Posted by: Christina Katopodis | 30th Mar, 2017

East Harlem: Culture and Community

HarlemArt

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, a butcher that makes delicious chorizo, 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 that sells the most amazing strawberries, lettuce, apples, you name it. Our building is brand new and rent is average for the neighborhood for a new building, 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 and they also love the area.

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. On the same block as the building is the Silberman School of Social Work with a cafe downstairs where you can get cheap coffee and breakfast, and two blocks away is the Family Health Center of Harlem (linked to Mount Sinai) where I go to the walk-in clinic and see my regular Primary Care Physician. The wait is short and the healthcare quality excellent.

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.

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, from the rent to the groceries, and has been a great introduction, for me, to living in New York City. I would highly recommend it for anyone.

If you’ve applied for housing and are waiting on the wait list, it can sometimes be frustrating not hearing back or knowing exactly where you are on the wait list. I was on the wait list, and I got pulled up over the summer. I had a friend also on the wait list who they pulled up with me so we could be in a 2-bedroom together. My recommendation is to just be patient. Finding a place to live in NYC often happens at the last minute. What I did to find a roommate was I got an email list of new students from my program’s APO (assistant program officer) and emailed them personally to ask if anyone was moving to the city to start the program and looking for a roommate.

Christina Katopodis
English PhD Student
Adjunct Lecturer at Hunter College

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