New York is bursting with Instagrammable places like Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge—but those spots are for beginners.
If you're ready to fill your camera roll with corners of the city not everyone has seen, take your lens to Upper Manhattan.
From storybook lighthouses to hidden arches, these locations will leave you truly inspired.
From south to north, here are the top 12 places to check out:
1. Historic Harlem brownstones
Central Harlem W 120th St between Mount Morris Park West and Lenox Ave
Harlem is famous for its beautiful brownstones steeped in Black history, like this impeccably preserved row on West 120th Street. Number 58 was once owned by poet Maya Angelou.
2. Harlem Fire Watchtower
Central Harlem Top of Marcus Garvey Park, between 120th and 124th Streets and Madison Ave and Mt. Morris Park West
Not so long ago this last-of-its-kind watchtower—built in 1857 and used to spot fires in pre-telegraph NYC—was falling apart. After a lengthy renovation, the striking cast-iron structure high atop of Marcus Garvey Park is back and ready for its close-up.
3. Apollo Theater
Central Harlem 253 W 125th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglass Blvds
If tourists visit just one place uptown, it's this legendary theater. And no one passes by without taking a snap of the iconic neon sign.
4. "Crack Is Wack" Mural
East Harlem Crack is Wack Playground, E 127th St and Second Ave
Thanks to a restoration in 2019, Keith Haring’s “Crack Is Wack” mural on a handball court not far from the Harlem River Drive is just like new—it was first painted in 1986, at the height of the crack epidemic.
5. Arches Under the Riverside Drive Viaduct
West Harlem 12th Ave between W 125th St and W 135th Sts
The backdrop for countless movie and TV shoots (including "The Amazing Spiderman"), the underside of the viaduct on 12th Avenue is now also home to the two-year-old Uptown Night Market.
6. City College of New York
Hamilton Heights Convent Ave between W 138th and W 140th Sts
The neo-Gothic campus of City College—a.ka. "the poor man's Harvard" where 10 graduates have gone on to win Nobel Prizes—is beautiful in any season.
7. Hamilton Grange
Hamilton Heights 414 W 141 St between Convent and St. Nicholas Aves
This lovingly restored 1802 house was built by founding father—and inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway sensation—Alexander Hamilton. Moved twice from its original spot on 143rd Street, it's now located on a grassy slope in St. Nicholas Park.
8. Sylvan Terrace
Washington Heights Between Jumel Terrace and St. Nicholas Ave
A perfect time warp, this small cobblestone street lined with identical wood rowhouses from the 19th century is irresistible from any angle.
9. High Bridge
Washington Heights Highbridge Park
Reopened in 2015 after being closed for more than 40 years, this historic pedestrian bridge connecting Washington Heights and the Bronx offers stunning views high above the Harlem River. Bonus: You can now also visit the renovated Highbridge Water Tower on select weekends, too
10. Little Red Lighthouse
Washington Heights Fort Washington Park, Hudson River Greenway
This lighthouse is so famous, there's even a children's book about it. A word of advice: The easiest way to get there is to hop on a bike (and use Google Maps).
11. George Washington Bridge
The pride of Upper Manhattan, this massive suspension bridge impresses viewers both near (use the newly renovated north walkway to cross it) and far (try the overlook in J. Hood Wright Park). Pro tip: The GW's criss-crossed steel towers are illuminated in the evenings on major holidays and September 11—on the same days when the bridge flies the world's largest free-flying U.S. flag.
12. The Billings Arcade
Washington Heights Fort Tryon Park
One of uptown's hidden architectural gems, this stunning arcade located in Fort Tryon Park was once part of a mansion built in 1907, then destroyed by a fire 18 years later. Nestled deep in the park, it might require some help to find it.
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