Exploring East Harlem/Spanish Harlem – El Barrio, Manhattan, NYC
Occupying dozens of blocks in Upper Manhattan, East Harlem is a historic neighborhood that’s surrounded by Central Park and the Harlem River. Some of the district’s top museums celebrate African American and Hispanic culture. Museum Mile terminates in this diverse part of the borough that’s mostly lined with residential properties. MTA commuter and subway trains offer direct service to the neighborhood on a daily schedule. Click to book your Harlem Sightseeing and Apollo Theater Multimedia walking tour.
Attractions and Activities
East Harlem is home to the northern limits of Museum Mile, which is home to some of Manhattan’s most visited cultural attractions. You can explore the city’s rich history at the Museum of the City of New York, which includes artifacts dating back to colonial times.
At the neighboring El Museo del Barrio, you can admire artwork from Puerto Rico and other Latin American nations. This Hispanic-themed museum includes an extensive collection of Pre-Columbian items, such as Taino artifacts. Both museums are just a stone’s throw away from the lush Central Park.
The Conservatory Garden and Harlem Meer lake are some of the top attractions in the northeastern corner of the urban green space. From the Lasker Rink and Fort Clinton to the Huddlestone Arch and Butterfly Gardens, there are plenty of other interesting sites near East Harlem.
The intersection of W 110th Street and 5th Avenue is also home to the Duke Ellington Statue, which commemorates one of America’s most famous Jazz artists. If you’re a fan of this music genre, then check out the National Jazz Museum. Live performances and other entertainment events are held at this venue throughout the year. The museum’s Ralph Ellison collection includes a variety of recordings from famous artists with deep roots in this vibrant part of the Big Apple.
Located just a few blocks away from The National Jazz Museum in Harlem , the Studio Museum is another major cultural venue in the heart of the district. You can learn about the rich heritage of the neighborhood in this niche facility that has its own library and research center.
This section of Manhattan also offers great opportunities to enjoy scenic views with urban and natural elements. The promenades of the Bobby Wagner Walk run along the Harlem River. You can sit down on benches and enjoy panoramic views of the neighboring Randall’s Island, which has some of NYC’s largest outdoor sports complexes. You can also admire the architectural details of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which connects the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan.
Visiting East Harlem
You can easily get to East Harlem by taking the New York City Subway. The 4 and 6 trains stop at stations on 96th, 103rd, 116th, and 125th streets. Several commuter rail lines also serve the Harlem-125th Street Station, one of the busiest transport hubs in Upper Manhattan. This above-ground station is directly connected to Grand Central Terminal, a major transit hub in the heart of Midtown.
More than 10 MTA bus routes also connect the neighborhood with other parts of Manhattan. Most of the buses stop along the district’s busiest avenues, such as Malcolm X Avenue and Madison Avenue.
Parallel parking spots on the streets of East Harlem are typically occupied by residents, and parking garages are limited. If you navigate the area by car, be aware of the one-way traffic patterns on many of the roads. For example, the iconic 5th Avenue only carries southbound traffic. The Harlem River Drive is a busy parkway that connects the neighborhood to other areas on the eastern side of Manhattan.