East Harlem, sometimes referred to as El Barrio and Spanish Harlem, is located in the north-eastern section of Manhattan. East Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. The primary business hub of Spanish Harlem has historically been East 116th Street from 5th Avenue headed east to its termination at the FDR Drive.
East Harlem is also home to one of the few major television studios north of midtown, Metropolis (106th St. and Park Ave.), where shows like BET's 106 & Park and Chappelle's Show have been produced. Major medical care providers include Metropolitan Hospital Center, North General Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, which serves residents of East Harlem and the Upper East Side. Many of the graduates of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have pursued careers in public health initiatives critical to East Harlem, including the battle against asthma, diabetes, unsafe drinking water, lead paint and infectious diseases.
Many famous artists have lived and worked in Spanish Harlem, including writer Langston Hughes, Soprano Marian Anderson, the renowned timbalero Tito Puente (110th Street was renamed “Tito Puente Way”), Jazz legend Ray Barretto and one of Puerto Rico’s most famous poets, Julia de Burgos among others. Piri Thomas wrote a best-selling autobiography titled, "Down These Mean Streets" in 1967. Also the contemporary artist Soraida Martinez, the painter and creator of "Verdadism," was born in Spanish Harlem in 1956.
Spanish Harlem was recognized in the Ben E. King's R&B song, "Spanish Harlem," The Mamas & the Papas' song, "Spanish Harlem," and in Louie Ramirez's latin soul song, "Lucy's Spanish Harlem," as well as being the source of the title for the Bob Dylan song "Spanish Harlem Incident." It was also mentioned in Elton John's song "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and Carlos Santana's song "Maria Maria."
The area is also the setting for the J.D. Robb book Salvation in Death, the 27th book in the popular in Death crime series.
El Museo del Barrio, a museum of Latin American and Caribbean art and culture is located on nearby Museum Mile and endeavors to serve some of the cultural needs of the neighboring community. The Museum of the City of New York is immediately south, followed by the New York Academy of Medicine. The Conservatory Garden is just across Fifth Avenue from the museums. The Museum for African Art will join these to the north at Duke Ellington Circle. There is a diverse collection of religious institutions in East Harlem: from mosques, a Greek Orthodox monastery, several Roman Catholic churches, including Church of the Holy Rosary (New York City), and a traditional Russian Orthodox church. A former church was transformed into the home of the National Museum of Catholic Art and History.
East Harlem is now home to a new influx of immigrants from around the world. Yemeni merchants, for example, work in local convenience stores alongside immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Italians live next to the influx of Central and South American immigrant populations. Other businessmen and local neighbors can be Korean, Chinese or Haitian in origin. The rising price of living in Manhattan has also caused increasing numbers of young urban professionals, mainly Caucasians, to move in and take advantage of the inexpensive rents, relative to the adjacent neighborhoods of Yorkville and Carnegie Hill.
East Harlem is dominated by public housing complexes of various types. There is a high concentration of older tenement buildings between these developments. Newly constructed apartment buildings have been constructed on vacant lots in the area. The neighborhood contains the highest geographical concentration of low income public housing projects in the United States. The total land area is 1.54 square miles.
The neighborhood boundaries are Harlem River to the north, the East River to the east, East 96th Street to the south, and 5th Avenue to the west. The neighborhood is part of Manhattan Community Board 11. The area is patrolled by both the 23rd Precinct located at 162 East 102nd Street and the 25th Precinct located at 120 East 119th Street.
Manhattan Community District 11 has a population of 117,743 as of the 2000 U.S. census. Over 25% of the population resides in units managed by the NYCHA. It also has one of the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans in all of New York City. The vast majority of units in Spanish Harlem are renter-occupied.
Subway stops: 6 to 110th Street for East Harlem; 2 or 3 to 116th Street for Central Harlem; A, B, C, or D to 125th Street for West Harlem.