Posted by: Christina Katopodis | 13th May, 2014

East Harlem: Culture and Community


Harlem is a great place to live. I live in the Graduate Housing building on 118th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenue. My commute to the CUNY Graduate Center is easy, and I live within walking distance of several grocery stores, a Target, a community garden, and some of the best Cuban food I’ve had in my life. Kids and young families walk around outside when the weather is nice, people wave to each other from across the street, and some elderly folks sit in the garden all day and talk. There’s a church across the street where they sing carols at Christmas and a fruit and vegetable vendor around the corner. Our building is brand new and rent is average for the neighborhood, the gym downstairs is well-equipped, and all the staff members are friendly and quick to attend to any questions or maintenance issues you might have. I’ve never lived in a better apartment community where you hear people talking philosophy over laundry or watching basketball downstairs. It’s a convenient location, the rooftop view is lovely, and it was a great introduction to living in New York City. I have friends who live nearby on 111th Street and they also love the area.
At 103rd and Lexington, you’ll find a great coffee shop called East Harlem Café  and a Mexican restaurant called El Paso. The Cuban restaurant that makes the best mojitos in the barrio is Amor Cubano on 110th & 3rd Avenue. There are also fantastic restaurants in Yorkville and the Upper East Side and plenty of coffee and sandwich shops to study in or meet friends.
If you like exercise, the jog to Central Park is quick and easy, and along 5th Avenue as you head downtown into the Upper East Side you’ll find the Metropolitan Museum and the Guggenheim. If you’re into race culture, definitely join the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and sign up for one of their half marathons! I go to the Super Runner’s Shop on Lexington & 89th Street. If you like biking, I often ride down to Central Park. I take my bike to MODSquad and they always do excellent work and treat me well.
East Harlem is a great place to live, from 120th Street down to Yorkville and the Upper East Side. East Harlem is generally more affordable than other neighborhoods and has been a great introduction, for me, to living in New York City. I would highly recommend it for anyone.

Christina Katopodis
First Year English PhD Student


I am curious about the waitlist for the Graduate Housing Building. Is it a long wait to get into an apartment?

I’m not sure how long the wait list is but you can call or email and ask! That’s what I did last summer when I was on the wait list. You can get the contact information here:

Thanks Christina. I emailed yesterday and hope to hear back soon. GC Housing seems like my best option!

Christina, I was in Harlem yesterday and fell in love with it. Do you have any tips on how I could look for a place there that isn’t the GC building? Or do you know anyone around there looking for a roommate? I’m an incoming student to the Comp Lit department and trying to move in the middle/end of July. Thanks for your post!

On a related note to Laura’s post, do you know of any ways to find potential GC roommates other than reading posts here? When I visited the school, I was advised to keep an ear open for current students who have places and need a new roommate…is there any sort of sounding board for finding GC roommates?

I’m not sure how to find other places in the area other than to look at craigslist and for other listings. I would try to stay below 120th but keep in mind that the further downtown you go, the more expensive it may get as you go into the Upper East Side.

The way I found my roommate was through my program’s listserv. I sent an email out looking for a roommate and then filtered through the responses to find someone I would be compatible with. My roommate and I are in the same program but we specialize in different periods so we’re rarely in a class together. We get along well, are about the same age, and have a lot in common because we’re in the same year of the program together. We were really lucky! But talk to other people in your program, shoot an email to other first years or circulate an email through your department listserv, and see who writes back!

Thanks Christina! What’s the best way to find the listservs? I’m studying Ethnomusicology so I guess I’d be looking for the music one.

No problem! You could email one of the program officers or someone who works in the department office:

Awesome, thank you!

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