San Juan Hill, Manhattan

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San Juan Hill was a predominantly African American neighborhood of tenements on the Upper West Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, which was largely razed as part of urban renewal to make way for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The exact area is under some debate but its general borders were Amsterdam Avenue to the east, West End Avenue to the west, 59th Street to the south, and 65th Street to the north. It has been suggested that the area was named after the 10th Cavalry that fought with Theodore Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War but this is not certain.[citation needed] It was possibly the most heavily populated African-American neighborhood in Manhattan in the early 20th century. In 1940, the New York City Housing Authority characterized the area as "the worst slum section in the City of New York," and made plans to renew the area by demolishing the old tenements and building in its place the Amsterdam Housing Projects and Lincoln Center.[1]

In 1922, at the age of four Thelonious Monk came to live here. In addition to the significant African American community, there was also an Afro-Caribbean community there, which has left its traces in Bye-ya and Bemsha Swing compositions of Thelonious Monk, co-written much later with Denzil Best, who also grew up in this neighborhood.[2]


  1. ^ "NYCHA Collection, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives". Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Kelley, Robin D.G. (2010). Thelonious Monk : the life and times of an American original (1st Free Press trade pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1439190463. 

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Coordinates: 40°46′22″N 73°59′16.1″W / 40.77278°N 73.987806°W / 40.77278; -73.987806