Hamilton Heights is a district in the northern section 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 neighborhood of Sugar Hill.
Hamilton Heights is bounded by 135th Street to the south, the Hudson River 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.
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.
…It’s got students of all colors. It’s got old people who keep history and tell tall tales.
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” 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 the length 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 Church 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.