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Hamilton Heights is a neighborhood in the northern part of Manhattan, which is a borough of New York City. It lies between Manhattanville to the south and Washington Heights to the north. It contains the sub-neighborhood of Sugar Hill.
Hamilton Heights is bounded by 135th Street to the south, Riverside Drive to the west, 155th Street to the north, and Edgecombe Avenue to the east. The community derives its name from Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who lived the last two years of his life in the area when it was still largely farmland; specifically, he lived in what is now known as Hamilton Grange National Monument. It is located within Manhattan Community Board 9.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Hamilton Heights was 48,520, a decrease of 2,035 (4.0%) from the 50,555 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 367.41 acres (148.69 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 132.1 inhabitants per acre (84,500/sq mi; 32,600/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 10.9% (5,287) White, 32.2% (15,646) African American, 0.2% (119) Native American, 2.2% (1,067) Asian, 0.0% (15) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (178) from other races, and 1.8% (884) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.2% (25,324) of the population.
Housing and diversity
Most of the housing dates from the extension of the elevated and subway lines at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th Century. This fairly elegant housing became less desirable to white residents in the 1930s and 1940s as the population changed from white to black, even though the black residents were just as affluent as the white residents. There are spacious apartment buildings, brownstones and other row houses prominently lining the leafy eastern streets of Hamilton Heights, an area traditionally home to a substantial black professional class. The brownstone revival of the 1960s and 1970s led to a new movement of middle-class blacks in the area. Latinos arrived in large numbers in the 1980s, with Dominicans making up the majority. Today the local population is changing again, with Hispanics constituting a majority of the population followed by African Americans, West Indians and Whites. Gentrification since 2005 has dramatically increased the proportion of non-Hispanic whites. Many actors, artists, teachers, and other professionals now reside in Hamilton Heights.
After the Russian Revolution, especially after the 1940s, many Ukrainians, Russian White émigré, and Polish found their way to New York City. Hamilton Heights had a very heavy population of Eastern European heritages, with a predominantly large amount of Russians living in this immediate area. There were a couple of Russian Orthodox Churches erected, Russian Book stores, bakeries, grocery and delicatessen stores including theatres all along Broadway. The house on the corner of Broadway and west 141st street was known as the "Russian House" (Русский Дом) and a Russian library was on the other corner. During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, a lot of these Russians began to move out to suburban areas of New York and New Jersey. The only remaining landmark of this era is the Holy Fathers Russian Orthodox Church Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, located on 524 W. 153rd Street, with some notable Russian Americans buried at the bordering Trinity Cemetery, New York City.
Hamilton Heights is the home of City College of New York (CCNY), Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Harlem School of the Arts and Aaron Davis Hall.
The neighborhood offers several parks, including the recently built Riverbank State Park, embedded in Riverside Park which runs along the Hudson River west of Hamilton Heights.
Historic Hamilton Heights comprises the Hamilton Heights Historic District and the Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill Historic District Extension, both designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. One of the highest hills in Hamilton Heights slopes up from the Hudson River at 155th Street, and contains the Trinity Cemetery. Many individual buildings in the district are also landmarked, including Shepard Hall on the CCNY campus, and the building that once housed The High School of Music & Art.
The New York City Subway's IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line stops in Hamilton Heights at the 137th Street – City College and 145th Street stations (1 train). The IND Eighth Avenue Line runs under St. Nicholas Avenue, providing service at 135th Street (A B C trains), 145th Street (A B C D trains) and 155th Street (A C trains). The IND Concourse Line branches off north of the 145th Street station under Saint Nicholas Place to serve the 155th Street (B D trains).
The MTA Regional Bus Operations' M3, M4, M5, M10, M11, M100, M101, Bx6, Bx19, Bx33 buses serve the area.
Sugar Hill is a United States historic district in the northern part of the Hamilton Heights section of the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is roughly bounded by West 155th Street to the north, West 145th Street to the south, Edgecombe Avenue to the east, and Amsterdam Avenue to the west. The equivalent New York City Historic Districts are:
The city districts were designated between 2000 and 2002, and the Federal district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Federal district has 414 contributing buildings, two contributing sites, three contributing structures, and one contributing object.
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 as W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Walter Francis White and Roy Wilkins.
Langston Hughes wrote about the relative affluence of the neighborhood in his essay "Down Under in Harlem" published in The New Republic in 1944:
If you are white and are reading this vignette, don't take it for granted that all Harlem is a slum. It isn't. There are big apartment houses up on the hill, Sugar Hill, and up by City College -- nice high-rent-houses with elevators and doormen, where Canada Lee lives, and W. C. Handy, and the George S. Schuylers, and the Walter Whites, where colored families send their babies to private kindergartens and their youngsters to Ethical Culture School.
Terry Mulligan's 2012 memoir "Sugar Hill, Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem" is a chronicle of the writer's experiences growing up in the 1950s and '60s in the neighborhood, where her neighbors included future United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, early rock n' roll legend Frankie Lymon, and New York baseball great Willie Mays, among other well-known names.