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jun 09

Harlem: Alexander Hamilton's house is moved...again

This weekend, Alexander Hamilton's historic home was set on wheels and inched several blocks toward a spot inside St. Nicholas Park. (See video below.)

It isn't the first time in its 206 years that the house has been moved. Back in 1889, during the height of the Harlem construction boom, it was rescued from the wrecking ball of a zealous developer and relocated to a spot next to St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

And by "next to the church" I really mean next to the church. When I last saw the home this spring, prior to its being lifted 40-feet in the air, I saw how it had been turned on its side and squeezed between the church and a modern apartment building in an absurd way. Imagine a two-story, plantation-style home, turned so that one of its sides is facing the street, and scrunched between two modern structures with barely an inch of space on either side as borders. Then add a brief lawn in front that looks like a mix of weeds and embalmed sauerkraut. Get the picture?

Luckily, the yellow-and-white home will have much more room at its new spot. Tours are expected to begin again next year, according to the National Park Service.

In the meantime, visitors to New York City ought to consider taking a tour of the neighborhood of Hamilton Heights (and of nearby St. Nicholas Heights, too, whose City College campus buildings are gorgeously decorated with recently refurbished terracotta). While many tour buses drive through Harlem, a walking tour gives you a better perspective. The most historically important stop to make is Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 W. 138th St.) which welcomes lively, 1,000-person congregations every Sunday and whose previous pastors have been major players in national politics. Be sure to also stop at Make My Cake, a cake bakery that serves delicious red velvet cupcakes and other treats.

I also recommend the tour I took. For about 25 years, Joyce Gold has been leading tours in the neighborhood. She provides a deep perspective on Harlem's history. Her tours start at $15, nyctours.com.

Video of the move:

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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