Wednesday, March 31, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: 2nd Avenue and 124th Circa 1934

In 1934, the entire east side of 124th Street, from 2nd Avenue to the Harlem River, went through one of the most drastic changes that a neighborhood would ever face. These brownstone blocks and tenements were the white ethnic neighborhood of East Harlem, home to a mainly Italian and Jewish community. Since the Triborough Bridge (second photo) had been planned to connect the East Side to the Bronx, entire blocks from 124th to 126th Street were razed in the summer of that year. A block further north would house a bus depot that today sits on top of the second African Burial Ground discovered in the city. The block south would eventually be developed into public housing. Archival photo courtesy of NYPL. Current photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Settepani Opens for Dinner Service

Settepani officially opened its doors last night for dinner service as a new wine bar. The restaurant will not be serving lunch until April 17th, so don't swing by during the day because it will still be closed. In the meantime, drop by for dinner during this soft opening period and receive a complimentary glass of wine! Ristorante Settepani is located at 196 Lenox Avenue and 120th Street. The nearest subway is the 2,3 at 125th or 116th Street. Photo by Ulysses.

☞ DWELL: Tapestry to Debut in East Harlem

Tapestry is the new rental development on track for LEED Gold certification in East Harlem. The leasing office is scheduled to open April 1st with occupancy in May. Located at the corner of 124th Street and Second Avenue, Tapestry is a 12-story, 185-unit apartment building, developed in partnership by two of the city’s most important advocates for green living, Jonathan Rose Companies, LLC and Lettire Construction Corporation. Renters are offered a choice of 26 distinct floor plans and 7 kitchen layouts, all featuring expansive windows that provide exceptional natural daylight. Prices range from $1,750 for an alcove studio to $3,750 for a three bedroom.

In addition to a 3,000-square-foot landscaped terrace, Rainwater Harvesting, Forest Stewardship Council certified flooring, recycled content tiling and recyclable carpeting, etc., every single item in the model apartments has a “green” element to it, according to the developer. The leasing staff will encourage residents to purchase green furniture with their assistance, and will provide a green living guide to each tenant.

The lower photo shows what this corner of 2nd Avenue looked like a year ago, so East Harlem's renewal is slowly progressing along. Read more about this development in today's Real Deal article: LINK

☞ ARCHITECTURE: The Mt. Zion Lutheran School

One of the most distinct landmarks can be found when walking in West Harlem's Sugar Hill at 421 West 145th Street, between Convent and St. Nicholas Avenue. The Mount Zion Lutheran Church School stands tall above a row of brownstones to the east and its limestone, gothic exterior reflects sunlight as one passes by. The copper dormers at the roof line are a nicely aged mint green and all the lovely stained glass windows are still in perfect condition. The west wall of the church is notable for its additional details since unlike many other semi detached buildings that have solid side walls, one will find a perfect line of windows integrated into this part of the facade. A prominent sign out front touts "the school on the hill" for grades 1-6 so the building doubles as an educational institution if all information is current. The closest train to this location is the A,B,C,D at 145th Street. Photo by Ulysses

☞ WALK: What's Going on at Charlie's?

Charlie's Place, the take out fast-food sushi joint at Madison and 126th has had some plywood up on the north side of the avenue for a handful of months and it doesn't seem like much has happened since. Based on the DOB paperwork filed last October, a store addition estimated at $52,650.00 was forthcoming to this block. It is still unclear if the new commercial space actually has anything to do with the Charlie's business itself but based on the March 13th expiration date of the permit, these guys might have to pick up the pace a little (along with filing a new permit) Does anyone have any additional information on what's going on? Charlie's Place is at 1960 Madison Avenue and the nearest trains are the 4,5,6 or the 2,3 at 125th Street. All current photos by Ulysses

☞ LISTEN: Music For Tomorrow at Casa Frela

Friday, April 9th, 7PM - 10PM at Casa Frela. To celebrate the rich cultural heritage that is shared between Harlem and New Orleans, join Music For Tomorrow featuring the Sugartone Brass Band at Casa Frela gallery in Harlem. This event will support the creative economy of New Orleans.

Beside New Orleans, no community has nurtured jazz more than Harlem. The unique sounds of Duke Ellington, Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Billie Holiday all reverberated throughout these fabled streets. Their legacy continues as the jazz musicians of today have also found a home in this community.

The Sugartone Brass Band, assembled in 2002 is New York City’s premier New Orleans style second line band. Consisting initially of 6 members, the band expanded to 8 members in 2004 and has played for thousands of people in the New York area. The top photo shows the band at a past Kehinde Wiley exhibition at the Deitch Project gallery.

Tickets are $20-$25 online or $30 at the door. Drinks and light fare included. Music For Tomorrow will donate the commission from each gig booked to causes that support the New Orleans creative economy. New Orleans gave the world jazz; now we’re giving back. One gig at a time. For further information about this event or about Casa Frela Gallery, visit or call 404-934-2616. Casa Frela is located at 47 West 119th Street, between Lenox and 5th Ave. Take to 2 or 3 train to 116th street station, walk 3 blocks north to 119th street.

☞ SEE: E-Moves at Harlem Stage

Program 1: Friday April 9th, from 7:30 PM at the Gatehouse. Harlem Stage's signature dance series has been presenting outstanding emerging, evolving and established choreographers who are defining the future of dance. This season E-Moves expands its program format to give dancers more resources and performance time and audiences a chance to see exciting new dance in a more concentrated program. E-Merging/E-Volving programs will each feature four emerging artists presenting short new works. The second half of each program will feature a 45 minute presentation of work by two evolving artists we have nurtured over the years. E-Merging Choreographers include: Miguel Anaya, Marguerite Hemmings, Malcolm Low and Paloma McGregor. 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 information on additional performances and buy $20 tickets at the Harlem Stage site: LINK

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

☞ DWELL: 5 West 121st Street in Contract

Some time last month, the brownstone at 5 West 121st Street (center of photo) went into contract within just a couple of weeks of being listed. The building, which is located within the Mount Morris Park Historic District (just two buildings west of the park), is in contract even with a grand asking price of $1.65 million. The 20-foot wide, three-family brownstone hasn't had any work done on it in some time, so it will be interesting to see where the final price landed at. We walked by a couple of days ago, and there hasn't been any activity on the property, so maybe the deal still has yet to be settled. The nearest subway to this location is the 2,3 at 125th Street. Photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Red Rooster in the Wall Street Journal

Readers have been sending in tips on how the retail space 2211-2223 FDB/8th Avenue and 120th Street has picked up speed with the installation of a new restaurant, and many speculate that this could be the new location for Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant. The Wall Street Journal blog recently caught up with Harlem's celebrity chef, but the only new information from the article was that the approximate opening date will be sometimes after Labor Day. We took the above photos recently, and new walls can been seen constructed on the 120th Street building restaurant space, but it is yet unclear if this indeed is the the new location for the next big restaurant in South Harlem. Read more of the WSJ interview here: LINK or follow up on all things Red Rooster in our past post: LINK. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ REVIVE: 311 West 141st Street

When we covered the distinct builidngs at 305-307 West 141st Street a couple of weeks ago, we noticed the empty lot next door had some major construction that was happening. A once abandoned lot is currently seeing some major construction since several floors have been added on the foundation since the beginning of March. This development has the affordable housing stamp on it and also is a little more dimensional than the square box model buildings that the government has used in the past to fill in open lots. Permits were filed a year ago, and the ground work wrapped up in the beginning of the month. The walls have been climbing since then. These smaller developments seem to have been picking up recently with many of them aided by the government. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ REMEMBER: Harlem's 2nd Avenue Subway

With the recently released images of the progress of the 2nd Avenue subway, the city's almost century-old attempt to provide rapid mass transportation to the East Side might finally arrive. The Launch Box blog has been covering the construction area on the border of East Harlem at 95th Street and connected us to their past post when the tunnels were prepped from 112th -115th Street almost four decades ago. The financial crises of that time stopped the work but, as can be seen from the subterranean image of 112th Street taken in 1975, the tracks are there waiting to be connected.

The lower photo was released yesterday and shows the launch box area prepping for the large boring machines to start its work in the near future. Alas, the first phase that is slated to finish in by 2016 will connect the Upper East Side to the 96th Street station while the dormant tunnels northward will have to wait a little while longer to finally connect far East Harlem to lower regions of Manhattan. See more on the Launch Box site: LINK. Archival photo courtesy of the New York Transit Museum. Lower photo by the MTA.

☞ SHOP: East Harlem's Goliath

The small boutique shop called Goliath is East Harlem's answer to Central Harlem's Atmos which is the Japanese sneaker boutique on 125th Street. The place is a little hard to find since signage is absent on the store except for the BAR sign out front (which belonged to the former establishment at the location). The shoes and accessories are the stand out here with a more hard to find brands and styles to be found. The graphics on the apparel are exceptional also but the fits are old school so those looking for slim silhouettes should steer clear. Goliath is on 175 East 105th Street, between 3rd and Lexington Avenue. Tel. (212) 360-7683. The closest train is the 6 at 103rd Street. Top shop photo by Ulysses. Merchandise photo courtesy of Goliath

☞ SEE: Studio Museum in Harlem Spring 2010

April 1st - June 27th at the Studio Museum. Come see the new shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem which will include:Collected. Reflections on the Permanent Collection. Also opening will be VidéoStudio: New Works from France which features North African-French artist (above) and Harlem Postcards with aritist Xenobia Bailey, Yara El-Sherbini, Brendan Fernandes and Monique Schubert. The Studio Museum in Harlem is located at 144 West 125th Street between ACP/7th Avenue and Malcolm X/6th Avenue. The nearest subway are the 2,3 or the A,B,C,D at 125th Street, Tel.(212)

Monday, March 29, 2010

☞ EAT: 5 & Diamond Sets Harlem's Food Stage

The Harlem Bespoke crew recently went out to the new 5 & Diamond restaurant on South Harlem's FDB/8th Avenue corridor, and we can happily say that this one lives up to the hype. With the local grown, pure, simple, crafted foods that chefs have been promoting recently in downtown and Brooklyn nabes, we were wondering when a top-level chef would bring some of this element uptown.

Well, folks, 5 & Diamond has arrived and Ryan Skeen's latest venture has brought a new age of cooking uptown. To start, the small side of bread came out individually hand-made with a serving of the freshest, sweetest butter (at perfect room temperature) on the side. The macaroni and cheese plate came in a compact proportion but had many subtle layers of unexpected flavor to it (second photo). The main entree sampled for the night was a beef ''Pot au Feu" (third photo), which had slowly simmered beef rib alongside fine vegetables, local mushrooms and an accent of medium rare slice beef cheek to top it off. The creme brulee dessert with fresh gooseberries was served at the end and, like many of the dishes on the menu, it was as if there were flavors there that one never knew existed in such a basic dish. This food fare with the complex layers is definitely a little more expensive than most restaurants in the area, but the experience is worth the trip over.

While we enjoy dining at the many classic Harlem establishments (which are good in a straightforward way), we found that 5 & Diamond does fill a culinary niche that hasn't arrived in this part of town until now. 5 & Diamond is at 2072 FDB/8th Avenue, between 112th and 113th Street, and the nearest subway is the B,C at 116th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ REVIVE: Old Storefronts Uncovered at MMPHD

On Saturday we noticed the scaffolding at the southeast corner of Lenox and 119th Street was finally down after uncountable months of facade repair. Not only where the sidewalks finally revealed but pieces of the building's history also became apparent to the average passerby in the Mount Morris Park Historic District. On 174 Lenox (second photo), the old Harlem Made shop is now visible with its dusty awning and decorative lighting still in place. The large corner space at 176 Lenox has signage still up that advertises J. Levins Law Office which looks to be almost half a century old. The building itself apparently dates back to 1901 and was designed by Robert T. Lyons whose name can now be seen at the corner stone as one passes by (last photo). Does anybody out there remember the background for either of these establishments? The closest train to this location is the 2,3 at 116th Street and 125th Street. Photos by Ulysses.

☞ WALK: Manhattanville Demo Picks Up Pace

Demolition seems to really be in progress at Manhattanville these days seeing that workers have been making good time with the removal of the Shell Station at the corner of Broadway and 129th Street. The site finally got some major work started a couple of weeks ago when the single level building on the lot was leveled and now the remaining gas pump stations and logo awnings have been deconstructed. New scaffolding was also erected last week on the side of the Sheffield Dairy stable which will reportedly have its historic front facade dismantled to be relocated on a new building elsewhere. We have not seen much action on the facade side of this building so it will be interesting to see if the preservation effort will come to fruition as promised. The closest train to this section of town is the 1 at 125th Street. Photos by Ulysses

☞ READ: Secrets of the Heights Revealed

This past weekend, the New York Times had a great pictorial on some of the distinct corners of the heights. Washington Heights is on the north border of Harlem and the histories often overlap when folks talk about Harlem in general. The Morris Jumel Mansion at 65 Jumel Terrace was a key location in the battle of Harlem Heights and the article features a great photo of the house's stained glass window which displays one of the first examples of scratch graffiti to be found in the city. It turns out that in the 1880's, Madame Jumel's grand daughter wanted to test out her diamond ring to see if it was real and decided to write on the front entrance window as a test. Nowadays, scratchiti has diminished in its presence but the one that was done by diamond seems to be the piece of public art that will last forever. The great slide show is part of an article in the NY Times: LINK.

☞ LISTEN: Harlem For Haiti at Gospel Uptown

Wednesday, March 31st from 6:00-8:00 PM, at Gospel Uptown. The Harlem for Haiti event at Gospel uptown will benefit the Lambi Fund of Haiti and features guest speaker Daniel Laroche, M.D., President of the Empire State Medical Association. Come hear what still needs to be done in Haiti and help out in the cause. Minimum donations are $20 to attend. Gospel Uptown is at 2110 ACP/7th Avenue at 126th Street. The nearest trains to this location are the 2,3 or the A,B,C,D at 125th Street. Photo by Ulysses.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The Baptist Temple Church

With the holiday of Passover at hand, we take a look back at the former Jewish temple at 18 West 116th Street that had a partial demolition back in October of last year. Currently the Baptist Temple Church, the former Congregation Oheb Zedek changed hands in the mid 20th century after Harlem's Jewish population dwindled and many of the old synagogues were converted into churches. The century-old building had needed repairs and, like many cash-strapped churches, the funds were not readily available. Looking at the two photos, one can see that the Jewish stars were removed long ago, along with the menorah at the entrance pediment. Major construction recently occurred next door, and some speculate that this is the cause of the structural weakness in the building. As of today, it is yet unclear what the future holds for this remnant of Harlem's Jewish past. The closest subway to this location is the 2,3 at 116th Street. Archival photo courtesy Jeffery S. Gurock. Current photo by Ulysses

Saturday, March 27, 2010

☞ WALK: The Other Langston Hughes House

The charming little block of East 127th Street often confuses first-time sightseers since there are two houses on the block associated with Langston Hughes. At first glance, the house at 13 East 127th Street seems to be the historic house of Mr. Hughes since the image of the famous author can be found peeking at onlookers. Truth be told, the house's pensive poster of Langston actually gazes across the street at the actual house on 20 East 127th Street (lower photo). The author's house was recently put up for sale last summer but was eventually pulled off the market at year's end. Read more about all things Langston Hughes in our past post: LINK. Photos by Ulysses

☞ LISTEN: Palm Sunday at Riverside Church

Sunday, March 28th, starting 10:45 AM at the Riverside Church Nave. In celebration of Palm Sunday, the 2,400 members of historic Riverside Church will receive palms and be treated to heavenly music sung by Riverside’s Children’s Choir. The service will be led by The Rev. Dr. Jill Crainshaw, Associate Dean and Professor of Ministry Studies at Wake Forest University of Divinity, and feature the blessing of palms ceremony, congregation hymns and Louis Vierne’s Kyrie from Messe Solennelle, which will be sung by The Riverside Choir. The Riverside Church Nave is at 490 Riverside Drive, between 120th and 122nd Street in Morningside Heights. Take the 1 train to either 125th or 116th Street. Photo by Ulysses.

Friday, March 26, 2010

☞ DWELL: 56 Hamilton Terrace Brownstone

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, March 28th from 12:00-1:30 PM. Another property in the Hamilton Heights Historic District is up on the market, and the single family home (center building) at roughly 142nd Street will have its first open house this weekend. From some of the interior photos released, this 1897 Townhouse looks to have much of its original details intact and some pretty amazing herringbone wood floors. There's a total of 4 bedrooms, three baths and seven working fireplaces for the asking price of $1.685 million. There's not that many dining or shopping options in this part of town, but the A,B,C,D express train at 145 Street is about a five minute walk away and the blocks are truly some of the most breathtaking in Manhattan. House photo by Ulysses.

☞ SEE: 125th Street Mosaic Wall on Film

The Spirit of Harlem Mosaic wall by the bank on 125th Street and FDB/8th Avenue got a bit of a cameo on television last week. The design contestants on the show Project Runway had to split up into groups and visit various New York neighborhoods from which to gain inspiration. After an eyebrow-raising comment about the nabe, the one design duo that visited Harlem got a good look at the beautiful mosaic wall that was created by Louis Del Sarte in 2005. See full episode and check out the walk on 125th Street at the 5:55 minute mark: LINK. The closest train to this location is the A,B,C,D at 125th. Photo by Ulysses

☞ REVIVE: 145 West 123rd Street Gets Fenced

The small lot on West 123rd Street, between Lenox and ACP/7th Avenue has a blue plywood fence and a new DOB permit announcing construction. Looking at the paperwork, a new six story building will rise up on this spot next to the church that borders the Mount Morris Park Historic District. The permit was filed in mid December 2009 and expires early this coming November. If all goes well, one more empty parcel of land will be replaced by a new building in South Harlem. The nearest subway to this location is the 2,3 train at 125th Street. Photo by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Parrilla to Open in Hamilton Heights

The empty corner retail space at 3379 Broadway and 137th Street just got a new sign up yesterday announcing the arrival of Parrilla Steakhouse. This section of Hamilton Heights right off of the 1 train stop at City College stalled in the progress of new restaurant development when the classic trio of Vinegar Hill Bakery, Cafe Largo and Tres Pasos shut down last year. The original Parrilla was established in the mid 90's, but this Parrilla might be different than the one up in Washington Heights, which has lit up store signage with a photo of a steak on it and jarring scratchy-type fonts on an aluminum base.

The new Parrilla Steakhouse, in contrast, has some tasteful wood paneling, subtle brown awnings, and cool, clean graphics on the exterior. Broadway above 125th Street might just be changing over again as the new wave of business owners rethink their aesthetics and simplify their looks in a more contemporary fashion. The contractor mentioned an anticipated opening this Saturday, so it's yet to be seen if the interior and the food hold up to the new look. Regardless, the restaurant is a good sign of things to come on this developing section of West Harlem. Photo by Ulysses

Thursday, March 25, 2010

☞ DWELL: 14 Convent Avenue Townhouse

One of the lower price townhouses in the market is surprisingly not a shell but the location comes with some compromises. The building on 14 Convent Avenue between 127th and 128th Street is just outside the boarder of Hamilton Heights and steps away from City College. The tricky part is that the exposed side of the building faces a massive open lot that the MTA uses as a terminal and then directly across from the building is a huge overgrown corner parcel that serves as the view. The window have been sealed and we assumed that it was in pretty distress condition based on the outside but recent interior images reveal some pretty amazing woodwork in the main foyer. Only about a five minute walk to the A,B,C,D express train on 125th Street so the location is pretty convenient. What's the price for the 3,040 square foot single family home? Starting at $575K, this might be a good bet for the entry level buyer with lots of vision. House photo by Ulysses

☞ ARCHITECTURE: New Addition At 1280 Fifth

The new building for the Museum for African Art at 1280 Fifth Avenue is coming along nicely. Walking by yesterday, we saw that the striking building is in the process of constructing the unique, geometrically stacked windows on the lower floors. This architectural element seemed to have been more complicated since the majority of the building had been erected before these distinct windows were put in place. There's also a box like addition that started construction recently at the far right of the building but the end result of that wing will not be as dramatic. Read more about the newest addition to the Museum Mile and the condos that will be in this location in our past post: LINK. The Museum for African Art is at the northeast corner of Central Park North and can be reached by the 2,3 express train at 110th Street and is slated to open in later in 2010. Photo by Ulysses