The most elite apartment building in Harlem

Paulrobeson555EdgecombeavenueWhen the stately Beaux-Arts apartment building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue opened in 1916, it rented to white tenants only.

But the population of Harlem was already changing, from mostly Irish and Jewish residents to African-Americans.

By the 1940s, the building, located on 160th Street at the edge of the posh Sugar Hill neighborhood, was exclusively black.

Sitting high on a bluff and commanding gorgeous views of the treetops of Edgecombe Avenue and across the Harlem River, these 13 floors plus a penthouse were home to Harlem’s elite.

JoelouisThat included academics, entertainers, and athletes such as Count Basie, Joe Louis (below), Sonny Rollins, sociologist Kenneth Clark, and Paul Robeson (above).

And though today it’s officially within the borders of Washington Heights, 555 Edgecombe is historically identified as part of Harlem.

It’s not an especially distinctive building architecturally, but it is handsome and sturdy, an emblem of the neighborhood’s prime years as a center of artistic and activist achievement.

[Photo right: Property Shark]

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4 Responses to “The most elite apartment building in Harlem”

  1. Limo New York City Says:

    Great history you are providing here – New York City is so rich in history, and it’s so nice to see people exploring.

  2. afinelyne Says:

    I must mention that Marjorie Eliot’s Parlor Jazz still goes on every Sunday in that building. If you’ve never been – Google her name for info. It is pure delight. Here is 1 link for info:

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Very cool, thanks for the info! It’s a great reason to check out this beautiful part of Manhattan too.

  4. bfly30 Says:

    I would’ve followed but considering there is no Harlem tag… I will enjoy your blog from a distance. Great posts btw

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