Saturday, February 28, 2009

☞ ARCHITECTURE: Harlem Meer


This Queen Anne wooden boat house can be found on the northeast end of Central Park. Meer is the Dutch name for lake and, as natural as everything looks, the lake is manmade over existing wetlands. The Dana Discovery Center is the newest building in the park and was constructed so it would be period-appropriate when it opened in 1993.

☞ SMELL: Harlem Flo


This Harlem florist provides a more boutique selection of flora than the usual roses and lilies found on the upper west side. Beautiful presentations and nicely styled interior provide a much needed creative synergy lacking in this particular market.
2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd between 123rd and 124th street.
tel. (212) 316-3031

☞ SHOP: Citarella


Citarella opened it's newest Manhattan branch on 125th street in a charming two level historic building. This gourmet market
has been around for 80 years and caused quite a sensation when they opened a branch in Harlem. What you will find is an impeccable seafood selection, great butcher and meat selection as well as escargot to go with the artisan bread from their bakery selection. Located at 461 west 125h street, between Amsterdam avenue and Morningside avenue. tel: (212)474-0383.

☞ WALK: Manhattanville


The viaduct area was one of the original industrial areas of northern Manhattan. What was a far off village only reachable by train became a hub for property speculation in the early 20th century. Paint manufacturing, meat packing warehouses, car manufacturing, and Manhattan's own Dairy District can all be found in this part of town. At one point in time, horse drawn carriages loaded up their carriages with milk bottled in Manhattanville to delivery to the homes in the New York City area. Places of note include Tiemann Place of which the former mayor had his family country home but was torn down by the city for luxury middle income apartments when the subway station was built. The arches of massive steel viaduct on the west side of the valley along with the 125th street elevated station have arches within their structures that was said to have been worthy of "Monsieur Eiffel".

☞ LISTEN: Lenox Lounge

Billie Holiday performed frequently at this art deco jazz lounge, opened since 1939. The iconic Art Deco space was renovated in the past decade with interiors just as captivating as its red facade.  Lenox Lounge is located at 288 Lenox Avenue at 125th street. Take the 2,3 train to the 125th Street stop. Tel. (212) 427-0253

Friday, February 27, 2009

☞ DRINK: Harlem Vintage + Nectar


Harlem's first boutique and arguably the best wine purveyors, featuring over 300 labels. These wine gurus have recently set up a sleek and modern wine bar next door called Nectar, which is also an original for FDB's social scene. Harlem Vintage is located at 2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd/8th Ave at 120th Street. Tel. (212) 866-9463. Nearest subway is the A,B,C,D at 125th Street.

☞ Architecture: Grant's Tomb


Grant's tomb on the Morningside Heights and Manhattanville border(122nd and Riverside Drive) can be considered West Harlem. This monumental building, finished in 1897, was one of the main attractions for people coming to New York city for most of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It has an almost fabled quality to its name and is that much more incredible when you come and actually see it. The area is Riverside park and one gets a feeling that you are someplace else and not in northern Manhattan. The tomb is actually open to the public and has great historical memorabilia and architecture inside. A key note is that the chief fund raiser was a Harvard trained African American which was immensely ground breaking in the 19th century.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

☞ New morning in Harlem.

This blog is sort of a connection point for the positive changes in Harlem. I have been living in West Harlem for 4 years now and have discovered the multitude of rich cultural histories that one would find on each corner of the many districts.

After enjoying the unique culture of the East Village for over a decade, it seemed very difficult to find any of the self starter sort of businesses in Harlem that one usually discovers downtown. Brooklyn was exploding and has rivaled many of Manhattan's best innovations. Harlem seemed like the sleeping giant. Although Harlem was in Manhattan, it seemed to not have the inertia that the rest of the island had been experiencing within its creative worlds and communities. Now, with diversity at hand, Harlem is experiencing an awakening of its own.

Bespoke means tailored made or custom made. The focus here will be the smaller venues and cultural facts that are custom in each great neighborhood. Therefore, let's get things going with some of the great places that have suddenly come about and has made things more rich in this boundless community!