Harlem Day.

Monday 16th October

We’ve had all types of weather for our time in New York City and today was of the cold and windy variety. We set off at 8:30 AM and made it as far as the corner coffee shop for our first stop. We then headed to the subway to make our way up to 135th Street Harlem for our 9:45 AM walking tour.

Our guide for the tour, Ryan, gave a great potted history of Harlem. There were many interesting stories and revelations but there were two that stuck with us most. First, was how the Vietnam War had a huge impact on Harlem and contributed to much of the depth of decline that the area experienced with returning Veterans bringing their drug dependency home with them leading to an entrenched drug culture. Second, was how corporations, primarily Walt Disney, were responsible for helping clean up NYC in the early 1990s. The push for family-focussed theatre and the ‘I Love New York’ renewal campaign both helped to raise the standards and atmosphere around the Time Square area and this eventually spread through all of the boroughs. Thirty to forty years ago you pick up property in Harlem for under $30,000 and there were some that traded for as low as $1! Now though, you would be hard pressed to purchased a brownstone in Harlem for under $3 million USD.

Our tour finished near midday and we caught the subway back downtown to Katz delicatessen for lunch. This is quite an institution in NYC and has been going since 1888 and is also the place where the iconic  Meg Ryan scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ was filmed. There was a lengthy queue just to get inside and when we eventually got inside we waited another 20 minutes for our table. Most of us chose the famous ‘pastrami on rye’ option and, whilst I couldn’t finish my half sandwich, luckily Mark was able to help me out!

We separated after lunch with Mark and Matt heading to Barcade, a bar and arcade themed venue.  Ali, Annabelle and Brett, who wasn’t feeling all that well, went shopping but I headed home to warm up; it was a cold day and memories of last week’s heat wave were now long gone.

The girls and Brett arrived home at about 5 pm and then Brett, Ali and I headed down to Wholefoods to source some supplies for dinner. Annabelle and Matt opted for a pizza option but it was a quite night at home after a day of being out in the cold and wind.


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