4 tales about staying in Harlem for 2 weeks

Updated: Apr 16, 2018


yellow cab nyc, queens taxi driver, harmen van der vaart
Driving through Queens in a yellow cab

"Are you sure this is your apartment?" // No 1.

Asked our concerned taxi driver when we arrived at our apartment on 126th Street in the infamous neighborhood Harlem (Manhattan). "Uhhh, yes." I replied and got a little nervous about our safety for the coming two weeks.


The hosts of our apartment soon came to meet us after we called and they kindly explained all the details about our lovely brownstone house from 1910. 'The neighborhood can get rough at times but during the daytime you should be fine.', they told us. This was reassuring enough for us, so okay, bring it on!


Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, harlem, 125th St., harmen van der vaart
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on the left

"Excuse me sir, did you hear a gunshot?" // No. 2

The policeman asked politely after I had shut the front door to go outside. "No, I just came out for a smoke." I answered. It was about 10 o'clock in the evening. A big part of the street was blocked by Police Line Do Not Cross barrier tape. It appeared there had just been a drive-by shooting aimed at a person sitting in a car only thirty feet away from my walk-up. Detectives were busy scamming the parameter for evidence while I was finishing my cigarette. Yes, it's true, at night things can get rough in Harlem.