By Edric Robinson Manhattan
NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton is celebrating 20 years in Harlem. That’s how long he’s been working on West 125th Street after moving the Clinton Foundation’s offices there in 2001.
- After his presidency ended in 2001, Clinton decided to house the Clinton Foundation in Harlem
- The foundation partially moved to Lower Manhattan in 2011 but maintains space and the president’s office in the same Harlem W. 125th Street building
- For Clinton, Harlem symbolized the economic efforts he had made to Americans who were left out when he became president
- According to the Harlem Business Alliance, some entrepreneurs can no longer afford storefronts and residential rents have gone up, but Clinton may be just one component of gentrification
- The foundation partially moved to Lower Manhattan in 2011 but maintains space and the president’s office in the same Harlem building.
“When I’d fly back home and stop in New York, I’d always take a cab from Kennedy Airport and come right to Harlem to walk across 125th Street just to see what was going on,” Clinton said.
Clinton said his love of Harlem started in his early 20s when he was studying jazz.
”I’d look at the old Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club and all those places and wondered if I could’ve made it if I was a better musician,” Clinton recalled. “I’d say it always had a hold on me.”
After his presidency ended and controversy stopped an original move to Midtown, he decided to house the Clinton Foundation in Harlem 20 years ago, in part because it felt right.
“Harlem symbolized the economic efforts I had made to include Americans that were left out when I became president,” Clinton said.
More than a thousand people welcomed him to the neighborhood, with a celebration.