Mount Morris Park Historic District

Orientation & Geography

North America, United States, New York City

Mount Morris Park Historic District was designated to be a historic district by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1971. It is a large 16-block area in east central Harlem. The boundaries are West 118th and West 124th Streets, Fifth Avenue, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue). "Doctor's Row" is West 122nd Street, Mount Morris Park West and Malcolm X Boulevard. The name Mount Morris remains a mystery to some despite the 18th century local prominence of the Gouverneur Morris family. The houses that cover Mount Morris Park Historic District are designed in the late 19th and early 20th century residential row houses and church architecture. There are several unaltered streetscapes. Romanesque Revival, neo-Grec, Queen Anne, and 1893's World Columbian Exposition in Chicago were among the influences that created the eclectic style from the Gilded Age. Before the European settlements the rocky hill of Manhattan mica-schist was used by the Native Americans as a lookout station to see over the entire island. In 1658, Dutch colonists established Nieuw Haarlem and named the hill Slang Berg (which translates to "snake hill"). The nearness of the Harlem River made Slang Berg a militarily strategic location. On September 4, 1839, Mount Morris Square became a 20-acre (81,000 m) residential square which was formerly a race track for horses, out of 173 acres (0.70 km) owned by the Benson family land grant farm. In 1973, the name of the land was changed to Marcus Garvey Park. This was in honor of the international Pan-African movement leader. In 1973, a part of the current district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1981, the Mount Morris Park Community Association (MMPCIA) was created. They wanted to make a 21st century Renaissance. They promoted buildings such as: Apollo Theatre, National Black Theatre, Schomburg Library, the Studio of Harlem, and many African and Caribbean restaurants that serve soul food in Central Harlem. They sponsored annual Historic Neighborhood House Tours, held on the second week of June. The association features historic brownstones and landmark buildings open for the public to view. In 1996, the boundaries of Mount Morris Park District were expanded. They were pushed west to include blocks between Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue, and south to include some of West 118th Street. An extension is contemplated to reflect the area on National Register of Historic Places.