Wednesday, June 30, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The Silver Rail Bar circa 1948

The top two photos are from 1940's and shows a different view of FDB/8th Avenue than most are familiar with nowadays. The entire block on the west side of the avenue, between 124th and 125th Street, consisted of low level buildings and a couple of neighborhood shops. The Silver Rail Bar seems to be the standout and it would probably do well today in this location which is the site of the Harlem USA complex (last photo). Anyone up for a lounge revival? Archival photo courtesy of NYPL. Current photo by Ulysses

☞ DWELL: 260 West 121st Street in Contract

The five-family, grey painted townhouse at 260 West 121st Street (east of St. Nicholas Avenue) went into contract at the end of May after being on the market for 7 months. The 18 foot wide building had great bones to it but the chopped up rooms and boarding house setup was daunting to some. There is also the open lot next door which is an unknown variable for the future. The original asking price was at $1.3 million but that number would eventually go down to $1.15 million. Location wise, it's less than a 5 minute walk to the A,B,C,D trains on 125th Street, right next to all the new restaurants on FDB and in short distance to Morningside Park. The electric was at least upgraded in this building so it will be interested to see what it eventually sold for. Did anyone see this house? Thoughts? Photos by Ulysses

☞ EAT: Doug E.'s Chicken and Waffles

The colorful, 1980's graffiti inspired storefront at 132nd Street and ACP/7th Avenue has had folks wondering for the past couple of years when the eatery will actually open. Doug E.'s Chicken and Waffles is named after its proprietor, old school, hip hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh who apparently also bought a few townhouses to restore in Harlem. Rumors of the chicken joint's opening have been circulating for some time but there hasn't been any activity on the site until recently. The lower photo shows a side entrance that was getting some work done on it this week. Does anyone have any inside info? Photos by Ulysses

☞ SEE: New Street Sculpture at Montefiore Park

At a distance, we thought that the relatively new head sculpture at Montefiore Park (137th Street and Broadway) looked like some sort of fanciful plant and many have used it as such since it was installed. During the nicer days, a few of the older Dominican gentlemen from the nabe can be found with their chairs set up underneath the tree-like, cast metal fronds and enjoying the shade. Form and function all in one large piece of public art! See what was at this exact corner a few months back from our past post: LINK. The closest train to this corner is the 1 at 137th Street. Photo by Ulysses

☞ REMEMBER: Sister Mary Celine Graham

A reader called the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary for the arrangements made for Sister Mary Celine Graham who was tragically killed in last Tuesday's car chase on Lenox.

The viewing will be at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, 219 West 132nd from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Thursday, July 1st, followed by a wake at the church at 7:00 p.m.

There will also be a mass at 10:00 AM on Friday, July 2nd, at the same church.

☞ READ: Harlem Stage in The New York Times

Today's New York Times has a story on the dynamic executive director of Harlem Stage and how the organization turned itself around in the past year. Patricia Cruz had to reduce the $2.7 million budget down to $2 million for 2010 since the nonprofit ran into a $737,000 deficit after the 2009 season. Instead of laying off staff, Ms. Cruz "counted paper clips" and came up with innovative ways to bring in younger crowds to the Hamilton Heights theater and also partnered with other like groups to offset costs. Harlem Stage at the Gatehouse now seems to be making some grounds this year and it goes to show that creativity is sometimes the big key to get businesses moving along. Read more in the New York Times: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: West 124th and Fifth circa 1932

We just assumed that the new residential building at the west corner of 124th Street and 5th Avenue (north end of Marcus Garvey Park) replaced an existing corner brownstone in this well preserved block by the Mt. Morris Park Historic District. On the contrary, the above photo, taken in 1932, shows a corner garden space where the newish development now sits today (lower photo). Does anyone know when the new building arrived on the lot? Archival image from NYPL. Current photo by Ulysses

☞ DWELL: 221 West 138th Street Townhouse

The landmark Strivers' Row on 138th Street (between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th Avenue) has another house recently placed on the market. Number 221 West 138th Street is a corner building, 20 x 56 foot wide (on a 30 x 99 foot lot!), has that former-carriage yard-side-parking set up and is currently asking for $1.49 million. Overall, the two-family house has 3,894 square foot of space, 5 bedrooms, two baths, a half bath and a legal commercial ground floor space. The block is peaceful and tree-lined with a couple of restaurants that have recently opened on the ACP/7th Avenue side in the past years but not too much is happening as far as amenities. The B,C train at 135th Street and St. Nicholas Park is a good 5 minute walk away. Facade photo by Ulysses

☞ READ: The Kalahari Mixes Things Up

The New York Times takes a look at the Kalahari and the differences in living in a mixed income development. The building on 116th Street, between 5th and Lenox, has a total of 249 units all together and 120 of them are under the affordable category. Along with the bankers that have moved in, there apparently are people making average salaries, such as teachers and policemen, living in the building. The article states that roughly half the building is white and the other half are a black, hispanic and asian. Sound like things are working out with the new neighbors and the only major shocking thing about the affordable apartments are the wall-to-wall carpet and the popcorn ceiling. The market rate units all have bamboo floors and smooth finishes. Read more in the NY Times: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

☞ INTRODUCING: 620 West 143rd Street

We took the lower photo of a development on 143rd Street and Riverside Drive about a year ago and a reader who lives on the block has informed us that the building is nearly complete. We swung by last week to check out 620 West 143rd Street and it looked like it was definitely coming along. The grand prewar buildings on Riverside Drive are pretty famous so this new construction has a lot to live up to. The only information that we found on the building is on an architect site (with snazzy lobby rendering): LINK. Does anyone have any more information on this development? The closest train to this location is the 1 train at 145th Street. Photos by Ulysses

☞ DRINK: 67 Orange Street Middle Eastern Night

Wednesday, June 30th, 9:00 PM-2:00 AM at 67 Orange Street (no cover). Harlem's first retro-speakeasy is hosting a night of Middle Eastern music, dance, food an cocktails. 67 Orange Street is the lounge named after a famous 19th century speakeasy and can be found today at 2082 FDB/8th Avenue (just south of 113th Street) and the nearest subways are the B,C at 110th or 116th Street. For reservations: LINK. Tel. 212.662.2030. Photo by Melissa

☞ READ: North General Hospital to Close in July

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that North General in East Harlem will be closing its doors on July 2nd. The 30 year old hospital at Madison and 120th Street has filed for bankruptcy and the main building will be converted into a nursing care facility. A federally subsidized clinic is also planned for the Harlem hospital. Read more in the NY Daily News: LINK. Photo by Ulysses

Monday, June 28, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The Italian Savings Bank

Before it became El Barrio, East Harlem was the largest Italian neighborhood in the United States and the little building on 116th Street and Third Avenue is a relic of that past. The top photo (circa 1930) shows the Italian Savings Bank at 204 East 116th Street with the name clearly engraved at the front facade. By the end of the 1950's, the population of the East Harlem's Italian community drastically diminished with the arrival of the urban renewal housing projects that would wipe out much of the neighborhood blocks. The buildings on East 116th Street are still pretty much intact but the neighborhood has become more of a Mexican enclave in the most recent years. The lower photo shows the Ortiz Funeral Home (without any of windows) that presides in the bank building today. Read more about Italian Harlem in our past post: LINK. Archival photo courtesy of NYPL. Current facade photo by Ulysses

☞ DWELL: 401 Manhattan Sold Close to Asking

The Metropolitan Museum's Victorian curator's single family home at 401 Manhattan Avenue (between 116th and 117th) was mysteriously pulled off the market in April but now the sales price has finally been revealed since it apparently went into contract in the end of May. On the market since last November, it took about 8 months to move and one might point out that the failed contract slowed things down a little. So the 18 x 40 foot building (on a shallow 50 foot lot) had a tight 2,160 square foot in total but a curator's touch might have been the thing that pushed the sale through. The original asking price was $1.59 million and the final selling price has now been revealed at $1.55 million. The house is one avenue away from Morningside Park, the shops at lower FDB/8th Avenue and the B,C trains. Read our past posts on 401 Manhattan Avenue: LINK. Facade photo by Ulysses

☞ INTRODUCING: 88 Morningside Rooftop Reveal

We took the above photo of the (yet to be completed) development 88 Morningside last week after the news that 15 apartments have now been placed on the market. The newly available units include nine 1-bedrooms starting at $365,000, four 2-bedrooms starting at $595,000, and two 3-bedroom apartments beginning at $825,000. Furthermore, the common roof terrace sketch was just sent to our inbox with the view of Morningside Park and St. John the Divine. Location wise, the building at West 122nd Street is directly facing Morningside Park, about a 5 minute walk to the A,B,C,D train at 125th Street and in walking distance to Morningside Heights and the amenities at South Harlem's FDB/8th Avenue. The brownstone lined sides streets in the area are some of the best but there still is one corner building that is waiting to be revived on the block. Has anyone checked out this building yet? More details on the 88 Morningside site: LINK. Facade photo by Ulysses.

☞ DRINK: The Lexington Social Arriving on 103rd

So we mentioned a week ago that the SpaHa Lounge space was transforming into something new and now it looks like The Lexington Social has taken over. A reader pointed out this weekend that the facade on the shopfront at Lexington, between 103rd and 104th Street, now has classic gold lettering on its front window along with some old school globe sconces. We took a quick photo of the unfinished interior and one can see that they are really going for the classic, 19th century aesthetic that has been popular downtown and in Brooklyn over the past few years. It's good to see Harlem is catching up with some of the city's trends and East Harlem seems to be making some dramatic changes recently. The closest train to this location is the 6 at 103rd Street. Read more in our past post on the new Lexington social location: LINK. Photos by Ulysses

☞ LISTEN: The Street Pianos Arrive in Harlem

British artist Luke Jerram has designed 167 Street Pianos in major cities all over the world and many of them have arrived in the uptown nabes this past week. The hand-painted pianos can be found in St. Nicholas Park (top photo), by the fountain sculpture at St. John the Divine (middle) and the East Harlem's Art Park (last). They are covered with plastic during off hours but by mid afternoon, folks are encourage to play some tunes and make the city streets more merry. Other locations in Harlem include Riverbank State Park and the Dana Discovery Center at the Harlem Meer (Central Park North). Check them out before they move on to another city! Get the details on the Street Piano website: LINK. Photos by Ulysses

☞ SEE: Bikers for Diapers on West 122nd Street

There was a whole lot of bike gang activity this past weekend on West 122nd Street, but it's not what you think! Photographer/journalist Paula Froke ( sent us over these great images of a motorcycle club's annual diaper delivery to the Hale House, which is in the middle of the block. The crew arrived with a truck full of diapers and everyone helped unload the goods to the local nonprofit organization. Well done guys! Check out more photos on Ms. Froke's Flickr site: LINK

Sunday, June 27, 2010

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Talked About Posts

1. Yesterday's Fatal Car Chase on Lenox (63)
2. Court Upholds Columbia Expansion (35)
3. The GlobeTrippin Fundraiser (17)
4. Sidewalk Dining Arrives on FDB (11)
5. Work Signs for 5 West 125th Street? (11)

☞ LISTEN: Jazz at the Harlem Meer

FREE JAZZ, Sunday, June 27th, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM at the Harlem Meer, 110th Street (between Lenox and 5th Avenue). Part of the annual Harlem Meer Performance Festival, Cynthia Holiday will perform at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center. The lakeside performance is free and open to all ages. A few chairs are provided and guests are welcomed to bring a blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy the music from one of the Park's nearby lawns. Call 212-860-1370 for further information. The nearest subways to this location are the 2,3 trains at 110th Street.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

☞ SEE: Around Harlem This Weekend

There are a lot of free events for family and adults this weekend. Tonight, Saturday, June 26th, at Marcus Garvey Park, 8:30 PM, will be a screening of the animated film Madagascar: LINK. For the adults, Mojo is having its first anniversary on Saturday night (congratulations!) and will have Happy Hour half-priced drinks ($6) starting at 10:00 PM to celebrate. Over in West Harlem, Covo Trottoria will have their monthly Sunday Covo Comedy event with half priced drinks ($3-$5) from 4:00 PM-midnight: LINK. All photos by Ulysses

Friday, June 25, 2010

☞ SHOP: Morningside Park Farmers' Market

Saturday, June 26th, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM at Morningside Park, West 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue (rain or shine). We are posting our weekly reminder to support the Morningside Park Farmer's Market so everyone can get the word out. Get your local grown, organic goods and some local caught fish at the best quality green market that we have currently uptown. Let's keep the momentum going! The closest train to this location is the B,C at 110th Street. Check out the list of vendors and upcoming events on the Community Markets site: LINK. All photos by Ulysses

☞ DWELL: 108 West 138th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, June 27th, 1:30-3:00 PM. The 16 x 52 (on a 99 foot lot), single family, 3,286 square foot house at West 138th Street, just east of Edgecombe Avenue is curently on the market for $1.2 million. There's an owner's triplex at the top floors and the garden floor is zoned for a business (daycare center). Looks move in ready, the kitchen and baths are on the moderate side and the B,C at St. Nicholas Park and 135th is less then 5 minutes to walk to. Does anyone know what this block is like? It's very quiet in the day from our experience. Photos by Ulysses

☞ REVIVE: 245 Lenox Brownstone Gets Fluted

We have been following the restoration of 245 Lenox (north of 122nd Street) for some time and some of the detail work on the facade now seems to be coming along. When restoring brownstone surfaces, a scratch coat is applied first to dry so that the second coat of concrete and sand mixture can adhere to it when the weather gets warm enough.

The top photo shows the workers analyzing a column out front that had its scratch coat covered in the stucco-like mixture (at left). The right column went through a similar process but had the fluted grooves carved in at some point. The amazing thing is that it's all done by hand, so this is truly an art form. The middle photo shows the same view yesterday and both columns are ready to go. One of the final steps would eventually tint the entire surface to the desired brownstone color. The last photo is the neighboring building at number 243 which has yet to go through this transformation. All photos by Ulysses