Wednesday, April 15, 2009

☞ REMEMBER: The Schinasi Brothers

After all the talk of mansions, let's not forget Harlem entrepreneur Morris Schinasi. Born Mustafa and changing his name to Morris later on, Morris Schinasi immigrated from Turkey with his brother Solomon in 1893. Having the knowledge and experience from their homeland, the two quickly started their own cigarette company downtown, in a small factory on Broad Street. Success would come quickly and, by 1907, they needed more space for the expanding business and moved to a larger factory uptown on West 120th Street in what is now South Harlem. Morris by 1909 had the now famous family mansion built on 107th street at Riverside Drive and so was in walking distance from his new factory.

Both structures still stand today but in very different states. The Schinasi Mansion is on sale for $30 million while the factory is a more humble children's academy. The two photos above show the grand decline of the building over the years. Windows have been sealed over, parapets removed along with the main shop front. The sculpture portals seem to be the only detail recognizable to this day, but the building's longevity is a pleasant surprise in itself. Take the B,C train to 116th Street and walk to 120th Street between Morningside Avenue and Manhattan Avenue.

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