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Landmarks Commission creates Central Harlem historic district

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The district is comprised largely of a remarkably intact set of 19th century row houses


Harlem has a new historic district! The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to designate a new historic district that stretches between West 130th and 132nd Streets and between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

The Commission’s verdict followed a public hearing held in April, where local residents and preservation groups spoke strongly in favor of creating this new historic district. This Central Harlem historic district is largely characterized by its remarkably intact set of 19th century row houses. They come in neo-Grec, Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque Revival styles; and the district has approximately 164 buildings, including some apartment buildings and institutions.

While the Central Harlem district stands out for its architectural merits, it is also notable for its cultural significance. Many actors and actresses lived in the neighborhood and performed at the now demolished Lafayette Theater. Composer Scott Joplin was a resident of the neighborhood; the district was also home to the national headquarters for the March on Washington.

“This district is a remarkable reminder of the significant role the African American community of Harlem played in creating political and social change in New York City and the nation,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the outgoing chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, in a statement. “There is a lot of history tied to these buildings, from the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights movement.”

You can now explore this newest historic district in detail thanks to a handy new map created by the LPC that allows deep dives into the city’s historic districts and landmarked buildings.