Sunday, February 28, 2010

☞ SEE: Up With Me at the Maysles Cinema

Monday, March 1st, starting 7:00 PM at the Maysles Cinema. Up With Me, directed by Greg Takoudes. After winning a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, Francisco must struggle to maintain his relationships with his girlfriend, Erika, who fears he will no longer be the boy from El Barrio she loves, and best friend Brandon, who acts out in increasingly serious ways to force Francisco back home.

A poignant tale of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, Up With Me was created as a collaboration between the film’s director and teenagers from the East Harlem Tutorial Program. The screenplay is based on months-long writing workshops with the teenagers, who then starred in the movie, and helped crew the set. This feature film which was inspired by their own life stories, was shot in the streets where they hang out and in the apartments where they live.

Panel with Filmmakers and Cast and Reception to follow the screening. See the full schedule on the Maysles Institute's website: LINK. Suggested admission $10.00 with limited seating. Come early. 343 Malcolm X Blvd/Lenox Avenue bet. 127th and 128th Streets. Tel. 212-582-6050.

☞ WALK: Grant's Tomb During Snowfall

The one park we didn't get to really go by this winter was Grant's Tomb. During last week's snowstorm, we took advantage of the day and headed far West by Riverside Drive and 122ndStreet. The snow was a couple of feet thick and hardly a soul was in sight. There's a lot of slush now but the moments right after the storm are some of the most beautiful to behold. Read more about the historic site that was more popular than the Statue of Liberty when it first debuted a century ago: LINK. The closest subway to this location is the 1 train at 125th Street.

☞ INTRODUCING: Best Yet Market Grand Opening

Ribbon cutting event tomorrow, Monday, March 1st starting 11:00 AM at Best Yet Market. The official Grand Opening of the new Best Yet Market in Harlem at 2187 FDB/8th Avenue, between 118th Street and 119th Street has been set for Monday. Although the store has been open for over a month now, this event will be the official introduction to what has become South Harlem's favorite supermarket. Closest subways are the B,C at 116th Street. Read more about Best Yet in our previous post: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

Saturday, February 27, 2010

☞ DWELL: 140 West 130th Street Brownstone

So the shell market has gone down quite a bit and for those who want to check it out, there's an open house for 140 West 130th Street (far right building in the photo) this Sunday, February 28th from 1:00-2:00 PM. The SRO property has a certificate of non-harassment so work can start immediately. The townhouse has been on the market for a year and a half with the starting asking price at $1.1 million. Many price cuts later, the five-level, 16.75 foot wide brownstone is going for $675K. The location between ACP/7th Avenue and Lenox Avenue is on tree lined street and is probably one of the nicer, up-and-coming blocks in Central Harlem. The house next door (with pumpkins) is soap actor Cameron Mathison's former family abode which is a rental now. The closest train is the 2,3 at 125th Street and Lenox. Photo by Ulysses

Friday, February 26, 2010

☞ INTRODUCING: The Harlem Hospital Center

Anyone who has walked by upper Lenox Avenue and 136th Street has seen all the construction adjacent to the Harlem Hospital but the sketches posted on the plywood fences have been a little cryptic. We found some information on the new patient wing of the building and pulled up the sketches. The 150,000 square foot space was designed by HOK Architects and "integrates inpatient emergency room and outpatient services under one roof." Notably the design sketches has a huge glass facade with images on it and we found that this feature was a "wraparound mural" which apparently uses some high tech projector to change the images on the exterior. This $249 million development was set to finish in September 2009 but we first noticed the project picking up at that point in time. The last photo shows the site at its current state a couple of weeks back. All this comes along at a time when rumors of South Harlem's North General have begun on its possible closing: LINK. Read more about the Harlem Hospital addition here: LINK.

☞ LISTEN: Melanie JB Charles at Shrine

Saturday, February 27th, performing 8:00 PM at Shrine. Come listen to the classic jazz vocals of Melanie JB Charles who also happens to be a trained opera singer. See the international roster of music acts at Harlem's main venue for new talent at 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue), between 133rd and 134th Street. Tel.(212) 690-7807. Take the 2,3 train to 135th

☞ WALK: The Modsquad Major Taylor Windows

Modsquad Cycles between 114th and 115th Street on FDB/8th Avenue has a great display up on the African-American cyclist Major Taylor. Not being such great bike historians, we had to look up some facts on the famous athlete. Marshall "Major" Taylor was the top cyclist of his day and had his claim to fame in the 1890's as one of the most renowned cyclist in the world. Bicycles of course were a new invention at the time and cycling was a popular speed racing event that would pack arenas such as Madison Square Garden with enthusiastic spectators. Major Taylor would go on to participate in competitions in Europe where he would especially be popular in France. Like most of his African-American contemporaries at the time, the Black Cyclone would find fame and fortune in the world but would return to a very segregated homeland. At the age of 31, he retired because of his weariness from the battle against racism within the sport. Check out the windows at Modsquad and inquire on their special promotions for the month. Modsquad is located at 2119 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Tel. (212) 865-5050. Take the B,C to 116th Street.

☞ READ: More Harlem Red Rooster Details

New York Magazine caught up with Marcus Samuelsson at an event this week and got a few more details on what his new Harlem restaurant will serve. The Red Rooster will mix all the classic ethnic cuisines of Harlem and will showcase live music in a basement space. The focus will be southern, Italian and Jewish cooking which represent some of the founding ethnic groups of Harlem. Read more about the celebrity chef's new Harlem eatery in the NY Magazine food site: LINK

☞ SHOP: Harlem Restaurant Week Boutiques

The local Harlem Restaurant and Retail Week not only offers prix fix restaurant menus but also includes exclusively priced items at some of the key fashion shops uptown. The special price of $20.10 will be discounted on all new arrivals at N Boutique by the Mount Morris Park Historic District. The designer shop also has a signature line of scented soy candles, oils and lotions for $20.10 as part of the month long promotion. See our previous post on N Harlem and the boutique culture of Harlem: LINK. Check out the full list of restaurnts and retailers that will be participating in restaurant week for the next couple of weeks here: LINK

Thursday, February 25, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The West 125th Street YMCA

After trying to figure out what was recently located on the lot of 5-15 West 125th Street, we came up with this archival photo showing the original Harlem YMCA building. The distinct four story building with the bay window at the center was established as the Y branch in 1880 and would be the uptown headquarters until 1929. The top photo was taken a year before the branch was shut down and would eventually be replaced by the iconic YMCA on 135th Street. The low building to the far right is where the new Applebee's (at the corner of 5th Avenue) is today and the building to the far right houses the restaurant Mobay. Does anyone know if any of the brownstones or the YMCA building at this section of 125th Street survived past the 1940's? There's been that open lot there for as long as we can remember. Archival photo courtesy of NYPL.

☞ DWELL: 265 West 131st Street Brownstone

Since we have been looking at the shell market in Harlem this week, we decided to check back at 265 West 131st Street which will be going into its third year on the market. The story starts back at the end of 2005 when a buyer purchases the property for $650K (from the asking of $750K) and then proceeds to place it on the market soon after. Six months after the original purchase, the building exchanges hands for $950K in May of 2006 at the height of the market. After not much of anything going on the land for a couple of years, the property appears again in February 2008 for $1.1 million which, after sitting on the market over a year, was reduced to $489K in July 2009. By September of last year, the price went down to $449K and finally to $399K in December. The building is literally just the facade standing on an empty lot so a real experienced developer would have to have taken this project on to make this happen. Even with the grand scope that the renovations would entail, the Central Harlem location that sits in front of a major housing project might have been the one thing that steered future investors from the property. As of mid February, the house has been removed from the market. The nearest train to this location between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th Avenue is the B,C at 135th Street. Check out the building that did sell on this block recently: LINK. Photo by Ullyses.

☞ ARCHITECTURE: The Nicholas Benziger House

The Bailey Mansion might be the flashiest free standing mansion on Sugar Hill but the more modest neighbor just around the corner is also a standout of its own. The Benziger House at 345 Edgecombe Avenue was the built on a bluff overlooking untouched country sides and the Harlem River in 1890 and still looks today as it did over a century ago. The property was the country estate of Nicholas Benzinger who was a prominent publisher of religious books and articles of the time. Designed by German architect William Schickel, the Benziger House has a distinct clay-tiled mansard roof, striking dormers and vibrant yellow brickwork. The property was made an official New York City landmark back in 1999 and was restored by the non-profit organization Broadway Housing Development Fund which now uses it as permanent housing for the formerly homeless. The Benziger House is located close to the corner of Edgcombe and 150th Street with the closest subways at the A,B,C,D at 145th. Photos by Ulysess

☞ INTRODUCING: Inn or Office on West 125th?

A reader and adept researcher got us the scoop on what's been planned for the that big lot on 5-15 West 125th Street, between Lenox and 5th Avenue. Apparently Reisman Property Interests was developing a 252 room luxury building called the Uptown Grand Hotel when the market was on a high note. Based on an old report sheet, the latest information would suggest that the current financial situation has stalled the site and a cheaper Hilton Garden Inn has been planned with more affordable rooms and a reduced number of 144 total units. All might seem like its clear and good to go but then there's a sketch of proposed office spaces from Curtis + Ginsberg Architects (second image) that has been floating around. This adds another layer of mystery to what is actually going to happen to the very large parcel of land that's been sitting empty for longer than we can remember (DOB records show whatever existed there was demolished in 2004). Check out the full site here: LINK. Top photo by Ulysses

☞ WALK: Date Set for Mount Morris House Tour

The folks at the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association has set up the date for the 2010 house tour. Members of MMPCIA have been invited to start making plans on the annual tour of historic home which is set for Sunday, June 13th from 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM. Mark you calendars ahead of time to get a chance to see some of the greatest homes in Manhattan. For those who are in the neighborhood and want to participate, two meetings have been set up. Today, Thursday, February 26th from 6:00-7:00 PM and also Saturday, March 6th From 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon. Get more information at: Photo by Ulysses.

☞ SEE: Thelma Golden in Elle Decor

The Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden makes an appearance in the March issue of Elle Decor on the newsstands now. Elle's shortlist has 12 things a featured guest can't live without and Ms. Golden lists a couple of Harlem favorites. Check out the full slide show on the Elle Decor site: LINK

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

☞ DWELL: 4 West 126th Street Brownstone

The property on 4 West 126th Street might be on an apparently quite brownstone block but unfortunately, it is also next to the one of the biggest demolished lots in Harlem. To the right of the four story building is the lot that the new Applebee's restaurant is adjacent to. This open land extends from the 125th Street side into the 126th Street section and whatever was planned there doesn't seem to be coming along anytime soon. The house itself is basically a shell since the interior consist of exposed bricks and ceiling rafters and there aren't any windows or infrastructure installed. At asking the asking of $1.4 million, we are wondering if the brokers will get that price for a shell since homes that are fixed up are selling at that range these days. Another point is that it has been on the market for over a year so one would think that the prices would go down quite a bit to move the property.

☞ WALK: More Filming at Lenox Lounge

The famous Lenox Lounge was all wrapped up today and there were lots of camera crew and a trailer sitting around on the sidewalk at 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue. It was unclear if this was just an interior photo shoot or if they were filming. Does anyone have the inside scoop? Read more about Lenox Lounge in our past post: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Cafe Ollin Serves Up Authentic Mexican

When we first covered Cafe Ollin in East Harlem last year, we had a suspicion that it might be one of the best authentic Mexican eateries in town. Recently, the small, hole-in-the wall restaurant made it to list of top ten Mexican restaurants in the entire city. Folks rave about the cemitas which are Pueblan sandwhiches stuffed with a variety of meats, lettuce, tomatoes, chipotle, papalo, avocado and topped with oaxacan cheese. The lower photo is that of a soft taco which has the same ingredients and the real difference here is that the fresh sliced avocado replaces the guacamole and the oaxacan cheese that finishes it off. The prices are cheap, the service BYOB, the interior kitschy and the views consist of a housing project across the street so its really a mix of the most casual side of city. Cafe Ollin is at 339 East 108th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue. The closest subways are the six train at 103rd or 110th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ SEE: The Harlem Education Fair

Saturday, February 27th, 11:00 AM-2:00 PM at the 369th Armory. There's so much going on in the different types of schools in Harlem these days and we saw recently that there was going to be an Education Fair this coming weekend. This should be important for all the families old and new that are here uptown. The 369th Regiment Armory is located at 2366 Fifth Avenue, between 142nd and 143rd Street. Tel. (866) 388-4849. Get more information at The closest subway is the 3 train at 145th Street. Photo by Ulysse

☞ REVIVE: The Harlem Green Townhouse

The DWELL magazine online site had a series on a couple who are renovating a Harlem Brownstone and trying make it as green as possible... on a budget. This particular clip from the series shows the beginning of the renovation process and some of the red tape new home owners have to go through. Included also is how to save 25K on demolition cost i.e. do it yourself. See more on the site: LINK.

☞ LISTEN: Van Hunt at the Gatehouse

Saturday, February 27th, 7:30 PM at the Gatehouse. Tickets: $25. Grammy Award winning artist Van Hunt graces the stage to kick off an an unforgettable season of Uptown Nights at Harlem Stage. Van Hunt and his powerhouse band will present masterful classics from his self-titled album, Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor, his unreleased album, Popular and Use In Case of Emergency. The lyrical TreZure opens the evening with a soulful set of original songs. DJ Cosi keeps the evening spinning with opening and closing sets and moments in between. Harlem Stage is at the Gatehouse Theater in Hamilton Heights is at 150 Convent Avenue at West 135th Street. Tel: 212.281.9240. Take the 1 train to 137th Street. See more and buy tickets at the Harlem Stage site: LINK.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: 123-125 West 124th Street

There are a couple of low lying modern buildings on West 124th Street between Lenox and ACP/7th Avenue that made us wonder what was there originally. We found a couple of photos of 123-125 West 124th Street circa 1932 and found a low level brick house on the lot that the Harlem United building sits on today. A little further west, a row of brownstones can also be seen in the vintage photos on the spot were a single level row of storefront are located today (lower photo). These smaller buildings probably burned down or were demolished from neglect somewhere in the post depression years and the new buildings came along to fill in the empty lots. The closest subway to this location is the 2,3 at 125th Street. Click on photos to enlarge. Archival photos courtesy NYPL. Current photo by Ulysses

☞ DWELL: 168 West 123rd Street in Contract

When we looked at the shell at 168 West 123rd Street (far right of photo) last summer, it already had couple of price chops and was up for $795K. Originally offered in July 2008 for the price of $1.1 million, the total gut property had gone down to $995K and then to $895K about every six months. So what was the final price? In November 2009, another $100K was taken off the price and the $695K asking price seemed to have help push the property along since it entered contract last week. The property is just on the outside edge of the Mount Morris Park Historic District but is much closer to ACP/7th Avenue. There's another abandoned brownstone two doors down that doesn't seem like it really is making much progress but the plywood fences around the property might be a sign of a restoration in process. Once the deal has been finished, it will be interesting to see what a shell is currently going for in this market. The closest train to this location is the 2,3 express on 125th and Lenox. Photo by Uylsses

☞ ARCHITECTURE: Russian Holy Fathers Church

An Eastern Orthodox Church can be found just South of Trinity Cemetery at 526 West 153rd Street right off of Broadway. When we lived downtown, the sight of the domed churches in the East Village was not so uncommon but they are quite rare uptown. The Russian Holy Fathers Church looks like it belongs in a small village in the old country and sits next door to a small frame house that serves as the rectory. The dome of the church has a bit of peeling paint on it but the soft turquoise color and the pastel hues still make it a standout in a sometimes drab city. The closest trains to this location are the 1 one at 157th Street or the C at 155th. Photos by Ulysses

☞ BESPOKE: Harlem Coffered Ceilings

The wood coffered ceilings at the train station on East 125th Street really are a great example of how restoring a traditional space with classic details really compliments a historic interior. The top two photos shows the coffered ceilings with beadboard paneling that are part of the station's restoration 11 years ago. What's brilliant about having the wood paneling is that it both provides the appropriate ceiling finishing but also can hide electrical work and air conditioning ducts. After doing some research, we found a company that provides a drop ceiling version (lower photo) that might be a more affordable option for residential and commerical spaces. The standard drop ceiling that traditionally uses fluorescent tubes really make interior space cold and look like office spaces but sometimes this option is chosen to hide a lot of infrastructure. Drop tin ceilings and the handsome wood panel coffered ceiling might be the better way to go these days as more renovation projects in Harlem are striving for architectural accuracy. Check out the site for more information: LINK. Metro-North train station photos by Ulysses

☞ WALK: Dumpsters along Manhattan Avenue

Just this past week, the western borders of South Harlem has had a mini brownstone renovation boom. When walking around Brooklyn neighborhoods back in the earlier part of the decade, the familiar sight of dumpster lining every other block was quite familiar but harlem always had very sporadic restoration projects throughout the nabe. Just recently, a Wall Street Journal editor and her husband bought a property off of West 123rd Street and Manhattan Avenue and the dumpster has been filling up daily (last photo) with the demolition of some original detail to the building (we recently noticed the original window shutters being thrown out). Not too soon after, a tipster advised that 527 Manhattan Avenue which is located close to the corner of 122nd Street (top two photos) has recently been sold without any transfer of money and is going through a total gut renovation. The property probably changed hands via family and we noticed all the windows had been covered with plywood and the dumpster on the corner filling up quickly. Has anyone noticed more activity in their neighborhood? The closest subways to this location is the A,B,C,D at 125th Street. Photos by Uysses

☞ LISTEN: Andre Henry at Shrine

Tonight, Tuesday, February 23rd, starting 9:00 PM at Shrine. The open mic night at Shrine will features the R&B, electro-indie sounds of Andre Henry. Check out the newest talent in NYC at Harlem's major venue for live music. Shrine is at 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue), between 133rd and 134th Street. Tel.(212) 690-7807. Take the 2,3 train to 135th

☞ SEE: Hoofers Night at HSA

Hoofers Night, Friday, February 26th, performing at 6:00PM Friday, at The Harlem School of the Arts. The Harlem School of the Arts Join tap instructor, Joseph Webb in the HSA Gathering Space as he honors the legends of tap dance’s glorious past while opening the floor to the next generation of artists. This performance event and open floor is for tap dancers (from teens to seniors) and provides “hoofers” with a place to call their own. Suggested Donation $5. To get to the Harlem School of the Arts, take the A, B, C, D and 1 train to 145th Street, when exiting the subway, walk south on the west side of Saint Nicholas Avenue. or take the M3 bus to 141st.

Monday, February 22, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: 339 Convent Avenue

After getting our copy of The Royal Tanenbaums in the mail, we pulled out the interior insert to find a drawing of the famous Tanenbaum house on Convent Avenue. The movie has the quirky family's home listed as 111 Archer Avenue but most of the film was shot in Harlem's Hamilton Height's historic district at 339 Convent Avenue and 144th Street. We walked by to take a closer look at the home and took photos of the main entranceway that was in some of the major scenes at the end of the movie. Other Harlem scenes include Trinity Cemetery and all of the settings are beautifully filmed. We originally had a brief post on the house early last year but had not fully watched the film. After having done so, it can be safely said that anyone living in Harlem should check it out to see a very different depiction of the neighborhood that the media seldomly portrays. Read our past post on the inspiration behind the Tanenbaums and the Harlem connection: LINK. The closest subway to this location is the A,B,C,D at 145th Street. Photos by Ulysses