Located in Manhattan, New York City, the historic Sugar Hill district is lined with charming residential properties and other landmarks that are connected to the Harlem Renaissance. Click to book your Sugar Hill to Washington Heights walking tour.
Parks and Green Spaces
Jackie Robinson Park is the largest green space in Sugar Hill. Bounded by Edgecombe Avenue and Bradhurst Avenue, this historic park has traditionally defined the eastern boundary of the neighborhood. Nested in between apartment buildings, the length of this urban oasis spans approximately 10 blocks. Since opening in the early 1900s, Jackie Robinson Park has provided great recreational opportunities for generations of families. At the recreational complex near the swimming pool, you can see a bronze bust of Jackie Robinson, who greatly impacted racial equality in professional baseball.
Wedged in between St. Nicholas Avenue and Convent Avenue, the Convent Garden is a small green area that beautifies the streets of Sugar Hill. A gazebo and some benches in this lush garden provide a retreat from the surrounding hustle and bustle of Harlem. Officially owned by New York City, the neighboring William A. Harris Garden is a prime example of successful urban agriculture. Some other notable parks that are located right on the border of Sugar Hill include Johnny Hartman Square, Coogan’s Bluff and St. Nicholas Park.
History and Facts
Sugar Hill occupies a significant portion of the Harlem neighborhood on the northern tip of Manhattan. In the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Harlem was home to thriving Jewish and Italian communities. As these ethnic groups moved out to other parts of New York City or the surrounding suburbs, African-Americans moved in. During the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance was characterized by a cultural boom that simply couldn’t occur in the southern part of the United States.
Lined with charming rowhouses and other quaint properties, Sugar Hill attracted some of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance. The great writer W. E. B. Du Bois and Jazz musician Duke Ellington enjoyed a comfortable life in this district that was rapidly changing in demographics and culture.
However, the Great Depression brought an abrupt end to the exciting and upbeat atmosphere of Harlem. For decades after this economic crisis, the neighborhood has fallen into disrepair and experienced other major urban problems. Nevertheless, Sugar Hill has been preserved and even revived to its former glory. The Benziger House and Bailey House are among the dozens of stunning buildings that line the streets of the neighborhood.
A walking tour is highly recommended for anyone who’s interested in the history of this district. In fact, more than 400 buildings have been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some notable architectural styles in the neighborhood include Queen Anne, neoclassical, and revival versions of Romanesque and Gothic.