Harlem Memory Walk

Developed by transnational feminist scholars at Columbia University, this memory walk takes viewers through disappearing, hidden landmarks of women’s, Black, and LGBTQI political resistance in Harlem.

Harlem Memory Walk

New York, Manhattan, New York 10019, United States

Created By: Columbia University

Tour Information

A memory walk is not an endeavor in tourism or even fieldwork; it is a meditative experiment meant to arouse social consciousness by witnessing the evolution of a memory site with one’s own eyes.

This memory walk directs our gaze through history to spotlight stories of political struggle and inequality that risk being engulfed by the evolution of time and contemporary housing politics reshaping neighborhoods in New York. Our intersectional lens seeks to bring to light conflicts not only over race but also class, gender, and sexuality, all of which have defined the communities and arts of Harlem.

As we walk through Harlem, the challenges of memory quickly become apparent: many of the sites whose stories this walk tells no longer exist. And so, we invite you not only to consider questions of intersectionality-- contestations over race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and nationality combine to create overlapping oppressions-- within the historical events themselves. We also ask you to consider how the politics of urban space and gentrification affect the construction, preservation, and transmission of memory in the present.

Throughout the walk, you will encounter a variety of literary and media artifacts-- homemade scrapbook pages, antiquated newspaper articles, job listings, poems, short story excerpts, political speeches, and more-- that aim to inspire meaningful connections to human rights struggles across histories and cultures.

As you walk, we invite you to think critically about your own identity in relation to the neighborhood. Whose memory are we mapping? We offer this memory walk as a way to cross paths between the memories that we bring with us and the memories that we are building together in every step we take through the streets of Harlem. This is a learning process that does not end in Harlem, but that starts here. For us, this is the beginning of new transnational memories, an opening to new paths for collaboration.

This memory walk was conceived in 2015 and revised in 2019 as a joint project by six graduate students from Columbia University and New York University in Women Mobilizing Memory, a transnational feminist working group of faculty, students, and activists at the Center for the Study of Social Difference. For more information, please consult our recently anthology, which covers the origin of our memory walk projects and more.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

To start the walk by subway, take the A/B/C/D to 125th Street Station and walk east on W. 125th St. to the Apollo Theater (253 W. 125th Street), the first stop. By R. Ertug Altinay This neoclassical theater was built in 1913-14. The Apol... Read more
Walk east on W. 125th St. to the intersection of 125th and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. Gather at the Adam Clayton Powell statue and look diagonally (southwest) to the former Hotel Theresa (2082 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.), now a hug... Read more
To reach the original and permanent location of the Studio Museum (144 West 125th Street), cross W. 125th St. and then continue heading east halfway down the block. Visit the museum if it's open. However, beware that this location is und... Read more
Walk east on W. 125th St. towards Lenox Ave. Turn left on 5th Ave, then make a right onto E. 127th St. Walk partway down the block to Langston Hughes’ brownstone (20 E. 127th St.). By Nicole Gervasio Langston Hughes, an African Amer... Read more
Return to the corner of E. 127th St. and 5th Ave. Cross the street to the west side of 5th Ave. Walk north on 5th Ave., passing W. 131st St., to the brownstone with rainbow bricks. This building once housed Gumby’s Salon and Book Studi... Read more
From 5th Ave., make a right onto W. 131st St. Turn left at Lenox/Malcolm X Blvd. and then right onto W. 130th St. Continue walking until you get to the building that once housed Utopia Children’s House (170 W 130th St.), which will be on ... Read more
Continue walking west on W. 130th St. until you reach Adam Clayton Powell at the next block. Turn right onto Adam Clayton Powell. Continue heading north until you reach the construction site and scaffolding at the intersection of W. 132... Read more
Head north on Adam Clayton Powell. Turn right onto W. 135th St. and walk to Speakers’ Corner (W. 125th St. & Lenox/Malcolm X Blvd.). By Andrea Crow Many cities around the world have their own Speakers' Corners where orators ga... Read more
Follow the wall to the entrance of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd.) on Lenox/Malcolm X Blvd. Pause to view the Schomburg's current exhibitions and the resting place of Langston Hughes' ashes in the... Read more
Upon leaving the museum, turn left onto Lenox/Malcolm X and head north, past the Schomburg. Make a left onto W. 138th St. and then another left onto Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. Stop at the new luxury condominium complex called The Rennie... Read more
Turn left, heading south on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. Make an immediate right onto W. 136th St. Keep walking until you encounter the apartment building that once housed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (239 W. 136th St.). By A... Read more
Keep walking east on W. 136th St. until reaching the parking lot and rebuilt townhouse where 267 House (267 W 136th St.) once stood, which will be just before the intersection of W. 136th St. and Frederick Douglass Blvd. By Andrea Crow H... Read more


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