The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has recently designated the Central Harlem – West 130-132nd Streets a Historic District. This mid-block historic district represents Central Harlem’s residential architecture, and the social, cultural, and political life of its African American population in the 20th century.
To illustrate the significance of this diverse historic district, LPC launched an interactive story map called Explore the Central Harlem – West 130th-132nd Streets Historic District.
The Central Harlem – West 130-132nd Streets Historic District is located on the mid-blocks of West 130th, West 131st, and West 132nd streets, between Lenox and Seventh avenues. It consists of approximately 164 properties primarily row houses with a handful of apartment and institutional buildings.
Constructed during the speculative building boom that created Central Harlem’s row house neighborhoods in the late 19th century, this district contains a notably cohesive and intact collection of late-19th century row house architectural styles, including rows of neo-Grec buildings with their classical ornament and incised details, along with Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque Revival style buildings.
During the Harlem Renaissance and through the 1960s, many of the district’s small, primarily residential buildings were adapted to house a variety of cultural, religious, civic, and political activities that sustained the community, fostered social justice and contributed to the incredible cultural significance of the district. Notable buildings include The New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA) headquarters, the oldest African-American musical association in the United States; the home of Scott Joplin, dubbed the “King of Ragtime;” the Friendship Baptist Church, actively involved in the fight for civil rights; the Utopia Neighborhood Club, an African American women’s social club that provided children’s health and educational services; and the National Headquarters for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, instrumental in spurring the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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Photo of West 130-132nd Streets Historic District provided.