I’ve been aware of Marcus Garvey Park for decades—it was a place to never go near, or even approach within many blocks, like 15 blocks, or more. Too dangerous. In the 1970s and 80s, Harlem’s anger hung in the air like high humidity, and its expression was a bad and dangerous thing.
Things have changed. Now, I ride to there often. It’s pastoral, tree-filled, with a rocky peak and has in it an outdoor theater. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of impressive looking residential buildings of a mollifying warm, red-hued brick, especially beautiful in afternoon light.
Its Richard Rogers Amphitheater hosts some of the SummerStage series.
SummerStage is important and HUGE, covering all five boroughs and largely free. It might be TOO big. Check its calendar.
When it’s not music onstage at the park’s amphitheater, plays are presented by Classical Theatre of Harlem — The Bacchae, this year. They’re the other ‘Shakespeare in the Park’, the one that’s possible to get into. Well, if you join the line at the other one — the Delacorte — at 6 or 7 am, you might get tickets to that production.
Enter Marcus Garvey Park at Fifth Avenue and 124th Street. Follow the walkway southwest and you will find the amphitheater which seats 1800 people on a first come, first served basis.
First though, for a pre-show dinner, go to Sisters, kitty-corner from the northeast corner of the park which happens to be Madison Avenue and 124th Street. Call ahead, others may have the same idea.