The first day of February is not just the start of Black History Month, but also poet Langston Hughes' birthday (1901-1967).
Often called the "Poet Laureate of Harlem," Hughes was one of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, writing poetry, plays and more about the Black experience.
Naturally, Harlem is filled with places that celebrate the literary giant.
The guide below features five not-to-miss spots—including his last home and the Schomburg Center, where the new exhibition "The Ways of Langston Hughes: Griff Davis and Black Artists in the Making" opens tonight.
1. Langston Hughes Lobby and Exhibition at the Schomburg Center
Central Harlem 515 Malcolm X Blvd and W 135th St
Langston Hughes' ashes are buried under Houston Conwill's "Rivers," a profoundly moving public art installation on the lobby floor of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center. The bronze cosmogram includes lines from the poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," which you can also read on a sign near the entrance. This year there's also a new exhibit, "The Ways of Langston Hughes: Griff Davis and Black Artists in the Making," featuring photos of the poet with Black artists such as Zora Neale Hurston and Roy DeCarava. It opens February 1 at 5pm.
2. Langston Hughes Plaque on the Harlem Walk of Fame
Central Harlem 135th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglass Blvds
This bronze plaque honoring Hughes can be found on the northeast corner of Frederick Douglass Blvd and 135th Street, inscribed with the short poem: "The night is beautiful / So the faces of my people. / The stars are beautiful, / So the eyes of my people. / Beautiful, also, is the sun. /Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people." Created by artists Ogundipe Fayomi and Otto Neals, the metal plate is one of what used to be 20 embedded along the north and south sides of the block.
Central Harlem Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and 130th St
This playground was renamed after the literary giant in 2020 as part of a citywide initiative to honor the Black experience.
East Harlem 20 E 127th St between Madison and Fifth Aves
Hughes lived on the top floor of this Harlem brownstone for the last 20 years of his life, and his home was designated a New York City Landmark in 1981. The house, now a platform for poets, musicians and artists who continue the poet's legacy, is only open during events. February's schedule includes four African drum classes with Yahaya Kabore of Burkina Faso.
Morningside Heights Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam and 112th St
Langton Hughes is one of 55 American poets honored at this historic neo-Gothic church in Morningside Heights. Inscribed with his name and dates, the simple stone tablet features one of his most famous lines: "My soul has grown deep like the rivers."