HARLEM — The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade used to start at 145th Street and Convent Avenue in Harlem before winding it's way six miles downtown to Herald Square.
On Saturday, a walking tour will retrace a portion of the route and teach participants about the culture, music and architecture of Hamilton Heights as part of the Harlem Cultural Tourism Collaborative's Holidays in Harlem initiative.
"We want to link people with the history of Hamilton Heights while giving visitors an opportunity to learn about the neighborhood and allowing local residents to reconnect," said Yuien Chin, executive director of Harlem One Stop, a member of the collaborative.
Saturday's event will also feature a gospel choir at Convent Avenue Baptist Church just off 145th Street, a holiday market and Coquito tasting at SoHarlem Creative Outlet at Amsterdam Avenue and 127th Street and a jazz concert by Marjorie Elliot and Friends, known for hosting jazz concerts in her Sugar Hill home, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Convent Avenue and 141st St featuring the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.
The event is part of a larger effort to help make West Harlem a cultural tourism destination. To do that, the group wants to move beyond the beautiful old limestones and town houses from the early 1900s that the area is known for.
"Tourists tend to see Harlem one way," said architectural historian John Reddick who will be leading the walking tour. "We want people to rediscover the neighborhood."
A grant from the West Harlem Development Corporation is helping to fund the project.
Even with his intimate knowledge of Harlem history Reddick says he was surprised to find out that the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade's starting point was formerly in West Harlem.
"This neighborhood has the height and the vistas. In some spots you can look all the way to Yankee Stadium. There's a diversity of food and culture. There's great rewards in the architecture, food and topography," said Reddick.
Another set of walking tours and concerts is set for Dec. 22. Visit Harlem One Stop's web site for the full event listing.