Photo: Cititour.com

Long known as a major area of African-American culture and business, Harlem reaches north above 96th Street in Manhattan. The region is further broken down into Central Harlem, Spanish Harlem, West Harlem, and East Harlem. In the 1800s, Harlem was still a region of farms and country estates -- vastly different than the crowded urban area it is today. Due to a variety of socio-economic factors, Harlem was home to an almost entirely black community by the 1920s. In the decade of the 1920s, Harlem became home to an explosion of African-American culture called the Harlem Renaissance, as residents of the area produced incredible works of literature, jazz music, and theater.

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Harlem was known mainly for being an area plagued by the sorts of crime common to marginalized areas. Drug use, gang activity, and poverty ruled until the city's government, under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, cracked down on the drug use and criminal activity. Today, Harlem is a much safer area, although it still struggles to shake off its bad reputation. Visitors to the area will enjoy seeing the famous Apollo Theater, the elegant architecture which hints at the areas glory days, and a variety of ethnic eateries in kitchens that create some of the city's best soul food

Molly O'Neill