Thursday, November 27, 2014


Archival sketches from 1874 shows a Thanksgiving celebration at the Colored Orphan Asylum within the institution's new Harlem location in what is today's Hamilton Heights.  Originally founded by charitable Quakers, the organization would eventually be headed up by one of the first African American doctors in the 19th century but became more famous in history because of the Draft Riots of 1863.  President Lincoln had just past the draft law which greatly affected the poorer residents of the city and a white mob burned down the orphanage located then at Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street.  Luckily the 233 or so children were saved from the incident but the orphanage was also now in a position in which it needed a new home.

At this point in time Harlem would have been the clear choice even though it was a rural area of Manhattan sparsely populated by small villages and country estates.  Downtown's congested corridors would have had higher cost because of the more central location and quite a few asylums would eventually move uptown.

So five years after the notorious riots happened further down on the island, the Colored Orphan Asylum moved into their new home at what is today 143rd Street between Amsterdam and Broadway and would remain there until 1907 when a move to the Bronx appeared to be more viable.  The area of the asylum's land would then be transformed into the city blocks that everyone knows today.  From what we can gather, the sprawling estate would have basically been at what is now Hamilton Place within the block this popular new tavern is located on: LINK

Photos courtesy the digital collection at NYPL

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Sunday, November 30th, Sugar Hill Market x La Maison d'Art, within the brownstone garden gallery and parlour floor at 259 West 132nd Street just east of FDB/8th Avenue from 11:00AM-6:00PM.  We have been curating Sugar Hill Market since the beginning of the year and in the process have come up with a local scene of great ceramic artists.  The founder of Kuzeh pottery who specializes in bold but modern ethnic patterns from the middle east approached us first and then had fellow potter Tina Chiu join the team which eventually was featured in a New York magazine article about uptown's clay collective.  Sometimes over the summer, Jonathan Castro found the SHM page via Instagram and joined on after having spent the past 5 years going to artist markets in Brooklyn to sell his goods.  These trips usually took an hour on the train with the collection in tow so having a forum to connect with local Harlem customers was a very auspicious event indeed.

With that all said,  the team here has an expansive line of unique goods each made by the artists' own hands and are really quite a good idea for gift giving.  The holiday market starts this Sunday and is a great alternative to going to all those mainstream corporate companies so please do drop by!

Follow Sugar Hill Market on Instagram to get immediate updates on this and other upcoming events: LINK


Finding a cheap townhouse (even a shell) listed for under $1 million in Harlem at the end of 2014 is a challenge.  There are basically two options thrifty buyers can look at but they both have points that might not be agreeable to those seeking a new home. 

Number 2289 7th Avenue:  This 2-family home going for $999K is located at a commercial corner just below 135th Street and close to St. Nicholas Park, subway lines and finally some better restaurant options.  Everything seems to have been renovated at some point the past decade but a real eye for design will be needed to make the interior more charming.  On the downside, the brownstone is only just about 13-foot-wide and has a rent stabilized tenant on the top floor: LINK

Number 217 West 131st Street: A 4-family home that has been renovated recently going for $990K might appear to be a great price point but the location is the deal breaker to some here.  This is one of the side streets facing the housing projects which tend to bring down property values and thus the low price on the market.  With that said, this could be an ideal situation for investors: LINK


New York YIMBY published what the original plans to preserve the Renaissance Ballroom recently and they were quite spectacular.   As most folks know, the Renny on 7th Avenue at 138th Street was one of the first buildings actually built by African Americans in Harlem during the Renaissance years and has hosted a plethora of important cultural events.  The ambitious previous designs would have highlighted the history in a grand way but a new plan for demolition only invites more mundane new construction to the neighborhood and banishes this important historic landmark.  When developers say a building can not be saved, this we have learned is probably more about money than structural integrity.  Check out other old renderings for the Renaissance Ballroom in YIMBY: LINK


Send any tips and especially photos over our way if you have stories on your section of Harlem: