Walking Harlem

This is the post excerpt.

Taborn combines a scholarly musical-anthropology background; a jazz musician sensibility and 40 years of living in the Harlem community to create a book and tours like none other!

I was honored to participate in the Washtenaw Community College Woman’s History Month program honoring Black Women! March 24, 2023, 7-9pm (Eastern U.S. time).

The program is up on YouTube here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRovUdbNoMU&t=9s. I come in at about 17:14 min. Check out the evening’s presentation!! And let me know what you think ❤

My Barnard College STEAM Tour on 10/15/2022 was simply the best! This was a group organized by Barnard College of New York Public school teachers K-12! It was truly an honor to lead this group

** My tour of Harlem for City College (CCNY) science and medical students was fun this past Sunday (6/19/2022) see photos on Twitter here, https://twitter.com/CCNYB3REU/status/1538700503361667074?s=20&t=ljgT5l82qdZUd_sR_SOHxA


Select here for New York Times article:

Support a local women, Black owned bookstore! Pick up a signed copy of Walking Harlem at Harlem bookstore, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, shipped widely upon request! Email info@sistersuptownbookstore.com and request a signed copy of Walking Harlem. Sisters ships books via U.S. postal service upon request!

Recent Events

In front the former Maya Angelou home, Mount Morris Park-Harlem
Karen in front of the former Pod & Jerry’s speakeasy

Scott Joplin plague from a recent private tour I gave in Harlem, NY (fall 2021)

Harlem Tour July 17, 2021. Organized on Meetup.com

Having after-tour ice cream!


Karen Taborn was interviewed for the Place / Love Project in Feb 2021! Read the interview here:


More praise for Walking Harlem! Karen Chadwick writes:

“Walking Harlem is such a perfect gift to give. My happy experience when I first spent time with it – oh, I’ll just look at intro and then on to other tasks this afternoon – – well, four hours later, The End! It was a fine way to take a vacation right in my living room! The maps, the photos, the stories, all easy to grasp, all tell pieces of lively creative lives, and who could have imagined that a Black Puerto Rican fellow would amass a great treasure trove of American Black history?! Cool on top of cool!” Karen Chadwick of Kalamazoo, Mi (2020)


JUNE 13, 2020, 2PM-3PM! ZOOM WEBINAR WITH KAREN TABORN IN COLLABORATION WITH SISTERS UPTOWN BOOKSTORE AND CLOTH (Community League of the Heights). June 13th, 2pm. The first 5 people to log on will receive a free copy of Walking Harlem. Also, there will be a raffle for other items! Support Harlem and Uptown Manhattan businesses! Support Black owned businesses at this crucial time of Covid19 and awareness of racial injustice! Sisters Uptown Bookstore has been a Harlem based, woman and family owned business for 20 years! Visit their website and consider purchasing your books and gifts from Sisters! http://www.sistersuptownbookstore.com;/https://www.cloth159.org/


September 22, 2019 I visited the Rutgers University Press booth and shared Walking Harlem at the fabulous Brooklyn Book Fair!


Saturday September 28, 2019 I had a pop up shop selling and signing my book and launching my new teeshirt line! At Nilu Gift shop at 191 Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave.) Harlem! 11am to 3pm. https://shopnilu.com/


Sunday September 29, 2019 I signed and sold books at the Kennedy Center in Harlem, 34 W. 134th Street. Visit these websites for further information about the Kennedy Center, http://chscc.org/kennedy-center/ and http://chscc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/AUGUST-2019-FLYERS-KEN.pdf. Thanks to Onita Estes-Hicks for organizing.


July 20th, Saturday. I sold books at the National Writers Union (NWU) at the Harlem Book fair. This year was on 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (the plaza at the State office bldg). All day!


July 27, Saturday. I led a tour of Central Harlem! The tour was open to the general public.


On July 18, 2019 I was invited to the opening reception for Harlem Week 2019 at Gracie Mansion (the mayor’s residence) where a fabulous time was had by all!


My Walking Harlem presentation at the Riverside Church Book Club, May 11,2019

Photos courtesy of Gordon Balkcom


FULL HOUSE! January 9th, 2019, 6:30-7:30 pm. —  The Midtown Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library presents “Two Authors in Conversation: Herb Boyd and Karen Taborn” Go to the link for the event here: https://www.nypl.org/events/author-talks Books will be on hand for purchase (cash only) and signing!


Read Karen’s interview with the Gotham Center (City University of New York online magazine) from January 2019. In this interview I provide background on myself and the development of my book. here: https://www.gothamcenter.org/blog/walking-harlem-an-interview-with-karen-taborn#comments


December 18th, 6-9pm — Book signing at the i, too collective (Langston Hughes House)



December 29th, 1-5pm — Sister’s Uptown Bookstore first annual Kwanzaa celebration! I’ll be giving a Kwanzaa inspired music presentation among a full afternoon of other festivities. Books will be on hand for sale and signing! 1942 Amsterdam Ave between 156-157th Streets.


We had a full house of 250 people attend our May 19th book launch event in the lobby of the Schomburg Library and about 60 people joined us for a walking tour of the neighborhood!

Read about Walking Harlem in Harlem World Magazine’s March 8, 2018 online edition here!

Image 1 - COVER.jpg

Harlem, 1943 (photographer, Roger Smith)



Walking Harlem is available for purchase now! Purchase it at the Rutgers University Press website here: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/walking-harlem/9780813594576. You may also purchase the book on Amazon.com

  • Harlem and NYC Bookstores that carry Walking Harlem include the bookstores at
  • Sisters Uptown Bookstore in Harlem (suggested site for purchases), Email info@sistersuptownbookstore.com and request a signed copy of Walking Harlem. Sisters ships books via U.S. postal service upon request!
  • The Schomburg Center for Social Research
  • Amazon.com carries Walking Harlem
  • The Museum of the City of New York gift shop
  • Barnes & Nobles
  • Riverside Church
  • Strands Bookstore near Union Square (main floor on the New York table)


Walking Harlem traces the musical, literary, visual arts, dance and socio-political developments in Harlem from c. 1919 to the present with a focus on the 1920s-1930s Harlem Renaissance. The book draws from numerous sources including historical and out of print text, newspapers, record liner notes and film to focus on the cultural, arts and political developments of African Americans in Harlem and it links this information to five self-guided walking tours. The author’s background as an ethnomusicologist is evident in a focus on music venues that have often been overlooked in previous researches.


Karen Taborn moved to Harlem, NY in the mid-1980s and has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years. From 1991 to 1994 she served as the historical and cultural consultant for the Strivers Center Project–a landscape and cultural revitalization project in Central Harlem that culminated in the Harlem Walk of Fame on West 135th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards (Seventh and Eighth Avenues). Ms. Taborn holds two masters degrees in jazz (NYU, 1988) and ethnomusicology (Hunter Coll, 2006). She has taught Harlem history in NYC colleges and universities and given presentations on Harlem at various public and private institutions.

Visit our Facebook page by typing “Walking Harlem: The Cultural Capital Of Black America” in the FB search engine


Karen is available to give talks to your organization on a variety of subjects related to Harlem history and culture. Examples may include the following or may be tailored to your interest (contact Karen for information on ethnomusicology/music & culture talks):

  • Harlem Now! Time your tour to coincide with an activity in Harlem taking place at the Schomburg Center, a While We Are Still Here (neighborhood cultural organization), a musical evening or dinner at The Red Rooster or Sylvia’s or another venue
  • Harlem civil and human rights developments, 125th Street, civil and social rights churches, the Apollo Theatre
  • Harlem Buildings, Architectural Gems and People who lived there
  • Harlem Music, Speakeasies and Rent Parties
  • Harlem Women Artists, Musicians and Entrepreneurs
  • LBGQT in Harlem History
  • Harlem Politics, Preachers & Hustlers
  • Harlem Visual Arts & Theater Movements, Community Activism and Agency


TAKE A TOUR OF HARLEM WITH KAREN OR ONE OF HER COLLEAGUES. (Karen Taborn and Walking Harlem are registered members of the Guide Association of NYC, GANYC. All our tour guides are certified by the City of New York).

Beyond commercial tours on the market, our tours are highly educational and fun. Developed by a jazz musician/singer – ethnomusicologist (musical anthropologist), to dig deep into the connections between artistic, political and social developments in Harlem, Walking Harlem Tours will introduce you to a Harlem that will leave you better informed and satisfied. You’ll not only visit former and present artistic, literary, musical and political sites LGBQ history, but you’ll also learn about their social-cultural significance in Harlem and beyond.

Tours cover mid-Harlem (centering around 135th Street); lower Harlem (125th to 116th St); Upper Harlem (above 135th Street).

If you have a preference to tour a specific site or subject area of Harlem history let us know in advance and we will suggest the right tour for you. Tour times average 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours.

Email us for Tour Rates or to discuss a customized tour (walkingharlem53@gmail.com)

We reserve the right to cancel in extreme weather conditions or low turnout. In case of tour cancellations tour takers will be informed and fees returned within 24 hours of the scheduled tour.

Note: In the case of extreme weather we reserve the right to cancel tours. Fees paid for canceled tours will be returned within 24 hours

I led a group of happy Harlem tourists from the Barnard College Alumni Association on April 27, 2019


What is Redlining, Block Busting, Steering? Why is knowing about housing rights important and how has racial discrimination been an important aspect of housing rights, in the past and present?

This talk addresses the devastating historical significance of redlining and blockbusting … two socialized measures that seriously harm/ed Blacks’ and people of colors’ advancement to home ownership and obtaining the American dream of middle-class-status. What has been done to readdress these measures in the past and what can be done today?

Included in this talk is data from the recently published book The Making of Cleveland’s Black Suburb in the City: Lee-Seville & Lee-Harvard published by the Cleveland Restoration Society. The book includes a chapter on the presenter’s father, Albert Taborn and his formidable presence as Cleveland’s most productive, 1950s Black home builder/seller. Al Taborn built hundreds of affordable homes for first time Black home owners in the 1950s.


Email walkingharlem53@gmail.com and we will respond shortly. Indicate the following:

Sizes: Small (approx. size 10-13 women) Medium (approx. size 14-16 women)

Colors: light or medium blue

6 thoughts on “Walking Harlem”

  1. Karen has been thinking about and researching Harlem’s history for decades, and it shows. She shares that knowledge wonderfully on her tour. It almost seemed as if she knew an interesting story about every corner and every building in the neighborhood. The history of Harlem is so rich and so important, and Karen Taborn does it justice.


  2. Karen led a very educational and captivating tour. She has so much knowledge to share about Harlem and its history. It was also evident throughout the tour how much of an impact her work has already made. Thank you!


  3. Ms. Taborn led my class of 13 college students around the Schomburg and they learned a great deal about that area’s history. They were especially captivated by the Harlem Hospital murals! We are grateful to her for sharing her time and knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen, your multimedia interactive WALKING HARLEM tour presentation was chock-full of history-making Harlem & its people — and you brought both to life so completely that we Riverside Book Club folk were transported to the streets of Harlem of the past and today, all the while, sitting in our chairs! We can’t wait for your real-time walking tour! Thank you, indeed, for the gift of WALKING HARLEM!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Karen,
    I just learned from Annette about your new book, Walking Harlem, being published! Congratulations, Karen! I’m ordering a copy for me, now!
    Frank Lucatelli


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: