West Harlem: Take the A train, of course—or the B, C, or D, which run along St. Nicholas Avenue. Farther west, the 1 and 9 trains travel up Broadway. Central Harlem: The 2 and 3 trains travel up Lenox Avenue. East Harlem: The 6 train stops at all stations along Lexington Avenue.
Buses are the best way to travel distances within Harlem; they run along the avenues and the principal crosstown streets—125th, 135th, and 145th.
Yellow taxis are a rare sight, but there are plenty of livery cabs, which should be just as reliable. Negotiate the fare (tip included) with the driver before you get into the car. The cost of traveling by taxi from Harlem to midtown is usually $15 to $20.
The finest armchair tour of Harlem is Harlem Lost and Found, by Michael Henry Adams, and beginning next month, the Museum of the City of New York will host a companion exhibition of photographs, maps, and ephemera of Harlem history. Adams also leads customized excursions (212/426-5757).
More suited to walking around is Andrew S. Dolkart and Gretchen S. Sorin's Touring Historic Harlem. The small paperback—with great maps and informative history—is divided into walking tours of Harlem's four landmark districts.
Hamilton Heights stretches from 140th Street to 155th, between Edgecombe and Amsterdam Avenues. Architectural historians seem to agree that the most noteworthy block is 144th Street between Convent and Amsterdam.
Mount Morris Park The boundaries of this district, as designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, run from Mount Morris Park west to Lenox Avenue and include the streets from 119th to 124th. But buildings of architectural interest extend farther south, to Central Park, and west, to Manhattan Avenue.
Striver's Row consists of two blocks: 138th and 139th Streets between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (Eighth Avenue).
Jumel Terrace, between 160th and 162nd Streets, just east of St. Nicholas Avenue, offers the handsome Morris-Jumel mansion and Sylvan Terrace, a magnificently preserved cobblestoned block of wooden row houses.