Perhaps one of the most misjudged areas of the United States is New York's Harlem.
The area was once a hot-bed of crime. In the 1960s, it had a sky-rocketing drug addiction rate, and a murder rate six times higher than New York's average.
Despite huge changes in the area over the past 50 years, the dangerous reputation has lingered and was certainly the expectation drilled into me and my partner when we planned a three-day visit there.
However, the reality was quite different.
We booked into the new Aloft Hotel, determined to have a good place to stay in case the city's nay-sayers were right and we had to spend the holiday tucked away behind the safety of locked doors.
The hotel was in a pretty historic area of Harlem, just a few blocks from the famous Apollo theatre, as well as a minute from the subway - should we have needed a quick escape.
With warnings about safety at the forefront of our minds, we were a little timid venturing out for our first dinner, but it quickly became apparent that there was no need for nerves.
The rules about sticking to main drags and well-lit areas hold true, as they should for any city at night, but stories about drug-dealers on every corner proved no more than a myth.
Determined to find out more about what led to the rumours in the first place, we jumped on Harlem Spirituals bus tour to get a guided look at the neigbourhood.
As we were taken past famous landmarks, our guide, Peggy, told us about the ups and downs of Harlem's history.
We heard that the neighborhood had been predominantly black since about 1910, when property developers struggling to sell houses opened up the area to Blacks.
However, in recent years the demographics have begun to shift, as shown in last year's census. While Blacks still make up 60 per cent of inhabitants of central Harlem, the Hispanic population has increased dramatically, and the number of European residents has also grown.
When we asked about the "dangerous city" rumours, Peggy laughed: "We started taking tour groups here in 1981. We wouldn't do that if we thought the tourists wouldn't be coming back."
She talked about how price increases in Manhattan had driven the population into the wider areas of New York, and how the crackdown on the city's crime in the 1990s had had a particular impact in Harlem.
While there was an obvious police presence, it was not the aggressive style we had been led to believe existed. Rather than heavy handedness, the interaction between law enforcers and locals we saw all seemed friendly.
Along with the Apollo, the tour took us past sights including the original Cotton Club, with a who's who history of celebrity performers, The Lennox Lounge, featured in the film American Gangster, and Minton's Playhouse, where the tradition of jam sessions begun with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.
As we went down 125th Avenue, rather than graffiti, store fronts were covered in paintings by famous Harlem street artist Franco Gaskin - also known as the Picasso of Harlem.
For dinner, we stopped at Sylvia's - a world-famous restaurant, run by the same family since 1962. It's impossible to describe the meal, except to say that I am going back. I am going back soon.
After putting away as much fried chicken, short ribs, fish, corn bread, potato salad, and banana pudding as I could fit in, a wander around and a look at the photos gave me some idea of the restaurant's celebrity clientele, including Barack Obama. I bet he's going back, too.
Along with soul food, jazz is Harlem's other essential flavour, and we got a taste of it at the Showman's club. The club is one of many that offer live jazz and late nights.
The mix of the club's relaxed atmosphere and potent cocktails, ensured a satisfying end to the evening - and that was only the tip of Harlem.
Rather than being left with memories of sirens and crime, soul food and jazz were my greatest impressions of the area, plus a lesson about not listening too much to scandal and rumour.
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