Silicon Harlem aiming to bring tech innovation to upper Manhattan

Harlem, home of the Apollo, Sylvia’s soul food and decades of African-American cultural history, has long been considered the “Black Mecca,” and now, one organization is attempting to help one of New York’s most famous neighborhoods chart a new course for the 21st century.

 Silicon Harlem, a for-profit social venture that got started in 2008, is pushing to make Harlem a hub of technology and innovation. A linchpin of its strategy is increased resident access to broadband via projects named Gigabit Harlem and Connect Uptown NYC, which works with broadband providers to bring state-of-the art Web infrastructure to the community.

As its name suggests, the organization’s ultimate goal is to attract the kind of high-tech activity that boosts economic and social advancement in a neighborhood that has become increasingly multi-ethnic. Amid a citywide boom in housing and property prices, central Harlem has seen a larger influx of whites and Hispanics since the year 2000, according to data from New York University’s Furman Center, which also showed neighborhood incomes and education levels on the rise.