Seven Blocks: East Harlem's "El Barrio"

June 10, 2011 2:00:22 PM PDT
You don't have to walk far from the station to know why the 110th street and Lexington Ave stop in East Harlem is affectionately called "El Barrio."

Within feet of the stop you will spot a neighborhood botanica, a religious store where you will find candles, herbal medicine and religious items native to Latin America. Next door, a store selling vegetables and fruits common to the islands, and The Cristo Rey barber shop. In all three, Spanish is the preferred language.

Barber Werner Adams says this is where people talk to each other about their problems, it's like the movie "Barbershop," only this is the real thing.

Within 7 blocks of the station, there are many reminders of the vibrant Latino community here and its history in El Barrio.

110th street was re-named after the musician and native son Tito Puente, often called the King of Latin Music. 116th street is named after Luis Munoz Marin, Puerto Rico's first Governor.

This is also where you'll find the Cruz brothers. They came here from Puerto Rico in 1961 and their corner stand is a long time fixture in a neighborhood rich with pride.

"I was the first commercial business on the street. I started with a $2 dollar license, everybody used to come to the Marqueta," said Wyson Cruz.

Today the La Marqueta along Park Ave is a shell of its former self, but an effort to bring the famous Latin American Marketplace back to its glory is in the works.

About 5 blocks away from the station is El Museo del Bario. New York's leading Latino cultural institution and one of the gems in the neighborhood. It welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic and cultural tapestry that is the fabric of the community.

Finally, be sure to stop by the corner cart at Lexington and 116th street and try a coquito coconut ice cream.

Great food, diverse history, and lots of pride can all be found within 7 blocks of the 110th street stop in East Harlem.