Image courtesy of missapril1956.
East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, is a section of Harlem in the northeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. East Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. It includes the area formerly known as Italian Harlem, in which the remnants of a once-large Italian community remains. However, since the 1950s it has been dominated by residents of Puerto Rican descent, as well as large populations of other Latin Americans and African-Americans.
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. East 116th Street from 5th Avenue headed east to its termination at the FDR Drive is the most notable business hub of East Harlem along with a minor business hub along Third Avenue between E 103rd Street and E 110th Streets. 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.
Many famous artists have lived and worked in East Harlem, including 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. Two famous film actors Al Pacino and Burt Lancaster were born on 108th Street and 105th Street respectively. In 1967, Piri Thomas wrote a best-selling autobiography titled, “Down These Mean Streets.” The Bobbettes lived on 99th Street and were the first all girl Doo-Wop group famous for their number one R&B hit: “Mr. Lee.” On 101st Street Marc Anthony was later born. Also the contemporary artist Sorayda Martinez, the painter and creator of “Verdadism,” was born in East Harlem in 1956.
The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, home to the Raices Latin Music Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, serves as a focus for theatre, dance, and musical performance in the neighborhood, as well as its hosting the annual competition to award the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Piano Scholarship, a scholarship established in Palmieri’s memory by Tito Puente for the benefit of intermediate and advanced young (12-25) pianists’ study of Latin-style piano.