Looking for a great fall activity that only requires a pair of comfortable shoes and an appreciation for stunning architecture?
Pick a sunny day and take a stroll through the most beautiful streets in Harlem and beyond.
Start with these nine, all of which are part of larger historic districts brimming with history and exquisite old buildings, including the recently-designated Dorrance Brooks Square Historic District.
From south to north they are:
1. Lenox Ave between W 122nd and W 123rd Sts
A perfectly preserved row of late-19th-century houses with stately porticoes, this block is pretty much the defining image of brownstone Harlem.
2. W 120th St between Lenox Ave and Mount Morris Park West
This gorgeous street in the center of the Mount Morris Park Historic District was once home to poet Maya Angelou—her old brownstone at number 58 is one of the dreamiest. Since the pandemic, the block has also become one of Harlem's best-organized Open Streets.
3. Astor Row, W 130th St between Fifth and Lenox Aves
Built by the grandson of John Jacob Astor between 1880 and 1883, this row of brick houses with porches and front gardens surprises with its charming Southern vibe. Sadly, one house in the middle—number 28—was demolished in 2021 due to irreversible neglect.
4. W 131st St between Lenox Ave and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
This impressive block of 19th century row houses belongs to the Central Harlem–West 130th-132nd Streets Historic District, designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2018.
5. W 137th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglass Blvds
Part of the recently-designated Dorrance Brooks Square Historic District in Central Harlem, this block lined with Renaissance Revival row houses has a particularly curvy charm. In 2021 it was featured prominently in the movie adaptation of the Harlem Renaissance novel "Passing."
6. Strivers' Row, W 138th and W 139th Sts between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglass Blvds
Central Harlem's storied enclave—home to a long list of renowned Black artists and professionals during the Harlem Renaissance—is known for its three architecturally distinct rows of historic townhouses built between 1891-1893. The "Private Road: Walk Your Horses" sign on 138th Street is a that rare in-your-face remnant of New York's Gilded Age.
7. Convent Avenue between W 141st and W 145th Streets
One of the most scenic streets in all of Manhattan, Convent Avenue's townhouses are also loaded with history: famous residents of the Harlem Renaissance include "Take the A Train" composer Billy Strayhorn, who lived at number 315.
8. W 147th Street between St. Nicholas and Convent Aves
One of countless picturesque streets in Harlem's illustrious Sugar Hill, this block stands out for the short row of brick-and-limestone townhouses with charming wrought-iron railings decorating stepped walls (numbers 401-409).
9. Sylvan Terrace between Jumel Terrace and St. Nicholas Ave
A perfect time warp, this tiny cobblestone street in Washington Heights is lined on either side with identical wood row houses from the 19th century.