Harlem stretches from the East River west to the Hudson River between 155th Street; where it meets Washington Heights?to a ragged border along the south. Central Harlem begins at 110th Street, at the northern boundary of Central Park; Spanish Harlem extends east Harlem's boundaries south to 96th Street, while in the west it begins north of Upper West Side, which gives an irregular border west of Morningside Avenue.Overall, Harlem consists of three parts: East Harlem, West Harlem, and Central Harlem.
Throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Harlem earned its reputation as the Mecca for Jazz and blues. Venues like the Cotton Club and Apollo Theater made stars out of entertainers such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Michael Jackson, D'Angelo and Lauryn Hill. While the Cotton Club closed its doors years ago, The Apollo Theater still lights up with major headlining acts. Harlem has a unique history. Long before it became the diverse enclave it is today, Harlem was a haven for European immigrants and citizens of European descent. Attracted by its fertile soil and location, which presented military advantages, Dutch settlers founded Harlem in 1658. Governor Peter Stuyvesant named the town Nieuw Haarlem after a city in Holland.