Upper Manhattan

What neighborhoods are up there?

It’s mostly Harlem, however, there are subtleties.

Harlem is not a full-fledged borough, it’s just a neighborhood in Manhattan. It’s the upper boundary of Manhattan, north of 110th Street, which is the top boundary of Central Park. (If you live in Harlem, you technically live in Manhattan, though I’ve never personally heard of someone saying “Manhattan” when they mean Harlem.)

Harlem extends north to the Harlem River, which cuts diagonally from northwest to southeast.

This means Manhattan comprises the entire island. From Battery Park in the absolute south, to the Harlem River in the north, Manhattan and the island it sits on are basically the same thing. The island is called…wait for it…Manhattan Island.

The other side of the Harlem River is The Bronx, which is on the mainland USA (the only part of New York City actually connected to the mainland).

So, it’s easy to say, “Harlem is everything between the north end of the park and the north end of the island,” however, that’s not quite true.

If you go over the Harlem River, then you’re in The Bronx, which is a separate borough from Manhattan, but still part of New York City.

(There’s a weird little cutout along the river for a neighborhood called Marble Hill. This is technically part of Manhattan, but is on the north side of the river. This is because it used to be an island, but the canal to the north of it was filled in 1914, which made it part of the mainland. Some people informally consider this part of The Bronx.)

The Bronx stretches all the way up to Yonkers, at which point you’re no longer in New York City. The street numbers get weird up here because they’re not in a clear grid. The highest number I could find was 261st Street.

The names of Harlem and The Bronx both have Scandanavian origins.

Why I Looked It Up

I got to talking to my Uber driver during a trip to NYC. He lived in The Bronx, and tried to explain the geography to me. I wasn’t quite getting it, so I looked it up.

Also, I love the musical In the Heights, and I’ve always wondered where Washington Heights was actually located.

The only time I’ve been north of the park was on a bus trip. I remember taking a tourist bus around Harlem and being fascinated by it.

On this last trip, I stayed on the Upper West Side at 95th Street. This is the highest I’ve ever been in the city on foot.

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