The notion that uptown is a destination for the young and fashionable is becoming more common thanks to the dynamic neighborhood of South Harlem.
Situated just above Central Park and extending from 110th Street to 125th Street, South Harlem, also called SoHa, has a rich history and boasts an impressive array of new restaurants, bars and residences with all the amenities found in their downtown counterparts.
“I love the vibe up here,” said Donna Kreeger, 55, a sales broker with Citi Habitats and a South Harlem resident of nine years. “There’s such a mix of things to enjoy. It has a positive energy and really feels like a community.”
The area was always a vibrant place, but not for the same reasons.
In the early 20th century, SoHa served as a backdrop to some of the most important works of art produced in that time period.
In Minton’s Playhouse at 201 W. 118th St. — now known as Minton’s — jam sessions featuring jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk were the driving force behind the creation of Bebop in the 1940s.
The neighborhood also played a vital role in the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural and artistic movement featuring African American writers, poets, musicians and artists between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s.
It also possesses one of the most distinguished architectural histories in the city.
Beautiful examples of late-19th-century Gilded Age design are visible in the stately homes lining the streets of the 16-block Mount Morris Park Historic District, anchored by Marcus Garvey Park.
Graham Court, at 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, is an Italian Palazzo-style apartment building completed in 1901.
For those looking for housing in the area, there are a variety of options ranging from pre-war walkups to luxury condos.
New developments such as Circa Central Park, on Frederick Douglass Circle, and One Morningside Park at 312 W. 110th St. are introducing a new level of luxury to SoHa.
“People now view Harlem as a destination,” Kreeger said. “With the new higher-end properties, there is such a variety here of what people want in their neighborhood.”
Real estate prices reflect the increased interest in the neighborhood.
The median sales price in SoHa rose from $495,000 in 2013 to $827,500 in 2015, according to StreetEasy.
The median rent rose from $2,500 in 2013 to $2,700 in 2015, the listings site found.
To figure out what’s luring newcomers to the area, take a walk down Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
A thriving restaurant scene is attracting foodies, tourists and curious New Yorkers looking for the latest taste trends developing between 110th and 125th streets.
Streetbird, which opened in April 2015 at 2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd., is Marcus Samuelsson’s second foray into SoHa after Red Rooster, on Lenox Avenue, and offers rotisserie chicken and noodle dishes in a space decorated in memorabilia paying homage to Harlem’s past.
Zoma, further south on the boulevard near 113th Street, opened in 2006 and features authentic Ethiopian food and a sleek decor.
Patisserie des Ambassades, which popped up near 119th in 2005, is a Senegalese-French cafe popular for its croissants and tarts.
For those looking to cook at home, a Best Market opened in 2010 at 2187 Frederick Douglass Blvd., offering fresh produce and even a craft beer selection, and a Whole Foods at 125th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard is scheduled to open in early 2017.
However, not everyone is sold on the new version of SoHa, with its focus on fancy residences and trendy eateries.
“The more Harlem comes to resemble every other place in Manhattan, the more people rejoice,” said Michael Henry Adams, an author, historian and activist who has lived in Harlem for 30 years. “Harlem is as special as Paris, Rome or Venice, and it is being lost for something quite ordinary. That’s an unfortunate thing.”
But others are still satisfied with the nabe.
“It’s a great place to live,” said Kristen Anderson, 29, a fundraiser originally from Long Island. “There are so many new places to shop and eat, and it’s quieter up here, but you’re still in Manhattan.”
South Harlem is bordered to the east by the FDR Drive and to the west by Morningside Drive below 123rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue above it. It sits between West 110th Street/Central Park North and West 125th Street.