Saturday, October 31, 2009

☞ DWELL: 252 West 139th Street Brownstone

Open House, Sunday, November 1st, from 2:00-4:00 PM. We mentioned earlier in the week that $2 million could get you a lot in Harlem and 252 West 139th Street (between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th Avenue) is a good example. Not only is this house on the landmarked Strivers Row section of Harlem, but it also is a rare corner building that has over 4,700 square feet, seven working fireplaces, loads of original details and a garage. This 32 foot wide, single family home is above 125th Street but for those with a car, it's a simple drive anywhere in Manhattan. The closest subways include the B,C and the 2,3 on 135th Street. Overall one of the best quiet neighborhoods in upper Harlem but there's not much in the amenities department. See more photos of the houses of Strivers Row in our past post: LINK

☞ SEE: The New York Marathon in Harlem

Yes indeed, this Sunday's New York Marathon winds its way through central Harlem from upper 5th Avenue (at 138th Street), running south to Mount Morris Park West (pictured) then continuing down the full course of 5th Avenue towards Central Park. Come out and cheer family, friends and fellow New Yorkers! Closest subways are the 2,3 at 125th Street to get to the route in Central Harlem. Photo by Ulysses

Friday, October 30, 2009

☞ SHOP: Harlem Flo for Halloween

We walked by Harlem Flo a couple of days ago and noticed how festive their fall display was for the holiday. For the adults out there, Halloween can be pretty chic with the right seasonal floral arrangements, so drop by the first ever designer floral boutique in Harlem. They apparently switch it up every couple of weeks so there's always something new to look at. Harlem flo is located 2292 Frederick Douglass Boulevard/8th Avenue, between 123rd and 124th Street. Tel. (212) 316-3031. The closest subway is the A,B,C,D at 125th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ WALK: The Tomb of Madame Jumel

Trinity Cemetary, on the northwest border of Harlem and Southern reaches of Washington Heights, rest some of New York's most reputable (and some not so reputable) families. Eliza Jumel could be said to be an example of the two. From her "working girl" roots, she was able to marry the most successful wine merchant in Manhattan and thus became the wealthiest woman in New York City circa 1804. Famous for being rich and more than a bit scandalous, this Evita of the early 19th century has her tomb on the same grounds as the Astor family. Read more about her interesting life and the mansion that bears her namesake: LINK. The entrance to Trinity Cemetery is at 155th Street, right before Riverside Drive with the nearest subway being the the 1 train at 157th Street or the C train at 155th Street. Read more about Trinity Cemetery in our previous post: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

☞ SEE: Day of the Dead at El Museo del Barrio

Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, starts this Friday through Monday and El Museo del Barrio has put together some special events for the kids this weekend. Often compared to Halloween, Day of the Dead is actually a Mexican celebration that respects the visiting souls of deceased loved ones (who return during this time of year). Mariachi Concerts, puppets, traditional mask constructions, food tasting, a costume parade in Central Park's Harlem Meer and more. This sounds like a must for folks with children of all ages. Call( 212) 831-7272 for details or go to the El Museo del Barrio website for the full schedule: LINK. Located at 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, the museum is right next to Central Park. Closest train is the 2,3 express at 110th Street or the 6 train at 103rd. Photo courtesy of El Museo del Barrio

☞ LISTEN: Akiko Tsuraga Quartet at Showmans

Friday and Saturday, October 30th-31st, The Akiko Tsuraga Quartet will be performing at Showmans starting from 9:30 PM. As a follow-up to our Japanese jazz post, pianist Akiko and crew will performing this weekend at the jazz establishmet that's been around since 1942. Although not as sleek as Lenox Lounge or Minton's, the black and white Showmans graphics on the building and the weekly schedule has a bit of retro kitsch to them. FREE all days except Friday and Saturdays which has a $5 cover charge. Showmans is located 375 West 125th Street between Morningside Avenue and St. Nicholas. Tel.(212) 864-8941. Nearest subways are the A,B,C,D at 125th Street. Read more about Akiko Tsuraga and the new ladies of Jazz in our previous post: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

Thursday, October 29, 2009

☞ DWELL: 207 West 131st Street in Contract

With many properties sitting on the market for most of summer and fall, 207 West 131st Street beat the odds even though the location isn't as prime as some others. The central Harlem brownstone, as we covered last spring, was on an interrupted brownstone block with views of government housing across the street. What helped it move? It probably had to do something with the fact that it was more closer to the avenue than it was mid block (so the view is a bit better), the inside had lots of original details, the property was move-in ready and the asking price started at $995k. With buyers offering 10%-20% lower these days, this building makes sense for a first time home owner. Plus, having such handsome neighbors to the side doesn't hurt either! See the interior in our past post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Stephanie Rivers at Shrine

Friday, October 30th, Stephanie Rivers performing from 8:00-9:00. Come see the self described folk-soul singer who cites influences from Billie Holiday to Aretha Franklin. There's more of the weekly schedule on the official Shrine website: LINK. 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue), between 133rd and 134th Street. Tel.(212) 690-7807. Take the 2,3 train to 135th Street.

☞ REVIVE: Harlem Brownstone Encaustic Tiles

Encaustic tiles are very rare in Harlem, and we guess most folks do not know their value or how to maintain them. We wrote about these popular 19th century tiles in the past and mentioned that we mostly have seen encaustic tiles in the more well-preserved homes of Brooklyn. To refresh the memory, encaustic tiles do not have the colors just glazed on top of the tile; instead, the color permeates through the front and back. The tiles come in many shapes and sizes that create geometric patterns such as diamonds, stars or squares. The above floor is from a brownstone near the Mount Morris Historic District. Commonly used in high traffic areas such as foyer and kitchens, encaustic tiles usually feature colors in earth tones, but bright accents are often added in the mix as can be seen in the above photo. You can't get these at the Home Depot. Read more about encaustic tiles and see how they look polished up in our past post: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

☞ SEE: Lincoln, Life-Size

The Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem will be presenting images of Abraham Lincoln called Lincoln, Life-Size on next Tuesday, November 3rd at 6:30 PM. Join authors Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, and Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. for an illustrated discussion of their new book of same name as they show Lincoln and his relationship to New York City. The above photo is from an early daguerreotype of Lincoln (from our own research), and hopefully there will be more shots like it in this exhibition. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. $12 Non-Members, $8 Seniors and Students, $6 Museum Members. *A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants. For more information please call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395. The Museum of the City of New York is at 1220 Fifth Avenue, between 103rd and 104th Street. Nearest subway is the 6 train at 103rd Street or 2,3 at 110th Street.

☞ DRINK: Harlem Vintage Wine Tasting

Harlem Vintage is the pioneer of boutique wine shops uptown and their weekly wine tastings are the social events of the new scene in South Harlem. If you have missed out in the past, come by tonight at 6:00 PM to see what it is all about. There will be another tasting on this Friday, October 30th, at 6:00 PM for those inclined to have a drink on the weekend (it's usually scheduled on Saturdays but this weekend is Halloween). Also, check out their amazing wine display when you drop by. Very bespoke! 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. Photo courtesy of Harlem Vintage.

☞ SEE: ArtHarlem's Studio Tours This Weekend

Sunday, November 1st, from 3:00-6:00 PM. If you missed out on the HOAST 2009 Harlem open studio tours, then here's your chance to catch up on the art scene that has been cultivating uptown for the past few years. The tour is on this Sunday, meeting at 1950 Third Avenue (107th Street building entrance) and will cover the artist studios of Diana Diriwaechter, Leah Keller, Erik Sommer (above painting). The tour continues around the corner at 176 East 106th Street (between Lexington & 3rd Avenue). Artist studios include those of Ellen Hackl Fagan,TAFA and Julio Valdez. Nearest train is the 6 train at the 103rd or 110th street stop. RSVP :

☞ SHOP: Ricky's for Halloween

Ricky's, the quirky, downtown purveyor of beauty products has been slow to catch popularity uptown but Halloween might change the game a bit this fall. Not only does Ricky provides hair and cosmetic products that are different from the basic drugstore brands, the entire chain of shops sets up a Halloween emporium every October for those in the need for a costume. The first store opened up on Columbia's main strip at Broadway, between 113th and 114th Street and most recently, a Ricky's pop-up Halloween shop has appeared on 125th Street (on the north side of the street, close to FDB/8th Avenue). It's not our thing to dress up but for those in the need, here's the place to be. Ricky's in Morningside Heights is located at 2906 Broadway and the nearest subway is the 1 train at 110th Street. The A,B,C,D at 125th Street is the nearest one for the Ricky's Halloween Shop on 125th. Photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Green Apple BBQ

Today's New York Times covers the East Harlem BBQ spot that mixes traditional southern food with mexican flavors. Green Apple BBQ is quietly tucked away on 362 East 112th Street, a couple of buildings before First Avenue. We haven't tried it yet but the combination of the two cultures sound like one not to miss out on. Read more in today's NY Times: LINK. Photo by Nan Melville for the NY Times.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

☞ ARCHITECTURE: The Silk Ribbon Mill

A designated West Harlem Landmark since 1993, the Joseph Loth and Company Silk Ribbon Mill is a 19th century testament to design and function. The Fair and Square brand silk ribbons was manufactured here starting from 1875 when the building was completed. The handsome brick facade, tall windows and unusual K shaped layout of the building had the stamp of it's owner name customized in detail at the top cornice of the building. If only today's factories or industrial mills could blend into the neighborhood so well. Currently the space has store fronts on the street level and the upper lofts have commercial tenants. The Silk Ribbon Mill is located at 1828 Amsterdam Avenue between 150th and 151st Street. The nearest Subway is the 1 train at 145th or 157th Street. Photos by Ulysses

☞ SEE: Visible/Invisible: Naked City

Thursday, October 29th, 7:30 at the Gatehouse Theater. Harlem Stage joins forces with two revered choreographers – Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Nora Chipaumire—for Naked City, the first section of a major new project of the artists, visible/invisible, that will span ten years and travel the country creating in-depth residencies and performances in urban communities. Urban Bush Women, the extraordinary dance company founded by Zollar and featuring Chipaumire, will appear in this powerful, new dance work. The evening will include a dialogue between artists and audience and a reception. Purchase the $15 tickets at the Harlem Stage website: LINK. The Gatehouse Theater is at 150 Convent Avenue at West 135th Street. Tel: 212.281.9240. Take the 1 train to 137th Street. Read more about the Gatehouse Theater's history in our original posts: LINK. Photo courtesy of Harlem Stage.

☞ SLEEP: Aloft Hotel at the Top

When we checked in on the Aloft Hotel about six weeks ago, construction was at a good pace but now it seems the April 2010 opening date might be a reality. When we last posted on this sister chain of the luxury W Hotel, located on FDB/8th Avenue and 124th Street, it was only about five floors high in the beginning of September. Now, almost at twelve floors, it is basically at the point of capping off. The lower photo is of the carriage house dwellings that now is incorporated into the design of the building. Did they sell their air rights? Read more and see various stages of the construction in our previous post: LINK. Photos by Ulysses

☞ WALK: The Heritage Rose District

As mentioned last weekend, the Heritage Rose District had its groundbreaking and the rose bush planting will proceed in the next six months. As different regions of the the nation are know for their agricultural specialty, West Harlem and south Washington Heights might be known one day for flowering rose bushes in all the public gardens and parks. As the above map lays out (red squares), the fall planting will start mostly around at the northern section of the district with key planting at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Audubon Terrace, Trinity Cemetery and a some planting further south along the malls of Broadway and City College. The second phase will focus more on planting in the district's south central locations, primarily along St. Nicholas Park and Hamiltion Grange. By the time summer roles around in 2010, we might just have to remind folks to stop and smell the roses when they come up to West Harlem. Click on map to enlarge. Graphics courtesy of the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. Special thanks to Manhattan Urban Planner, Paimaan Lodhi for keeping us informed. See our previous post on this Heritage Rose Distict: LINK

Monday, October 26, 2009

☞ SEE: Precious

There's a huge buzz on the movie Precious, which will debut next Friday, November 6th at Harlem's Magic Theater. Many are concerned that the story is exploitative, but the film is undeniably important to watch. Strong performances to look out for include newcomer Gabourey Sidibe as the lead role, Mo'Nique as her abusive mother and an almost unrecognizable Mariah Carey as a social worker. Read more about it in last week's NY Times article: LINK.

☞ DWELL: 260 West 121st Street Brownstone

The brownstone at 260 West 121st Street has great bones and a lot of original detail, but the entire building has seen better days. First, the good news is that all the electrical, plumbing and roof are have been updated in the past few years, so there's nothing too major in that department. There's also a huge amount of original detail, but most of it has been painted over by layers of high-gloss paint. The tricky thing about the house is the various, chopped-up apartments in the building that are in really shabby shape. The exterior, although gorgeous in its aesthetic appeal (look at the arced cornice), needs a really good paint job to restore it. Another issue to watch for is the empty lot next door, which can be bought for a hefty price if you buy the house. If the lot is not bought, then who knows what will be built next door? All said and done, the asking price is $1.3 million for the house, and the deal with the side lot included will cost $2 million. Two million can get one a lot of house in Harlem with less work, so it's looking like a big stretch for this one. The closest train to this South Harlem house is the A,B,C,D on 125th Street or the B,C on 116th Street.

☞ REMEMBER: 116th and Lenox Circa 1893

Before the various cycles of development started in Harlem, there was always a beginning. The above photo shows 116th Street by Lenox Avenue around 1893. Yes, those are cows standing around an open watering hole. The middle class apartment buildings can be seen encroaching on the once pastoral setting. The farmer was probably one of the last ones to sell out. Click on photo to enlarge. It's highly possible that the Harlem luxury condo development called the Kalahari sits on the exact site of the 1893 farm (second photo). The last photo is a building in the area that was the location of the original N Boutique, which may or may not be the same pediment cornice in the original photo. There's quite a bit of new construction at this juncture of Lenox, so many of the original buildings are long gone. The church to the left is definitely nowhere in sight. Top image courtesy of NYPL. Lower photos by Ulysses. The 2,3 train takes one to this area today that is just outside the Mount Morris Historic District.

☞ WALK: The Lenox Avenue Boutique Shops

Historic Mount Morris Park's Malcolm X/Lenox Avenue is turning into Harlem's boutique row. If you have been under a rock and have not noticed what is arguably Harlem's most picturesque main street, come walk by to see it for yourself. Settepani was one of the pioneers on the strip alongside the restaurant Native (top two photos). Then Il Caffe Latte came along and, most recently, the Katrina Parris floral boutique next door (fourth photo down). As of last month, the Harlem Yoga studio opened up on the corner. The last two shots are that of the new location of N Boutique, which will provide the most extensive designer collections to be found above 110th Street, and then there's One Bar that is slated also to open soon. As mentioned in the previous post, Tonnie's Minis has the lines forming for their cupcakes a block further up the street. All this is happening from 124th Street to 118th Street, and there are still many charming, brownstone store fronts available for rent. The nearest subway is the 2,3 express on 116th and 125th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ READ: 31 Dates in 31 Days

The NY Post story on Harlem resident Tamara Duricka might give the rest of those single New Yorkers a bit of hope in the dating scene. Ms. Duricka, finding herself 30 years old at the beginning of this year, decided to approach meeting guys by speed dating and the "31 Dates in 31 Days" blog was born. She recorded all of her platonic-style dates this past January, and readers got to vote on who was eligible for a second Valentine's day date. Gentleman caller Evan Johnson was the bachelor selected, and he ended up proposing to her when they were on vacation a few months later. Photo courtesy of the New York Post. Read more in the NY Post article: LINK

Sunday, October 25, 2009

☞ EAT: Tonnie's Minis Cupcakes

Today's sunny weather brought out the crowds at Harlem's own cupcake bakery. We reported on this newcomer a couple of weeks ago, and the shop quickly opened to become an instant hit. All the cupcakes are baked on site at Tonnie's Minis and new batches are pulled out of the oven in front of your eyes. When orders are made, the cupcakes are hand-frosted as you wait! There are three different sizes to choose from for whatever fits your mood at the time being. The super cute mini shots are sold by the dozen while the medium and large sizes are sold individually. The second photo is that of our red velvet cupcakes in our take-away bag. Yeah, they were good! See our previous post on Harlem's newest bakery: LINK. Tonnie's Minis is located at 264 Lenox Avenue, between 123rd and 124th Street. The nearest subway stop is the 2,3 train at 125th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

☞ INTRODUCING: The Heritage Rose District

The first-ever designated Heritage Rose District in the nation had its groundbreaking on the northern borders of Harlem today. Starting this month and going into spring, West Harlem parks along Broadway, between 130th and 162nd Streets, will have over 100 rose bushes of various types planted so that the area will eventually be known for its abundance of beautiful blooms. Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer (middle photo) was on hand to plant the inaugural bush at Trinity Cemetery along with a crowd of community leaders and press. Even Manhattanville historian Eric K. Washington (last photo) dropped by to capture the moment and mingle with the crowd that braved the rain for this momentous event. Look out for future posts with details of the gardens' plots to be planted in the near future.

☞ WALK: Trinity Cemetery Cast Iron Gates

As we headed towards Trinity Cemetery today for a public event, we couldn't help but noticed the amazing iron work and stone that surrounded this landmark located on the northern reaches of West Harlem. The north border of the cemetery is on West 155th Street, between Broadway and Riverside Drive, with the street sloping downward as one walks westward. The misty weather just intensified the fall greens and yellows, providing a striking contrast to the dark cast iron gates. If your are like us, we just marvel at the all the hand crafted carvings on the stone gate post, the contrast marble used for the accent columns (top photo) and the overall balance between the walls and the metalwork. For those a little more superstitious on the whole cemetery thing, then maybe this is a great halloween landmark to check out. The nearest subway is the the 1 train at 157th Street or the C train at 155th Street. Trinity Cemetery is on the former estate of naturist, John James Audubon. Read more about this lost landmark in our previous post: LINK. Photos by Ulysses

Friday, October 23, 2009

☞ DWELL: 613 West 138th Street Brownstone

Open House, Sunday, October 25th, from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM. We had just posted on a house on the same block of 138th Street this week that was pulled off the market but now it seems its neighbor wants double the asking price at $1.3 million. That's quite a big jump but this building is a true brownstone, with four floors instead of a carriage house set up. No. 613 is also more mid-block in location and has some distance from the underpass down west. Interiors have minimal original details so let's see where this one lands. The nearest transportation is the 1 train at 137th Street and Broadway which is only a block away. Getting to midtown is about twenty minutes from this location if you transfer to the express at 96th Street. Photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Crepes on Columbus

While Central Harlem waits for the opening of Oui, Oui, Crepes and Pizza, those folks further south can get their fix of the French specialty at Crepes on Columbus between 108th and 109th Street. The interior is pretty sparse but crepe fans rave about the selection of savory and sweet crepes that this eatery offers. Sweet crepes include the classic Nutella along with choices of caramel, ice cream, strawberries and sweet jams. Savory crepes are made of buckwheat flour with combinations such as bacon and avacodo or goat cheese with caramelized onion to name a few. Check out the menu on their website: LINK. Crepes on Columbus is located at 990 Columbus Ave, between 108th Street and 109th Street. Tel.(212) 222-0259. Nearest subways are the 1, or B,C trains at 110th Street. Photo by Ulysses

Thursday, October 22, 2009

☞ LISTEN: Jazz's New Japanese Voice

Are the Japanese ladies taking over the Harlem Jazz scene? Asako Takasaki (top photo) was discovered jamming at St. Nick's Pub and will be performing at Shrine this Friday, Akiko Tsuraga (second photo) plays the ivories at Showman's this month, Kay Mori (third photo) performs at St. Nick's every Tuesday and Sugar Hill resident Nabuko Kiryu (last photo) just recently wrapped up a performance at Showman's. What most Americans do not know is that jazz is a highly admired art form in Japan and many Japanese students study it fervently with many dreaming of making their way to New York. Stay tuned for updates to catch some of this new international talent when they perform locally.