The neighborhood is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City, mostly made up of Puerto Ricans, as well as sizeable numbers of Dominican, Cuban and Mexican immigrants. The community is notable for its contributions to Latin freestyle and salsa music. East Harlem also includes the area formerly known as Italian Harlem, in which the remnants of a once predominantly Italian community remain. The Chinese population has increased dramatically in East Harlem since 2000.
East Harlem consisted of pockets of ethnically-sorted settlements – Italian, German, Irish, and Jewish – which were beginning to press up against each other, with the spaces still between them occupied by "gasworks, stockyards and tar and garbage dumps". In 1895, Union Settlement Association, one of the oldest settlement houses in New York City, began providing services in the area, offering the immigrant and low-income residents a range of community-based programs, including boys and girls clubs, a sewing school and adult education classes.
In the 1920s and early 1930s, Italian Harlem was represented in Congress by future Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, and later, in the 1940s, by Italian-American civil rights lawyer, activist, and socialistVito Marcantonio. The Italian neighborhood approached its peak in the 1930s, with over 110,000 Italian-Americans living in its crowded, run-down apartment buildings. The 1930 census showed that 81 percent of the population of Italian Harlem consisted of first- or second-generation Italian Americans. (Somewhat less than the concentration of Italian Americans in the Lower East Side's Little Italy with 88 percent; Italian Harlem's total population, however, was three times that of Little Italy.)
The Italian community in East Harlem remained strong into the 1980s, but it has slowly diminished since then. However, Italian inhabitants and vestiges of the old Italian neighborhood remain. The annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the "Dancing of the Giglio", the first Italian feast in New York City, is still celebrated there every year on the second weekend of August by the Giglio Society of East Harlem. Italian retail establishments still exist, such as Rao's restaurant, started in 1896, and the original Patsy's Pizzeria which opened in the 1933. In May 2011, one of the last remaining Italian retail businesses in the neighborhood, a barbershop owned by Claudio Caponigro on 116th Street, was threatened with closure by a rent increase.
Puerto Rican and Latin American migration after the First World War established an enclave at the western portion of East Harlem – around 110th Street and Lexington Avenue – which became known as "Spanish Harlem". The area slowly grew to encompass all of East Harlem, including Italian Harlem, as Italians moved out – to the Bronx, Brooklyn, upstate New York and New Jersey – and Hispanics moved in during another wave of immigration in the 1940s and 1950s. Although in certain areas, particularly around Pleasant Avenue, Italian Harlem lasted through the 1970s, today most of the former Italian population is gone. Most of these predominantly older residents are clustered around Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, mainly from 114th to 118th Streets. According to the 2000 Census, there were only 1,130 Italian-Americans still living in this area.
The newly dominant Puerto Rican population, which reached 63,000 in 1950, continued to define the neighborhood according to its needs, establishing bodegas and botánicas as it expanded; by the 1930s there was already an enclosed street market underneath the Park Avenue railroad viaduct between 111th and 116th Streets, called "La Marqueta" ("The Market"). Catholic and evangelistic Protestant churches appeared in storefronts. Although "Spanish Harlem" had been in use since at least the 1930s to describe the Hispanic enclave – along with "Italian Harlem" and "Negro Harlem" – the name began to be used to describe the entire East Harlem neighborhood by the 1950s. Later, the name "El Barrio" ("The Neighborhood") began to be used, especially by inhabitants of the area.
In the 1950s and 1960s, large sections of East Harlem were leveled for urban renewal projects, and the neighborhood was one of the hardest hit areas in the 1960s and 1970s as New York City struggled with deficits, race riots, urban flight, gang warfare, drug abuse, crime and poverty. Tenements were crowded, poorly maintained, and frequent targets for arson. In 1969 and 1970, a regional chapter of the Young Lords which were reorganized from a neighborhood street gang in Chicago by Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez, ran several programs including a Free Breakfast for Children and a Free Health Clinic to help Latino and poor families. The Young Lords came together with the Black Panthers and called for Puerto Rican independence and neighborhood empowerment. Still, as of the early 2000s, the Latin Kings gang was still prevalent in East Harlem.
By the beginning of the 21st century, East Harlem was a racially diverse neighborhood, with about a third of the population being Puerto Rican. As it has been throughout its history, it is predominantly a working-class neighborhood.
Until 2006, property values in East Harlem climbed along with those in the rest of New York City. With increased market-rate housing, including luxury condos and co-ops – most built on formerly vacant lots – there has been some decline of affordable housing in the community. A number of young professionals have settled into these recently constructed buildings. This influx of "yuppies" has caused rents to rise, more buildings in the area to get gut renovations, and changes to area demographics.
The New York Post listed one part of the neighborhood – the block of Lexington Avenue between East 123rd and 124th Streets – as one of "the most dangerous blocks in the city" because police crime statistics for 2015 showed that 19 assaults had taken place there, more than for any other city block. The Post also reported that there were, according to the Harlem Neighborhood Block Association, "22 drug-treatment programs, four homeless-services providers and four transitional-living facilities" in East Harlem.
East Harlem has begun to feel the effects of gentrification. In February 2016, an article in The New York Times about "New York's Next Hot Neighborhoods" featured East Harlem as one of four such areas. A real-estate broker described it as "one of the few remaining areas in New York City where you can secure a good deal". The article mentioned new luxury developments, access to transportation, the opening of new retail stores, bars and restaurants, and national-brand stores beginning to appear on the outskirts of the neighborhood. Primarily, though, it was the cost of housing in comparison to the rest of Manhattan, which the article noted as the major factor. Beginning in 2016, the New York City government was seeking to rezone East Harlem "to facilitate new residential, commercial, community facility, and manufacturing development". The residents of the neighborhood generated a suggested zoning plan, the "East Harlem Neighborhood Plan", which was offered to the city in February 2017, but in August 2017 residents and the Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, complained that the city had ignored their plan almost entirely.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of East Harlem North was 58,019, an increase of 871 (1.5%) from the 57,148 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 573.94 acres (232.27 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 101.1 inhabitants per acre (64,700/sq mi; 25,000/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 6.8% (3,936) White, 35.5% (20,625) African American, 0.2% (128) Native American, 3.0% (1,766) Asian, 0.0% (9) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (185) from other races, and 1.3% (769) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.7% (30,601) of the population.
Based on data from the 2010 Census, the population of East Harlem South was 57,902, an increase of 1,003 (1.8%) from the 56,899 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 389.41 acres (157.59 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 148.7 inhabitants per acre (95,200/sq mi; 36,700/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 17.4% (10,072) White, 24.6% (14,227) African American, 0.2% (96) Native American, 8.3% (4,802) Asian, 0.1% (55) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (218) from other races, and 1.6% (933) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 47.5% (27,499) of the population
The entirety of Community District 11, which comprises East Harlem, had 124,323 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 77.3 years.:2, 20 This is lower than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are children and middle-aged adults: 21% are between the ages of 0–17, while 33% are between 25–44, and 23% are between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 13% respectively.:2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 11 was $36,770. In 2018, an estimated 23% of East Harlem residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in nine residents (11%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 48% in East Harlem, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], East Harlem is gentrifying.:7
By New York City averages, the youth makes up a larger than normal percentage of the East Harlem population with 30.6% of residents age 18 or younger. As of 2010, the Puerto Rican population was 27.7% in zip code 10029, and 23.4% in 10035. 10035 also has a large Mexican population, at 10.7%.
According to a 2010 study, the number of Asians in East Harlem nearly tripled between 2000 and 2010, largely due to Chinese people moving to East Harlem. Increasing rents in Lower Manhattan's Chinatown have driven many into public and subsidized housing developments in the neighborhood. Advocates have been calling for Chinese language services to be available in the community centers to accommodate the growing number of Chinese residents in the area. In 2000, the Chinese population in the northern portion was less than one percent, but by 2010, it has gone up to being three percent in the area. In the southern part, it rose from 4.6% to 8.4%.
Social problems, including poverty, crime, and drug addiction, have long plagued the area. Although crime rates have dropped from the historically high numbers of the past, East Harlem suffers from one of Manhattan's highest violent crime rates, with 7 murders in 2018.
East Harlem has the highest concentration of shelters and facilities in Manhattan, with eight homeless shelters, 36 drug and alcohol treatment facilities and 37 mental health treatment facilities. It also has the highest jobless rate in the entire city, as well as the city's second highest cumulative AIDS rate. The asthma rate is also 5 times larger than national levels. The neighborhood also suffers from a high poverty rate.Union Settlement Association is one of the neighborhood's largest social service agencies, reaching more than 13,000 people annually at 17 locations throughout East Harlem, through a range of programs, including early childhood education, youth development, senior services, job training, the arts, adult education, nutrition, counseling, a farmers' market, community development, and neighborhood cultural events.
East Harlem is dominated by public housing complexes of various types, with a high concentration of older tenement buildings between these developments. The neighborhood contains the second-highest concentration of public housing in the United States, behind Brownsville, Brooklyn. The total land area is 1.54 square miles (4.0 km2).
After a wave of arson ravaged the low income communities of New York City throughout the 1970s, many of the residential structures in East Harlem were left seriously damaged or destroyed. By the late 1970s, the city began to rehabilitate many abandoned tenement style buildings and designate them as low income housing. Despite recent gentrification of the neighborhood, large numbers of apartment buildings have been deliberately kept vacant by their owners. Although the businesses on the ground floor are retained, landlords do not want to have the trouble involved in residential tenants. In some cases, landlords are waiting for a revived economy, warehousing the apartments so that they can rent them later at a higher rent.
In 2007, a survey of Manhattan's buildings found that 1,723 were significantly vacant, three-quarters of them north of 96th Street. A 1998 survey found that one-quarter of low-rise residential buildings on avenues or major cross streets in East Harlem had sealed-up residential floors, despite having commercial businesses on the ground floor.
Public housing projects
There are twenty-four New York City Housing Authority developments located in East Harlem. As of 2013, 93.6% of all housing units were renter-occupied, and over 25% of the population resided in public housing units managed by the NYCHA.
335 East 111th Street; one 6-story building
East 120th Street Rehab; one, 6-story rehabilitated tenement building
East River Houses; ten buildings, 6, 10 and 11 stories tall
U.P.A.C.A. (Upper Park Avenue Community Association) Site 6; one 12-story building
U.P.A.C.A. (Upper Park Avenue Community Association) U.R.A. Site 5; one 11-story building
Other residential developments
Other subsidized housing includes:
Taino Towers – East 122nd Street and Third Avenue. Four 35-story towers, 656 apartments. Opened 1979.
A new 68-story rental tower at 321 East 96th Street was approved in August 2017. The 1,300,000-square-foot (120,000 m2) building, which is currently the site of the School of Cooperative Technical Education, would house three schools and retail space along with a mix of 1,100 affordable and market-rate apartments.
The neighborhood is home to one of the few major television studios north of midtown, Metropolis at 106th Street and Park Avenue, where shows such as BET's 106 & Park and Chappelle's Show have been produced. PRdream.com, a web site on the history and culture of Puerto Ricans, founded a media gallery and digital film studio called MediaNoche in 2003. It presents technology-based art on Park Avenue and 102nd Street, providing exhibition space and residencies for artists and filmmakers, and webcasting events.
Police and crime
NYPD 25th Precinct station house
East Harlem is patrolled by two precincts of the NYPD. The area north of 116th Street is covered by the 25th Precinct, located at 120 East 119th Street, while the area south of 116th Street is patrolled by the 23rd Precinct, located at 164 East 102nd Street. The 25th and 23rd Precincts ranked 44th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. With a non-fatal assault rate of 130 per 100,000 people, East Harlem's rate of violent crimes per capita is more than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 1,294 per 100,000 people is higher than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 25th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 62.4% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 3 murders, 43 rapes, 191 robberies, 357 felony assaults, 115 burglaries, 478 grand larcenies, and 32 grand larcenies auto in 2018. The 23rd Precinct also has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 76.9% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 4 murders, 9 rapes, 145 robberies, 316 felony assaults, 72 burglaries, 296 grand larcenies, and 21 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Preterm and teenage births in East Harlem are higher than the city average. In East Harlem, there were 108 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 10.8 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide), though the teenage birth rate was based on a small sample size.:11 East Harlem has a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 3%, slightly less than the citywide rate of 12%, though this was based on a small sample size.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in East Harlem is 0.0082 milligrams per cubic metre (8.2×10−9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.:9 Eighteen percent of East Harlem residents are smokers, which is more than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In East Harlem, 28% of residents are obese, 17% are diabetic, and 34% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 23% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Eighty-four percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is lower than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 76% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," less than the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in East Harlem, there are 17 bodegas.:10
A lack of access to healthy food causes serious hardships to citizens of East Harlem, a neighborhood which is considered to be a food desert. According to an April 2008 report prepared by the New York City Department of City Planning, East Harlem is an area of the city with the highest levels of diet-related diseases due to limited opportunities for citizens to purchase fresh foods.
With a high population density and a lack of nearby supermarkets, the neighborhood has little access to fresh fruit and vegetables and a low consumption of fresh foods. Citizens of East Harlem are likely to buy food from grocery stores that have a limited supply of fruits and vegetables, which are often of poor quality and generally more expensive than the same products sold at supermarkets. Compared to the Upper East Side, supermarkets in Harlem are 30% less common. Without access to affordable produce and meats, East Harlem residents have difficulty eating a healthy diet, which contributes to high rates of obesity and diabetes.
In 2011, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer announced a program which would send Veggie Vans to East Harlem senior centers and housing projects. In 2012, Whole Foods announced two uptown locations, one being on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, the other in the Upper East Side. In 2010, Aldi's Grocery opened at the East River Plaza located at E. 117th St. and FDR Drive, providing access to affordable food for East Harlem's residents. In 2013, a new Super FI Emperior Grocery store opened up in East Harlem on 103rd Street and Lexington Avenue.
Post offices and ZIP codes
East Harlem is located in two primary ZIP Codes. The area south of 116th Street is part of 10029 and the area north of 116th Street is part of 10035. The extreme northwestern portion of East Harlem is also located in 10037. The United States Postal Service operates two post offices near East Harlem:
East Harlem generally has a lower rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. While 38% have a college education or higher, 25% have less than a high school education and 37% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of East Harlem students excelling in math rose from 25% in 2000 to 51% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 33% to 39% during the same time period.
East Harlem's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is higher than the rest of New York City. In East Harlem, 30% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, more than the citywide average of 20%.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 67% of high school students in East Harlem graduate on time, less than the citywide average of 75%.:6
The schools in East Harlem are generally characterized by low test scores and high drop-out and truancy rates. As in other parts of the city, some schools require students pass through metal detectors and swipe ID cards to enter school buildings.
The Aguilar branch is located at 174 East 110th Street. The three-story Carnegie library branch opened in 1903 and was renovated in 1996. It is named for the author Grace Aguilar.
The 125th Street branch is located at 224 East 125th Street. The two-story Carnegie library opened in 1901 and was renovated in 2001.
Two additional NYPL branches are located nearby. The 96th Street branch is located at 112 East 96th Street, at the border with the Upper East Side, while the Harlem branch is located at 9 West 124th Street, near the border with Harlem.
Bridges spanning the Harlem River between Harlem to the left and the Bronx to the right
^King, Chris. "A Park Just Made for a Poet", The New York Times, September 16, 2001. Accessed September 26, 2017. "Jack Agueros, a translator who collected the poems and translated them for the book, grew up in East Harlem, where he twice saw De Burgos, who lived in New York in the 1940's and early 1950's when she enjoyed a reputation as Puerto Rico's greatest poet."
^Ray Barretto, Smithsonian Latino Center. Accessed February 2, 2017. "He was raised in the Latin ghettos of East Harlem and the Bronx, in an environment filled with music of Puerto Rico but with a love for the swing bands of Ellington, Basie and Goodman."
^Goodman, Fred. "The Return of Joe Bataan, the Boogaloo King", The New York Times, March 4, 2016. Accessed February 2, 2017. "The great paradox of Mr. Bataan's career as an originator of Latin soul is that he isn't Latino. A self-described mestizo – his mother was African-American, his father Filipino – he was born Bataan Nitollano in 1942 and raised on East 104th Street in Spanish Harlem."
^"Nets Get Walter Berry", The New York Times, Agust 30, 1988. Accessed September 26, 2017. "The trade will bring Berry home. He grew up in East Harlem and played high school basketball at Morris, DeWitt Clinton and Benjamin Franklin."
^Hevesi, Dennis. "Frank Bonilla, Scholar of Puerto Rican Studies, Dies at 85", The New York Times, January 6, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2017. "Born in Manhattan on Feb. 3, 1925, Frank Bonilla was one of three children of Francisco and Maria Bonilla, who had moved from Puerto Rico. He grew up in East Harlem and the South Bronx, but for several years lived with family friends in Tennessee and Illinois, where he came face to face with segregation: he was regularly told to sit in the back of the bus."
^Festival, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Accessed February 2, 2017. "Artist Daniel Celentano, an Italian American from the uptown neighborhood called Italian Harlem, saw many a Catholic procession like the one shown here."
^Gonzalez, Erica. "The Life and Legacy of Poet Julia de Burgos", Voices of NY, February 18, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2017. "Julia de Burgos was a daughter of Puerto Rico; she was also a daughter of El Barrio. Along with the wave of Puerto Rican immigrants who came to New York in the 1940s and '50s, she found a home in East Harlem."
^Urbina, Ian. "Metro Briefing; New York: Bronx: No Jail Time For Graffiti Painter", The New York Times, October 26, 2004. Accessed September 20, 2018. "James De La Vega, left, a street muralist from East Harlem who is also campaigning as a write-in candidate for the 28th District of the State Senate, was sentenced yesterday to 50 hours of community service for spray-painting the side of a Bronx building, according to the Bronx district attorney's office."
^McFadden, Robert D. "Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro, 47, Is Dead", The New York Times, January 1, 1995. Accessed February 2, 2017. "Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro, an influential East Harlem Democrat who has represented his community in the State Legislature since 1975, died on Friday at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan while undergoing a routine kidney dialysis procedure."
^Richards, Hunter. "Princes Nokia on the Throne", The Harvard Independent, June 30, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017. "The queer artist and proud Nuyorican (portmanteau of the terms ‘New York’ and ‘Puerto Rican’) grew up in Spanish Harlem, drawing from her Afro-Latinx identity and city for her work."
^Staff. "Father And Son Shot.; Harlem's Little Italy Is Scene of Another Gun Fight.", The New York Times, May 18, 1915. Accessed September 20, 2018. "Giosue Gallucci, a money lender, proprietor of a bakery and of coffee houses and saloons in Harlem's Little Italy, where for years he has been a prominent figure, left his bakery at 318 East 109th Street shortly before 10 o'clock last night and walked to a coffee house recently opened by his 19-year-old son Luca, at 336 East 109th Street."
^Purnick, Joyce. "Joan Hackett, 49, The Actress; Won 1982 Oscar Nomination", The New York Times, October 10, 1983. Accessed September 20, 2018. "Joan Hackett, daughter of an Italian mother and an Irish-American father, was born March 1, 1934, in East Harlem. The Hacketts soon moved to Elmhurst, Queens, and that was home when the future actress with the high cheekbones and aristocratic nose dropped out of her senior year in high school to work as a model."
^Rampersad, Arnold (1986) The Life and Times of Langston Hughes Volume 2: I Dream a World. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN978-0-19-514643-1
^Poggio, Marco; and Lestch, Corinne. "E. 111th St. at Lexington Ave. renamed 'Young Lords Way' for Puerto Rican social justice group", New York Daily News. July 26, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2017. "The Young Lords now have a permanent home in East Harlem. The intersection of E. 111th St. and Lexington Ave. in front of the First Spanish United Methodist Church was changed Saturday to Young Lords Way, for the group of Puerto Rican youth that have fought for social justice issues since its inception in 1967. ... About 100 people, including Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.) and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, attended the renaming ceremony honoring Young Lords members like Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez and founder Jose 'Cha-Cha' Jimenez, who turned his Chicago street gang into a group to raise political awareness among Puerto Ricans."
^Katan, Roger. "Participative Mindscapes", Arts, March 1, 2006. Accessed October 18, 2017. "At a time of great social upheaval, I decided to teach and spend more time providing free technical advice to the East Harlem community."
^Kim, Serena. "Drama King", Vibe, June 2003. Accessed June 13, 2019. "His mother Sheila, then 23, and father, Eric Grayson, an R&B DJ in Manhattan, decided to entrust him to his grandparents in Harlem's East River Houses."
^Beale, Lewis. "Burt Lancaster, a Hollywood star, dies at 80 after heart attack in 1994", New York Daily News, October 22, 1994. Accessed February 2, 2017. " But even as a star, he never forgot where he came from, donating money to East Harlem charities. He was also a steadfast believer in liberal causes and once served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union. Born Burton Stephen Lancaster on Nov. 2, 1913, at Third Ave. and 106th St., the actor was the son of an East Harlem postal clerk."
^"Guide to the Lillian López Papers 1928–2005", Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College. Accessed February 27, 2017. "Born in Salinas, Puerto Rico in 1925, Lillian López spent her early childhood in Ponce. In 1935, she left Ponce with her widowed mother and a younger sister for New York City. There they were reunited with an older sister, Evelina, who had arrived two years earlier. Joining a growing number of Puerto Rican migrants in New York City, they settled in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem)."
^ex, Kris. "Bad Fellas", Vibe, October 2002. Accessed October 18, 2017. "Alpo, who came from East Harlem, began his life in crime sticking up Dominican drug dealers."
^Johnson, Carolyn D. Harlem Travel Guide, p. 156. Welcome to Harlem, 2010. ISBN9781449915889. Accessed February 27, 2017. "Also, the contemporary artist Soraida Martinez, the painter and creator of 'Verdadism', was born in Spanish Harlem."
^Gipson, L. Michael. "The Gosepl According to Monifah", Swerv magazine, September–October 2016. Accessed February 2, 2017. "Born and bred in East Harlem, the big-voice girl with the West African name has been in the spotlight since she was in pigtails and Mary Janes, starring in off-Broadway shows and national commercials for such major brands as Hi-C as a child."
^Siegal, Nina. "The New York Legacy of Tito Puente", The New York Times, June 6, 2000. Accessed February 27, 2017. "He was born at Harlem Hospital, and his family moved frequently, but as a boy in the 1930's he lived at 53 East 110th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues in Spanish Harlem."
^Quiñonez, Ernesto. Bodega Dreams, Random House. Accessed February 27, 2017. "Q: So, how much of your novel is autobiographical? A: The first chapter, which explores the school years and early friendships of Chino growing up on the streets in Spanish Harlem, is very autobiographical.... Growing up in Spanish Harlem, you learn that in order to not take a beating everyday, you have to fight sometimes."
^Piri Thomas papers 1957–1980, New York Public Library. Accessed February 27, 2017. "Author, poet and playwright, Piri Thomas is best known for his autobiography, Down These Mean Streets (1967) which deals with his early years growing up in East Harlem, the challenges of his Afro-Puerto Rican/Cuban heritage, and his involvement with drugs and gangs."