DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history


DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

Harlem has some of the best Black monuments in the country—and they're all within walking distance of each other.


So here's a fun idea for Black History Month: Hit the pavement and go on TCU's DIY tour of these impressive memorials.


Not only is it an opportunity to learn more about six inspirational Black figures, it's also a chance to see some pretty amazing art while you're at it.


Note: Leave yourself about an hour and a half for the full tour.



A. Duke Ellington Memorial

110th Street and Fifth Avenue

Duke Ellington Memorial in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

Located in a semicircular island on the northeast corner of Central Park, this bronze sculpture of Duke Ellington by Robert Graham rises 25 feet above the ground. Look closer and you'll see nine tall muses supporting the legendary jazz composer and performer standing next to his grand piano.



B. Frederick Douglass Memorial

110th Street and Central Park West

Frederick Douglass Memorial in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

In the middle of a traffic circle on the northwest corner of Central Park—which also happens to be the start of Frederick Douglass Boulevard—stands this eight-foot statue of the great abolitionist. Sculpted in bronze by Gabriel Koren, the memorial also includes a fountain and other features designed by Algernon Miller.



C. Harriet Tubman Memorial

W 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Harriet Tubman Memorial in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

The Underground Railroad's most famous conductor has been memorialized by artist Alison Saar in a bronze sculpture titled "Swing Low." Tree roots in her skirt show the indefatigable Tubman pulling up slavery by its deeply entrenched foundations.



D. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Memorial

125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard

Adam Clayton Powell Jr sculpture in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

Named "Higher Ground," this dynamic bronze sculpture by Branly Cadet honors New York's first black member of Congress. Unsurprisingly, it lies in the heart of Harlem: Right where the stretch of Seventh Avenue named after the politician crosses legendary 125th Street.



E. Martin Luther King, Jr. sculpture

147th Street between Seventh Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard

Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

Erected two years after Martin Luther King's assassination, this bronze bust by Stan Sawyer is off the beaten path but still worth a visit. Stop by and contemplate the meaning of King's "I have a dream" speech, which is excerpted here.



F. Ralph Ellison Memorial

Riverside Drive and 150th Street

Ralph Ellison Memorial on Riverside Drive in the DIY walking tour: 6 inspirational Harlem monuments celebrating Black history

Created by African-American sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, this 15-foot bronze cutout honors "Invisible Man" author Ralph Ellison, who just so happened to live in an apartment nearby.

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