“White Harlem” was popularized as a name for Morningside Heights by the comedian George Carlin (1937-2008) in his 1973 comedy album Occupation: Foole. “Harlem” in the name made the place sound tougher, according to Carlin, while “Morningside Heights” was more of a real estate term used to sell homes in the area.
Wikipedia: Morningside Heights
Morningside Heights is a neighborhood of the Borough of Manhattan in New York City and is chiefly known as the home of institutions such as Barnard College, Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the Riverside Church, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and St. Luke’s Hospital.
Morningside Heights is bounded by the Upper West Side to the south, Morningside Park to the east, Harlem to the north, and Riverside Park to the west. The streets that form its boundaries are 110th Street on the south, Riverside Drive on the west, 125th Street on the north, and Morningside Drive to the east. The main thoroughfare is Broadway. With the recent gentrification of Bloomingdale, the neighborhood immediately to the south of Morningside Heights, the southern boundary of this region is sometimes stretched to 106th Street and at times even 96th Street.
The neighborhood has also been referred to as the “Academic Acropolis,” the “Acropolis of New York,” “Bloomingdale Village,” and, in the words of George Carlin, “White Harlem.”
Wikipedia: George Carlin
George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008) was a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author.
Early life and career
Carlin was born in New York City, New York, the son of Mary (née Bearey), a secretary, and Patrick Carlin, a national advertising manager for the New York Sun. Carlin is of Irish descent and was raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
Carlin grew up on West 121st Street, in a neighborhood of Manhattan which he later said, in a stand-up routine, he and his friends called “White Harlem”, because that sounded a lot tougher than its real name of “Morningside Heights”. “General Grant was one of my neighbors,” he would say later.
The Mad Music Archive
By: George Carlin
Released: 1973 (Stavro288)
Author(s): George Carlin (Stavro288)
Producer: Monte Kay/Jack Lewis (Stavro288)
Released By: Little David LD 1005 (Stavro288)
Manhattan Community Board #9
Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Morningside Heights is a neighborhood of the Borough of Manhattan in New York City within the WestSide Harlem District and is chiefly known as the home of institutions such as Columbia University, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York, the Riverside Church, and St. Luke’s Hospital.
Morningside Heights is bounded by the Upper West Side to the south, Morningside Park to the east, Harlem to the north, and Riverside Park to the west. In terms of street names, the edges of the neighborhood may roughly be considered either 106th Street or 110th Street on the south, Riverside Drive on the west, 123rd Street or 125th Street on the north, and Morningside Drive on the east. The main thoroughfare is Broadway.
The neighborhood has also been referred to as the “Academic Acropolis,” the “Acropolis of New York,” “Bloomingdale Village,” “White Harlem,” or “South Harlem” (SoHa), and has also been thought of alternately as part of either Harlem or the Upper West Side neighborhoods.
Comedian George Carlin grew up on West 121st Street in Morningside Heights. In the comedy piece “White Harlem”, which appears on his Occupation: Foole album, he said that younger residents would refer to the neighborhood as “White Harlem”. This is due to the fact that “White Harlem” would likely be considered an intimidating locale by outsiders and give inhabitants thereof greater respect from outsiders, whereas conversely a young person from “Morningside Heights” would have a much great probability of being abused simply by virtue of the fact that they live in a locale called “Morningside Heights”.
Penn State Collegian (May 21, 1973)
Carlin proves incoherent, funny
By KAREN KELLEY
He told of his New York Irish-Catholic experiences growing up in Morningside Heights, which he and his friends termed “White Harlem.” “If you don’t like fighting, it’s good to be funny,” he said, referring to the “gang” period of his youth.