Harlem's signs, whether they're neon, flashing with bright bulbs, painted by hand or issued by the city, are a part of what make the neighborhood such a special place.
A captivating blend of old and new, some are lovingly restored remnants of the past, while others have been around for only a handful of years, already leaving their mark.
Still others are in such a sorry state of disrepair, they might not last much longer–all the more reason to visit them now.
Here, then, are the 10 most iconic signs in Harlem–the one you're likely to see scrolling through Instagram–and where to find them. From south to north, they are:
1. Harlem State of Mind
Angel of Harlem, 2272 Frederick Douglass Blvd and W 122nd St
While five-year-old restaurant Angel of Harlem is better known for its DJ-driven bottomless brunches, its "Harlem State of Mind" sign is a perennial favorite photo op.
2. The Apollo
253 W 125th between Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Frederick Douglass Blvds
The Apollo Theater isn't just a New York City landmark, it's also on the National Register of Historic Places–meaning its iconic sign, maybe the most celebrated in all of Harlem, is here to stay.
3. 125th St and Lenox Ave
So many of Harlem's streets have famous names, but the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue is a nexus of the best.
4. Harlem-125th Street
Park Avenue and E 125th Street
Few shutterbugs waiting for the Metro-North on 125th Street can resist taking a picture of the sign announcing its famous destination.
328 Malcolm X Blvd between W 126th and W 127th Sts
Sylvia's, one of the neighborhood's oldest and most iconic soul food restaurants, wouldn't be Sylvia's without its vintage flashing bulb sign.
6. Harlem YMCA
180 W 135th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
Photo: Beyond My Ken
One of the few original neon signs still aglow in the neighborhood, the Harlem Y's signature red sign is easy to spot on the 1932 building's central tower. (You can thank the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission for that.)
7. Private Road Walk Your Horses
Strivers' Row, W 138th St between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
Hidden on Harlem's elegant Strivers' Row, this sign recalls the neighborhood's historic–and now practically unimaginable–past.
8. Mishkin's Drugs
1714 Amsterdam Ave and W 145th St
Mishkin's is a family-owned pharmacy that moved to its current location in the 1930s; its neon sign went up in the 1950s and has hung there ever since.
739 St. Nicholas Ave and W 147th St
This elegant townhouse on St. Nicholas Avenue is now fully residential, but the run-down neon sign out front is a colorful reminder of its commercial past.
10. 400 Tavern
400 W 148th St between St Nicholas and Convent Aves
Although the 400 Tavern closed decades ago–the club operated from the 1940s to the 1970s–its old sign still hangs on 148th Street in Harlem's Sugar Hill.
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