More than just a bike ride.
I Bike Harlem tours offer riders a guided multi-decade history of Harlem complemented by a visual and physical experience of Harlem’s most popular and historic neighborhoods, residences, speakeasies, jazz clubs, restaurants and institutions of art and culture.
From its beginnings as a burlesque hall open only to white audiences to the unforgettable shows of James Brown at his peak in the 1960s to the popular weekly Amateur Night that was years ahead of American Idol, the stories lurking behind the scenes are just as rich as the ones parading across the stage today. It’s a place where, as they say, stars are born and legends are made.
Opened in 1923, the Cotton Club on 142nd St & Lenox Ave in the heart of Harlem, New York was operated by white New York gangster Owney Madden. Madden used the Cotton Club as an outlet to sell his “#1 Beer” to the prohibition crowd. Shows at the Cotton Club were musical revues that featured dancers, singers, comedians, and variety acts, as well as a house band. Duke Ellington led that band from 1927 to 1930.
Marcus Garvey Park
Marcus Garvey Park is one of the oldest public squares in Manhattan. Central to the life of Harlem for more than 150 years, it has served as a meeting place for neighbors, a front yard and play area for schoolchildren, and a holy place for members of local churches.
As Harlem became first a refuge for blacks and then a ghetto, the homes and apartments retained their prestige and attracted (by 1919) many ambitious as well as successful blacks in medicine, dentistry, law and the arts. As a result, "Strivers' Row" became a popular term for the district in the 1920s and 1930s.
Abyssinian Baptist Church
Named Abyssinian Baptist Church after the historic name of Ethiopia. Founded in 1809, it was the third oldest Baptist church in America.
Sugar Hill got its name in the 1920s when the neighborhood became a popular place for wealthy African Americans to live during the Harlem Renaissance. Reflective of the "sweet life" there, Sugar Hill featured rowhouses in which lived such prominent African Americans.