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Thread: Manhattan Neighborhoods

  1. #106
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Sugar Hill

    Sugar Hill, Rich in Culture, and Affordable

    APRIL 8, 2015

    Alan Chin for The New York Times

    Slide show

    The section of Upper Manhattan known as Sugar Hill, poised on a bluff overlooking the Harlem Plain and distinguished by graceful rowhouses and elegant apartment buildings, achieved renown in the 1930s and 1940s, when it was home to prominent African-American professionals, political leaders, artists, musicians and writers. The song “Take the ‘A’ Train,” written by Billy Strayhorn and popularized by Duke Ellington, commemorated the neighborhood, where both lived. Nowadays, though, some newcomers say they had not heard the name Sugar Hill before they arrived.
    “I just thought of the area as Harlem,” said Heva Loriston, a Haitian-American resident who does administrative work at Columbia University and who recently moved to the neighborhood with her family. “We were looking for something reasonably priced, and we found it in the area — but now we plan on staying there.”

    Ms. Loriston and her husband bought the three-bedroom apartment where they live with their three daughters last June for $130,000. The apartment is a Housing Development Fund Corporation co-op, which carries income restrictions, and also needed work, she said.

    416 WEST 147TH STREET A 20-foot-wide seven-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath townhouse, listed at $2.89 million.
    Alan Chin for The New York Times

    Some people consider Sugar Hill — likely named for the sweet life its affluent residents were thought to enjoy in its heyday — to extend from 135th to 162nd Streets and between Edgecombe and Amsterdam Avenues. The three Sugar Hill historic districts are in a smaller area, from 145th Street to 155th Street and between Edgecombe and Amsterdam.

    “A lot of times Sugar Hill is more of a state of mind than a real location, so you can have a lot of different opinions,” said Don Moses, a real estate consultant with Exit Realty Landmark who specializes in the area. Most buyers, he said, “are driven by price, first and foremost.”

    But what they end up discovering is an architecturally striking neighborhood with a rich culture tied to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s and “a sense of community,” Mr. Moses said.

    There are still some old-timers who remember the neighborhood’s glory days, but the area is changing rapidly, Mr. Moses said. Census data show the percentage of black residents shrank from 62.5 percent of the population in 2000 to 45.7 percent in 2010, while white residents increased from 2.3 percent to 10.6 percent and Hispanics grew from 31.4 to 38.6 percent. The population of the neighborhood is around 12,000.

    Real estate agents said they are working with a growing number of foreign home buyers in Sugar Hill. Two years ago Lars Nordstroem, a scientist who works in the Bronx, bought a two-and-half-bedroom apartment that needed renovation — the half-bedroom was originally a maid’s quarters — in an H.D.F.C. co-op in the neighborhood. The price was $105,000.

    Originally from Scandinavia, Mr. Nordstroem said he and his wife, who is from Sri Lanka, had never heard of Sugar Hill, but have been happy to call the changing neighborhood home.

    “Even just over the past three years, walking around and going to the subway, there’s much more diversity than there used to be,” he said. “There’s just been tremendous change, with new restaurants and shops popping up all over the place.”

    What You’ll Find

    Sugar Hill, often considered part of Hamilton Heights, is almost entirely residential. It has rows of four- and five-story townhouses, generally over 4,000 square feet, said Willie Kathryn Suggs, the owner of a brokerage by that name in Sugar Hill.

    “When people think of Sugar Hill, they think of the classic townhouse, something drop-dead gorgeous and dripping with Victorian details,” said Ms. Suggs, who bought a townhouse on Hamilton Terrace in 2005.

    Attractive prewar apartment buildings, now co-ops, are also common. Some examples are 409 Edgecombe Avenue, which was home to the painter Aaron Douglas, the scholar and civil rights leader W. E. B. DuBois, and Thurgood Marshall, then an N.A.A.C.P. lawyer, later a Supreme Court justice. Nearby is 555 Edgecombe, a historic landmark that was home to the actor and singer Paul Robeson, the musician Count Basie and the boxer Joe Louis.

    “Some of these co-ops are spectacular, with 12- or 14- or 16-room apartments,” Ms. Suggs said. There are a few newer condominiums, such as Hamilton Park on West 152nd Street and the Capstone on West 150th. More prevalent, however, are the income-restricted Housing Development Fund Corporation co-ops, which Ms. Suggs called “some of the best buys in the neighborhood.”

    470 CONVENT AVENUE, #63 A two-bedroom one-bathroom H.D.F.C. (income-restricted) co-op, listed at $365,000.
    Alan Chin for The New York Times

    What You’ll Pay

    Even excluding income-restricted housing, Sugar Hill is still relatively underpriced, especially for townhouses, Ms. Suggs said. “Townhouses are in some cases less than half the price per square foot of the apartments, so they’re a bargain,” she said, pointing out that Harlem apartments are generally listed at around $800 to $900 per square foot, but may sell for as little as $600.

    Mr. Moses said in Sugar Hill studio co-ops are generally $120,000 to the low $200,000s; one-bedrooms are $150,000 to $350,000; two-bedrooms are $300,000 to $425,000; and three-plus bedrooms are $450,000 to almost $800,000. Condos usually cost about 20 to 25 percent more than co-ops, he said.

    Prices in Sugar Hill in general increased by about 15 percent to 18 percent from 2013 to 2014, Mr. Moses said.

    Rental apartments are in multifamily buildings, small walk-ups and townhouses, said Águeda Ramírez, an agent with the Bohemia Realty Group. Typically, studios range from $1,350 to $1,700 a month; one-bedrooms from $1,500 to $2,000; two-bedrooms from $1,800 to $2,500, and three-bedrooms from the low $2,000s to $3,500, she said.

    What to Do

    323 EDGECOMBE AVENUE, #2 A 490-square-foot three-bedroom one-bath H.D.F.C. co-op, listed at $299,000.
    Alan Chin for The New York Times

    Sugar Hill is centrally situated in Upper Manhattan with access to its parks, including the 12.8-acre Jackie Robinson Park, which has a recreation center, a swimming pool, ball fields, playgrounds and a band shell. The neighborhood is also home to the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Harlem School of the Arts, which both have classes and performances. The newly built Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling is scheduled to open this year. The Hamilton Grange Library is a state and national landmark.

    Residents usually head to Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway to shop or dine. Many restaurants have opened in the last five years, including the Chipped Cup coffee shop and Unione Restaurant and Bar, serving Italian food; both are on Broadway.

    The Schools

    One school favored by parents, Ms. Loriston said, is Public School/Intermediate School 210, the 21st Century Academy for Community Leadership, serving about 470 students from prekindergarten to Grade 8. On state tests, 16 percent of students met standards in English, versus 28 percent citywide, according to its 2013-14 School Quality Snapshot. In math, 22 percent met standards, versus 34 percent citywide. The Sugar Hill Museum Preschool opened last fall on West 155th Street.

    The Commute

    The A, B, C and D subway trains stop at 145th Street and St. Nicholas (the B and C part time), and the C stops at 155th Street. The 1 train runs nearby along Broadway, stopping at 145th and 157th Streets. The trip to Midtown takes about 15 to 20 minutes on express trains. Buses serving the neighborhood include the M3, the M100, the M101, the Bx6 and the Bx19.

    The History

    According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the rocky plateau that later became known as Sugar Hill was the setting for grand estates in the late 1700s and 1800s. By the mid-1890s, the area was home to white middle- and upper-middle-class residents, joined by immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Germany. In the early 1920s blacks began to move in, and Sugar Hill reached its prime as an African-American neighborhood in the 1940s. It began to decline in the 1950s, and many prominent black residents began moving to places like Riverside Drive or St. Albans, Queens.

  2. #107
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default Inwood

    Inwood: Always on the Brink of Coolness

    By C. J. HUGHES
    MAY 20, 2014

    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

    Slide Show

    Inwood, in the leafy northern stretch of Manhattan, has never really lacked for natural charms. Centuries ago, Native Americans plied its waterways; later, Gilded Age tycoons built their mansions on its hills for the best views; and today, residents say one of the benefits of living here is its many parks, which are popular for running, concerts and picnics.

    Walk around a bit and you can discover other you-don’t-see-that-everyday sights. On a recent afternoon, water gurgled down a rock face on Dyckman Street, as if freed from a spring. What seemed to be a gloomy dead-end on West 203rd Street revealed a tiny park with picnic tables and tulips. And along the Harlem River, the loudest sound was a coach on the river, urging on her rowing team.

    But despite regularly being hailed as the city’s next-cool-neighborhood, Inwood often seems to be moving in that direction, but never quite arriving at its destination.

    Critics say the area suffered over the years because it never had enough services, specifically restaurants, to compete with trendier enclaves. For a long time, the opening of a McDonald’s in the 1990s was practically the biggest news on the culinary front. Not anymore. In the last few years, Inwood has been inundated with new places to eat — as well as bike shops, wine shops and a Starbucks.

    Video: Block by Block | Inwood

    Perched on the northernmost tip of Manhattan, Inwood offers parks, new restaurants and bars and some of the borough’s more affordable apartments.

    By Nacho Corbella, Eileen Mignoni and Aaron Wolfe on Publish Date May 19, 2015. Photo by Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times.

    Amy Yambor, one resident, likes District 12, a steakhouse and bar that opened on Broadway last year. She has also gone for drinks at Corcho Wine Room, on Dyckman Street, which is part of a cluster of spots that have drawn complaints for loud music.

    Ms. Yambor’s two-bedroom co-op, which she shares with her husband, Christopher, is on residential Park Terrace West, just a few blocks away from the bustle. But she is used to rowdy neighborhoods, and says Inwood compares favorably with bar-heavy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she previously rented a two-bedroom. “We wanted a nice, quiet neighborhood,” she said, “and we found it here.”

    They also found hard-to-beat prices. Compared with the rest of Manhattan, Inwood’s real estate prices are well below-market — about a third of the borough’s average, while still in the 212 area code — which is good news for bargain hunters.

    Ms. Yambor’s 950-square-foot Inwood apartment cost $399,000 last fall, a far cry away from prices in Williamsburg. When she last went house-hunting in Brooklyn, smaller units near her rental were trading for $500,000, Ms. Yambor said, adding that she also ruled out Bushwick and Ditmas Park, in Brooklyn, as well as Harlem, for similar reasons.

    Inwood is also convenient for people who commute to jobs outside the city by car. Jessica McDonough, a school librarian in Clifton, N.J., drives down the Henry Hudson Parkway to the George Washington Bridge most mornings. Ms. McDonough and her husband, Scott, who teaches at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., and their daughter, Adelaide, have a two-bedroom duplex with a large terrace that they bought for $577,000 last year.

    And as far as she’s concerned, change, however inevitable, can arrive slowly. “This place is still very working-class, and you don’t have to wear designer clothes to live there,” she said. “It’s really laid back.”

    687 West 204th Street #1B
    A two-bedroom one-bath co-op with a renovated kitchen and bath, listed at $475,000.
    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

    What You’ll Find

    Inwood is bounded by the Harlem and Hudson rivers, and Dyckman Street, which separates it from Fort George and Washington Heights.

    With 40,000 people across one and a half square miles, the neighborhood is considered low-density, which can be partly explained by the numerous parks that can turn up in unexpected places, like popular Isham (pronounced EYE-sham) Park, which tumbles right down to busy Broadway.

    Low-slung buildings, generally five or six stories and lacking doormen, also check population growth.

    People seeking to buy an apartment will likely end up with co-ops. The condominium wave of the last boom, and the current one, have largely passed by Inwood. The 12-unit 175 Payson Avenue is a rare condo exception.

    Rezoning of the area, much of which is industrial, with subway yards, vast garages and parking lots for city trucks, has been proposed for years. But those plans have never gotten far, in part because of resistance from residents worried that any new high-rises would be out of scale and too expensive, said Martin Collins, who was involved with the local community board for a decade.

    In 1970, a third of the population called itself Irish. Today, Inwood is mostly Hispanic, and largely Dominican; Hispanics make up 73 percent of the population, according to the 2010 census, and tend to live in the eastern half of the neighborhood.

    What You’ll Pay

    In mid-May, there were 32 co-ops and condos for sale, at a median list price of $324,000. They ranged from a two-bedroom two-bath co-op on Seaman Avenue, with hardwood floors and butcher block counters, at $589,000, to a one-bedroom in an Academy Street condo, at $139,000.

    Though clearly recovered since the recession, prices have slumped somewhat in recent years, even as activity has spiked.

    In 2012, there were 59 sales of co-ops, at a median price of $310,000, according to, the real estate data website. In 2013, there were 105 co-op sales, but the median dipped slightly to $304,000, the data shows.

    Rob Kleinbardt, the principal broker with New Heights Realty, says prices have been about $400 a square foot for the last couple years.

    70 Park Terrace East #5D
    A two-bedroom one-bath unit in a red-brick post-war co-op, listed at $369,000.
    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

    But, he added that the spring has seen a surge, including bidding wars on properties, and he said he expected that closings over the next few months will push the price per square foot in Inwood to about $500.

    What to Do

    Park fans got a bit more acreage this year when the one-acre Muscota Marsh opened at the foot of Indian Road on land that belonged to Columbia University, which has a sprawling athletic complex next door. The city required Columbia to create the park, in exchange for building its Campbell Sports Center, which is part of the sports complex.

    Ms. Yambor, who manages the volunteer program for the Central Park Zoo and is a birder, takes advantage of group activities in the parks like a recent nighttime walk during which great horned and screech owls were heard hooting, she said.

    In June, as part of the annual Uptown Arts Stroll, organized by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, 12 Inwood painters, sculptors and photographers will throw open the doors to their studios.

    The Schools

    100 Park Terrace West, #4H
    A one-bedroom one-bath co-op in an elevator building, listed at $279,000. 
    Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

    Inwood offers many schools. One option is Public School 18, at Ninth Avenue and West 214th Street. It teaches 430 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade and offers bilingual classes. It got a C on its city progress report in 2013. P.S. 98, meanwhile, on West 212th Street, teaches 600 students in prekindergarten to eighth. It got a B last year. The High School for Excellence and Innovation on Academy Street enrolls about 200 students. Average SAT scores there last year were 324 reading, 279 math and 309 writing, versus 437, 463 and 433 citywide.

    The Commute

    The A train, which runs under Broadway, has two stops, at Dyckman and West 207th Street; the express train reaches the Port Authority in 25 minutes. The No. 1 train, which mostly runs above 10th Avenue, has stations at Dyckman, West 207th and West 215th Streets.

    Residents can cross the Broadway Bridge to the Marble Hill stop on Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson line, which takes about 25 minutes to reach Grand Central. A monthly pass is $193.
    The Harlem River Drive and the Henry Hudson Parkway are also nearby.

    The History

    Manhattan’s last surviving Dutch farmhouse, dating to about 1784, is situated on Broadway and West 204th Street. Plein-air painters worked on its grounds on a recent afternoon, as they did more than a century ago, though the view over a picket fence was quite different. These days, it includes a Citgo gasoline station.

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