555 Edgecombe Ave

Harlem & Upper Manhattan

When completed in 1916, this brick beaux-arts giant was Washington Heights’ first luxury apartment complex, with a concierge, a separate workers' entrance and no fewer than three elevators. It was initially available only to whites, but the neighborhood's transformation from predominantly Irish and Jewish to African American saw the building's residents become mostly black by the 1940s.

Its tenants would include some of New York’s most prominent African Americans, among them boxer Joe Louis and music heavyweights Lena Horne, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Today the building’s cultural legacy lives on every Sunday afternoon, when veteran musician Marjorie Eliot throws open the doors to her apartment, inviting anyone and everyone into her living room for one of the city’s most enchanting jazz jams.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Harlem & Upper Manhattan attractions

1. Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum

0.05 MILES

Built in 1765 as a country retreat for Roger and Mary Morris, this columned mansion is the oldest house in Manhattan. It is also famous for having briefly…

2. 10–18 Jumel Terrace

0.07 MILES

Along 10 to 18 Jumel Terrace stands a row of town houses, designed in the 1890s by the renowned architect Henri Fouchaux. At No 16 lived prolific…

3. Sylvan Terrace

0.07 MILES

The wooden houses on storybook Sylvan Terrace – resplendent with their high narrow stoops, dentiled canopies and boldly paneled wooden doors – constitute…

5. Yankee Stadium

0.72 MILES

The Boston Red Sox like to talk about their record of nine World Series championships in the last 90 years…well, the Yankees have won a mere 27 in that…

6. Convent Avenue Baptist Church

0.75 MILES

A lovely Gothic-style church offering traditional Baptist services since the 1940s. Morning congregations are fairly dressy.

7. Hamilton Heights Historic District

0.87 MILES

Two parallel streets in Hamilton Heights – Convent Ave and Hamilton Tce – contain a landmark stretch of historic limestone and brownstone town houses from…

8. Hamilton Grange

0.96 MILES

This Federal-style retreat belonged to Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who owned a 32-acre country estate here in the early 1800s. Unfortunately,…