Hamilton Heights – Journey from Cultured to Hip(ster)

When I moved to the west side of Harlem, specifically the part otherwise known as Hamilton Heights, three years ago, I didn’t realize that I would be witnessing it’s transformation. A morphing was taking place from a spacious maze of bodegas, Chinese food spots, and “farmacias” into a burgeoning student friendly hub of hip bars and quality eateries featuring menus mandated by brussel sprouts and craft beers. The fact that my train station at 145th, formerly sparse on my treks home from work at midnight or later, is now just as popular as express stop 96th st and Broadway at all times of the night is both comforting and inconveniencing as a seat on the train is now hard to come by. With a greater demand of health and beauty needs anticipated, I have seen the opening of not one but three eyebrow threading salons and two yoga studios in the past year. A spacious, well organized liquor store one block from me now competes with the well known, long time operated bulk liquor store at 145th and Broadway. There is a brand new full branch of Chase on the same block as this new liquor store, dubbed Hamilton Discount Wine and Liquor. And yes, I do believe those building planners knew what they were doing when providing all new tablet format ATMs across the street from two bustling bars, Harlem Public and co-owned At The Wallace.

Brief History Lesson:

Hamilton Heights is named so because it is where Alexander Hamilton spent the last years of his life, in a setting far more rural in the 1800s. He lived in the Hamilton Grange National Memorial for only two years before his death.

Coincidentally, the latest Broadway sensation Hamilton, a play based on Alexander Hamilton’s life featuring a talented and refreshingly multi-racial cast, is generating buzz comparable to Rent. Classified as a “hip-hopera” it’s mainstream popularity coincides nicely with the most recent blossoming of its namesake’s neighborhood.

I welcome you to join me on my realizations, feelings, and opinions of the real time changes, calling it what it is, gentrification, of this ever growing city.


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