The name Hamilton Heights probably rings a bell. You might remember a famous US patriot from way back in Revolutionary War times named Alexander Hamilton. Surely you’ve heard of the famous Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’, based on the famous patriot’s life.
Fun Fact! The movie and musical ‘In The Heights’ is not set in Hamilton Heights, even though it is by the same composer as ‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda. ‘In The Heights’ is set in Washington Heights, another neighborhood in New York City.
Good thing that confusion is all cleared up. Because this article isn’t about Washington Heights. This article aims to tell you what kind of neighborhood Hamilton Heights is and if it’s safe. Want to find out?
Heart Of Harlem
Hamilton Heights is located in Harlem. Harlem is not one of the five boroughs, but actually a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan. New York City is made up of five boroughs and within those boroughs are a bunch of smaller sub-neighborhoods.
For example, Brooklyn, the most populous of the five boroughs, includes both the Bedford Stuy and Park Slope neighborhoods and plenty of others in between the income disparity of those two.
Harlem stretches across Central Park, from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side. The amount of crime you will encounter in Harlem varies greatly depending on what area of Harlem you land in.
Hamilton Heights borders fall within Harlem. Hamilton is bounded north to south from one hundred thirty-fifth street to one hundred fifty-fifth street. To the west is Riverside Drive, which rests on the majestic, scenic Hudson River. You can see upstate from there!
Bordering the east is Edgecombe Avenue and Saint Nicholas Avenue.
History Of Hamilton Heights
Hamilton Heights is in fact, you guessed it, named for Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton lived the last two years of his remarkable life in the area.
Back then, Upper Manhattan was pretty much still just farmland. One of the main attractions of Hamilton Heights is the memorial erected in his honor, the Hamilton Grange National Monument. Hamilton has a number of other attractions which will be mentioned later in this article.
Eventually that farmland became residences and the area really developed after the introduction of the subway. The architecture reflects that period and is full of gorgeous gothic buildings, ranging from French Renaissance to Dutch styles and romanesque designs.
Nowadays, Hamilton Heights is a hub for businesses and young professionals and is becoming a more desirable place to live due to the limited housing in New York City.
How Is The Real Estate in Hamilton Heights?
Hamilton Heights has a lower average cost of living than many other parts of New York City, but it is still slightly higher than the national average in the United States. Presently, Hamilton Heights is in a rising upward trend when it comes to housing prices.
The median cost of buying a house in Hamilton heights is between five hundred fifty thousand and six hundred twenty five thousand. Median rental prices are around two thousand five hundred for a one-bedroom. More room than that will run you upwards of three thousand dollars a month. Studios can be found for under two thousand.
Many of the apartments are spacious and aesthetically appealing, drawing young professionals and creative types, moving gentrification forward. The buildings housing these units are often row houses or brownstones.
Brick walk-ups are also common and some of the apartments and condos dotting Riverside Drive feature astonishing views of the Hudson River.
Deciphering The Demographics
The total population of Hamilton Heights hovers around fifty thousand. That’s within a radius of less than half a square mile.
There has been a major increase in the number of white adults living there in the past two decades and a slight decrease in the black population. The Latino population has remained steady.
Whites account for about ten percent of the population while Blacks account for fifteen percent. Over half the population identify as Latino. The rest of the population identifies as other nationalities.
Hamilton Heights is actually identified as a low-income neighborhood, with the average annual income also hovering around fifty thousand. In addition, the cost of living is expected to rise in the area due to gentrification.
Talking About Transportation
One common complaint amongst residents is the subpar transportation. They cite things like the elevators not working at certain stations. They also say that sometimes delays can be more than a hassle. Up to forty five minutes late sometimes.
However, the neighborhood is centrally located so commute times sans delays are not so bad. The commute to downtown, which is about ten miles, takes forty five to fifty minutes, while the commute to Rockefeller Center in midtown lasts just half an hour!
What Is There To Do In Hamilton Heights?
There’s lots to do in Hamilton Heights!
Starting with the Alexander Hamilton exhibit. It’s actually housed in his former home, which was moved from its original location one one hundred forty third street in the nineteenth century. Just two and half blocks southeast. It features an interactive exhibit and is designated a national historic landmark.
There is also a fantastic twenty eight acre state park above the Hudson River, Riverbank State Park. This park has something for everybody. Basketball courts, pools, a theater, tennis courts, running track, playground and a restaurant. No excuse not to get some exercise!
Exercise is important because Hamilton Heights in particular struggles with air quality issues and as a result of fine particulates in the air, residents are vulnerable to health problems. There are high health issue statistics. Luckily, uninsured residents are few.
But Hamilton Heights in general has good weather similar to the patterns of the greater NY area, with temperatures typically climbing as high as the eighties in the summertime. The average wintertime low is above freezing – thirty five degrees. It can get humid in the summer.
The nightlife is generally made up of your small, friendly neighborhood bars. Some places worth checking out include Sugar Hill Cafe, a studious little coffee shop. La Flor De Broadway offers Caribbean cuisine. Their specialty is a Cuban sandwich considered to be among the best in the city. For a nightcap, try Uptown Bourbon,a cozy bar found – where else – in the more uptown part!
Harlem Public is also a local favorite that offers classic American staples.
A Minute For Meditation
Life in the big city can be hectic. One appealing aspect of Hamilton Heights is all the peaceful places you can find to just slow down and appreciate life. Listen to your own thoughts for a minute.
These places include the lighthouse by the river, the bike path and the rocks in St. Nicholas Park. They inspire introspection and contemplation. Jackie Robinson Park, named for the first ever African American major league baseball player, is a lovely place to just sit and catch up on your favorite book.
Making New Friends
Most residents say that Hamilton Heights has a folksy, small town vibe. Neighbors are very friendly and familiar faces multiply rapidly the longer you live there.
Hamilton Heights is a tight-knit community where some people have known each other all their lives! You’ll always receive a ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’. Neighbors look out for each other.
Is it kid and family friendly? Yes! There are numerous playgrounds you can easily walk to and even an ice skating rink in Riverside Park. There’s also a children’s museum of art and storytelling. Who knows, maybe your kid could even grow up to be the next Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Getting An Education
Learning lasts a lifetime! How is the access to education in Hamilton Heights?
For children, fantastic. Most schools in the area are highly rated by parents. Hamilton Heights is part of Community District 9, which operates the public schools. Top- rated private schools include Lubavitcher Yeshiva and Machon Chana. There exists a multitude of local private day care as well.
For adults, also fantastic. Parts of Hamilton Heights have a cool and funky campus vibe, since the neighborhood borders the Ivy League institution Columbia University. Besides Columbia, the more accessible City College campus is located in Hamilton Heights as well as Harlem School of Arts.
But Is Hamilton Heights Safe?
That’s, after all, why you’re really reading this article, right?
On the whole, residents do say they feel mostly safe walking around. Having close knit neighbors means more vigilant eyes watching out for each other. Areas near the college campuses tend to have heavy foot traffic and are more closely patrolled.
Most of Hamilton Heights is served by the 30th Precinct of the New York Police Department, except for the City College area, which is patrolled by the Twenty-Sixth Precinct. On the whole, Hamilton Heights is much safer now. The precinct has seen a seventy-eight percent decrease in crime in the last thirty years.
However, the area still has a higher crime rate than other neighborhoods in the same borough and throughout all five boroughs. It is recommended to stay near schools and playgrounds where child protection is in effect.
As in any big city, be aware of your surroundings, try not to walk down dark alleys alone at night, keep your valuables protected and stick to highly populated areas and you should be just fine.
Hamilton Heights awaits you with a presidential salute!
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. New York is not just a city to me; it’s a living, breathing entity. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.