The most famous black community in the U.S., Harlem attracts groups of all backgrounds who are captivated by its fascinating past, music scene, restaurants and other points of interest. From the "Harlem Renaissance" of the 1920s on, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin and Count Basie were just a few of the legendary locals who lived here over the years; now it has achieved new recognition as the home office of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, which is in turn encouraging a new crop of Harlem meeting venues to blossom.
After decades of decline, Harlem is experiencing a revival with the opening of hotels, high-rise residences and restaurants. Stretching from the East River to the Hudson River between Morningside Avenue to 155th Street, the neighborhood of Harlem has seen tremendous development, including the addition of the new 124-room and 44-condo Aloft Harlem hotel on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, world-famous chef Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant Red Rooster and the neighborhood's first biergarden, Bier International.
Situated in Upper Manhattan, Harlem is less than an hour by car or taxi from LaGuardia Airport (6 miles), John F. Kennedy International Airport (17 miles) and Newark Liberty International Airport (21 miles). The neighborhood is also served by New York City MTA subway and bus system, so getting around won't be a problem.
While the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Piers 92/94 in Midtown West are New York's major meeting venues, Harlem has its share of more intimate spaces for group events. The Alhambra Ballroom, a former music hall that played host to the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, offers planners a choice of a "formal setting" or buffet-style dinners. The Magic Johnson Harlem 9 movie theater offers tiered seating and wall-to-wall screens, while the Studio Museum in Harlem features five event spaces, and guests can mix and mingle while taking in the exhibits. Nearby, Columbia University also has several options for gatherings, including the 40,000 square feet Faculty House, the 25,000 square feet Alfred Lerner Hall and the Miller Theater.
Hungry visitors to Harlem won't have a hard time finding a place to enjoy a meal, with group-friendly establishments, such as Amsterdam Restaurant and Tapas Lounge, Dinosaur Bar B Que, Terrace in the Sky and the Lenox Lounge and Zebra Room. Those searching for tunes can catch old school as well as up and coming performers at the hopping St. Nick's Jazz Pub and Bill's Place, where songstress Billie Holiday was discovered. Other notable things to do include exploring the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the row houses of Hamilton Heights and the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market.