Wednesday, March 25, 2009
☞ ARCHITECTURE: Strivers' Row
Originally touted as the King Model Houses, these 19th century boutique buildings on 138th and 139th Streets soon became the sign of success for the emerging African-American middle class at the turn of the century. Developer David King hired prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead and White to build the matching row houses on 139th Street from 1883-1884. The firm was equivalent to today's starchitects such as Frank Gehry, and they had planned to attract wealthy, white new money uptown (developers never change). What did happen was a collapse in the real estate market so the houses sat empty for years. Finally, in the early 20th century, the neighborhood changed in demographics and the houses sold to up-and-coming African-American "strivers," who finally made the American dream by owning these luxury houses with their own carriage yards and private gardens. Strivers' Row is in Central Harlem with Hamilton Heights bordering it on the northwest side. 138th and 139th Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevard).