Discover the Hidden Gems of Harlem: A Journey Through Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill

New York, NY – Fordham University Press is thrilled to announce the upcoming book tour for Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill: Alexander Hamilton’s Old Harlem Neighborhood Through the Centuries by acclaimed Los Angeles-based author Davida Siwisa James. This fascinating book explores the storied past of Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill in Harlem, New York City. 

James’ book chronicles the transformation of these neighborhoods from their origins as rural farmland in the 1600s to their current significance. It provides vivid accounts of how Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill have been home to notable figures such as Alexander Hamilton, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Norman Rockwell, and Thurgood Marshall, and highlights their roles in pivotal cultural movements like the Harlem Renaissance. Through detailed research and engaging prose, Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill traces the architectural evolution, social changes, and cultural milestones that have shaped these iconic areas. James captures the essence of Harlem, bringing to life the unique blend of historical events and personal stories that define these neighborhoods. 

“Although I’ve lived away from New York for many years, my heart has always remained in Harlem,” James shared. “I cherish my memories of growing up in Morningside Heights and Sugar Hill. I am excited to share my book and the incredible history I uncovered with audiences.”

Blending historical detail with personal reflections and stunning visuals, Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill offers readers an in-depth understanding of the cultural and historical importance of these New York City neighborhoods. 

Book Tour Dates

 New York City:
– Thursday, June 13th at 5:30 PM – Hamilton Grange Library
– Saturday, June 15th at 12:30 PM – Morris-Jumel Mansion
– Sunday, June 16th at 11:30 AM – Hamilton Grange National Memorial

– Wednesday, June 19th at 5:00 PM – Harriet’s Bookshop, East Girard Avenue
– Saturday, June 22nd at 1:00 PM – Barnes & Noble, Chestnut Street

For more details, please visit:

About the Author: Davida Siwisa James is a distinguished author known for her insightful works on Harlem’s rich history and culture. Her diverse portfolio includes nonfiction books, essays, poems, a play, and an award-winning short story. Her personal experiences and extensive research offer a unique perspective on the neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill. 

Praise for Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill:

“James has long wanted to write a detailed history of the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill, inspired by her childhood and teenage experiences visiting and living there (plus the renewed interest in the area, thanks to the Broadway musical Hamilton). The resulting book documents these Harlem neighborhoods in great detail. Her story of the geography, history, architecture, and cultural life of the area covers its origins as the land of the Lenape people, colonization by the Dutch and British, the construction of Alexander Hamilton’s country estate, the Harlem Renaissance, 20th-century decline and gentrification, and the present day. James describes the social connections between Harlem residents while supplying readers with context for each person she discusses, expertly capturing a sense of life in Harlem. The book includes notes and a bibliography. VERDICT: A fascinating record of the history and culture of influential neighborhoods in Harlem.”

—Amy Trendler, Library Journal

“Over the years, several books and projects have attempted to capture the essence of Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill, and thankfully, with Davida Siwisa James, the legendary community has its griot. She brings a fresh veneer, a lively descriptive narrative to this timeless section of Harlem. To be sure, the dramatic moments of the past are invoked and then lavishly alloyed with the neighborhood’s current vibrancy.”

Herb Boyd, Professor, City College of New York, author of Baldwin’s Harlem, a biography of James Baldwin

“Yes, her book is New York City history, but Davida Siwisa James’ exploration of northern Manhattan across the centuries also reveals the writer/artist in her. Strings of sentences sing so poetically. Old Hamiltonian New York and twentieth century Harlem come alive with the stories in each chapter. Davida’s multiple identities shine through the book: self-made historian, poet, and non-fiction writer. Peace be with you, Davida. We lovers of New York City thank you so much.”

Ron Howell, Associate Professor of Journalism, Brooklyn College, author of Boss of Black Brooklyn: The Life and Times of Bertram L. Baker

“Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill traces the transformation of New York’s West Harlem community from the ancestral hunting grounds of the Lanape Indians into the cultural mecca of Black America. Davida Siwisa James narratives with pictures of one of America’s most prolific neighborhoods. Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill produced American icons like the writer James Weldon Johnson, the scholar George Edmund Haynes, the boxing champ Joe Louis, and the 20th century composer George Gershwin. But beyond that, this book makes an important contribution by showing how one small American neighborhood impacted New York’s culture, politics, and arts.”     

Dr. Bruce Haynes, Professor of Sociology, University of California Davis, author of Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

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