East Harlem aka El Barrio or Spanish Harlem is a fabulous neighborhood. Geographically, East Harlem is the area north of 96th Street up to about 135th Street and from Fifth Avenue east to the East and Harlem Rivers. Once upon a time East Harlem was predominantly Italian. It was in effect the first Little Italy in NYC and a number of the Italian-American mafia had operations in East Harlem. Beginning in about the 1920s there was a large migration of Puerto Ricans to the neighborhood.
Puerto Ricans that live in New York City are called Nuyoricans. East Harlem is more than 50% Latino or Hispanic and the majority are Puerto Ricans followed by Mexicans and a number of other South and Central Americans. There's amazing street art and authentic cuisine and it's a great neighborhood for street photography. Oh the people are very friendly as well. The Main Street in East Harlem is 116th Street with many little independent shops and street vendors.
People who were born or lived in East Harlem include Al Pacino, Tupac Shakur, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, Bobby Darin, Fiorello Laguardia (the airport is named after him), Burt Lancaster, Alice Neel, Ronnie Spector and many more.
Things to do when in East Harlem:
El Museo del Barrio - Fifth Avenue at 105th
StreetConservatory Garden - Central Park at 105th Street
Museum of the City of New York - Fifth Avenue at 104th Street