Welcome to Harlem: A Citi Bike Ride Guide

The Harlem Renaissance, the cultural movement of the 1920s and ‘30s is home to the most powerful and significant African-American artwork of the 20th century. Harlem is also home to the iconic Apollo Theater! This guide will take you through some of our favorite art expressed on buildings, in galleries and museums, and on coffee shops. The ride starts at the northernmost Citi Bike station and loops in and through Harlem, ending at 118th St and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

My name is Judi Desire and I am the founder of Uptown & Boogie Bicycle Advocacy, an organization that provides cyclist based social activities to the Uptown Manhattan and Bronx communities. My goal is to introduce greater and better opportunities for New Yorker cyclists to commute and travel throughout the Uptown and Bronx areas as well as to promote awareness on the health benefits of cycling.

Since I live in northern Harlem, I started my journey on W 129 St & Convent Ave., which is the most northern Citi Bike station in Harlem, because Convent Avenue has the most beautiful historical blocks, and the 126 feet elevation provides the best sunset view in Harlem.

My initial introduction to the City College of New York (CCNY) campus, was visiting the Solar Roof Pod located on the roof of the Spitzer School of Architecture building during the Open House New York weekend in 2014.

Therefore, I began the ride exploring the CCNY campus where you will find the structure of General Alexander Stewart Webb - born in New York City- in front of stunning Collegiate Gothic buildings throughout the CCNY campus.

After taking in the stunning scenery, exit the CCNY campus on140th Street and Convent Ave and ride south along Saint Nicholas Terrace. Saint Nicholas Terrace stretches along Saint Nicholas Park, where you will find Alexander Hamilton Grange National Memorial - George Washington’s right-hand man. The original location of the home was on Hamilton's 32 acres estate in Upper Manhattan, but it was moved by the St. Luke's Episcopal Church to it’s currently location on the edge of Saint Nicholas Park.

Many cyclists riding along Saint Nicholas Ave. test their climbing skills by biking up West 141 Street, passing the home to Convent Ave. Instead, ride downhill and enjoy the beauty of Saint Nicholas Terrance and head towards West 125th Street, Harlem’s commercial district.

Growing up in New York City the 80s and 90s, the arts played a major role in my life and gave me an outlet to express my teenage emotions. Due to education budget cuts, art funding in the public school system reach a decline year after year, making access to the art a far reach to students enrolled in the public system.

The Create! Harlem mural by Thrive Collective, found on the Templo Biblico Church facing Amsterdam Ave. between West 126th Street and 128th Street, brings awareness to the issue. Thrive Collective provides quality arts education and committed adult mentors in predominantly low-income communities throughout New York City.

Head towards Old Broadway (Bloomingdale Road) and West 125th Street, also known as the “original” Broadway in Manhattanville. In 1900, Harlem was the world’s largest Jewish community, evidenced by the Old Broadway Synagogue, a Orthodox Jewish synagogue incorporated in 1911.

What’s not old in Harlem, is the continuous political movements and struggles within the Harlem community throughout decades.

While attending a talk at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema about the documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, a former Black Panther member stated we must recognize and acknowledge the non-blacks who contributed to the civil rights movement of blacks throughout American during 1954 – 1968. The From Harlem with Love: A Mural Project for Yuri & Malcolm mural unveiled on October 26, 2016 is lead by artists/activists inspired by the lives, legacies, deep friendship between Yuri Kochiyama & Malcolm X- & the Kochiyama family (and you can find more info on the project here).

Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese-American, a civil rights activist and a friend of Malcolm X (Malcolm Little) was assassinated on February 21, 1965 in Washington Heights, New York City, NY.

You can’t leave Central Harlem without visiting or riding by The Apollo Theater on 253 West 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (formerly Seventh Avenue) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (formerly Eighth Avenue)!

I didn’t realize attending amateur night at the Apollo Theater as a teenager, would result in an everlasting memory of Mister “Sandman” until I saw Paul Deo’s Planet Harlem mural on the side of Corner Social, f on West 126th Street and Malcolm X Blvd. Paul Deo, grew up in Harlem and was influenced by the Harlem and Black-American greats when creating the Planet Harlem mural.

After visiting the Planet Harlem mural, dock your Citi Bike at the Lennox Ave & 126th St and take a rest at Corner Social or Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar for happy hour!

When you’re ready to hop back on a bike, head south on Malcolm X Blvd and you will pass St. Martin's Episcopal Church, which holds the 2nd largest bell carillon in the United States. The church is currently raising funds to proceed with the restoration and preservation of this historic community landmark, so go to their GoFundMe page to learn more.

Continue heading down Malcolm X Blvd. The block between West 122nd and West 123rd streets are lined by 10 late 1880s to early 1890s brownstones and additional fine churches. Dock your bike at W 118th & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and pop into Harlem Coffee Co. for a hot coffee or drink at the Harlem Coffee Co, which opened on January 7th 2016.

You can dock the Citi Bike on W 118th St & Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd or W 115th St & Lenox Ave.