Monday, January 31, 2011

☞ DWELL: 64 West 119th Street Sold in January

Records from early January show that the 17 foot wide brownstone at 64 West 119th Street which went into contract in December has now sold for $1.5 million. First on the market a year ago for $1.7 million, the asking price was eventually reduced to $1.49 million which apparently did the trick.  With the total of  4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 3,635 square foot of space, the 3-family townhouse looked like it was move-in ready and had moderately updated finishes on the interior.  The landmark block in the Mount Morris Historic District isn't in the most pristine one in the area but some of the more neglected neighboring buildings have also gone into contract recently.

☞ REVIVE: Another one down at Manhattanville

One of the larger Manhattanville warehouse structures close to 12th Avenue and 125th Street is quickly going down and a surprising view might be in store for the area by summertime.  We noticed that the last of the big remaining buildings in the first half of the new Columbia University Manhatanville campus demolition site had some major scaffolding up in August and the Tuck-It Away building next door was left alone at that point (top photo).  As the taller structure gets chipped away at, some dramatic views are starting to form looking towards the Hudson at far West 125th Street.  In the last photo, one can see that the full length of the Manhatanville Viaduct is  starting to appear at the horizon towards the West Harlem Piers (click to enlarge) and more will surely be revealed as demolition progresses to the neighboring builidng.  This open vista of the landmark viaduct probably has not been seen for  over 100 years when the burgeoning industrial area had mostly lower level structures on site and the architectural marvel of the day was brand new.

☞ EAT: A Preview of FDB's Bad Horse Pizza

There was quite a buzz with the announcement of Bad Horse Pizza arriving at FDB and 120th but what type of pizzeria will this be?  Typical take-out or a little bit of an upgrade?  Visually compelling name aside (horse meat is actually served in Italy albeit in the delicacy category), a connected reader sent a twitter upload from the proprietors of the new soon-to-arrive eatery and it looks a little more promising: LINK.  There's a quote under the image that states "product development never tasted so good" and we kind of think this actually might be going somewhere.  It's at least not the typical slice and what appear to be a fresh cut mozzarella pie with large slabs of cheese shows a more artisanal aesthetic. That said, the logo of the place could be tweaked a little (current graphics are oddly anemic for such a bold name) but the food looks like it's coming along.   Read last Friday's post for more information on the Bad Horse: LINK

☞ MEET: The Children's Art Carnival Benefit

Thursday, February 3rd, 7:00 PM at Tian. One of the oldest arts organizations in Harlem can be found up in West Harlem at 62 Hamilton Terrace and 144th Street. Started in 1969 by the Museum of Modern Art as part of an outreach program, the Children's Art Carnival has been its own independent entity for the past forty years and provides arts training for children and local teens.  We received a late notice that there will be a benefit for the organization at the new restaurant Tian (the former River Room space at Riverside and 145th Street) on Thursday night with a the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra performing.  Benefit tickets are $50.00 each and include dinner, wine/beer, live music and dance. Tickets must be purchased by Tuesday, February 1st.  For more information and tickets, call 212.281.4442 or email:

☞ SEE: Top Chef at Rao's in East Harlem

New York magazine gave a preview of this week's Top Chef All-Stars which will have the latest challenge at East Harlem's iconic Rao's.  The restaurant at 455 East 114th Street (at Pleasant Avenue) is one of last vestiges of Harlem's vast Little Italy nabe that proliferated on the east side over half a century ago and the eatery is notoriously difficult to get a table at.  Open only Mondays through Fridays, Rao's is booked completely for the next couple of years since some major patrons have secured nightly spots.  Those who are curious about the local legend just have to tune in for the cooking competition this Wednesday night on Bravo: LINK

Sunday, January 30, 2011

☞ INTRODUCING: Poseidon Rises at St. Nicholas

The Friends of St. Nicholas Park blog dropped us a line last night and informed that more new sculptures were up at St. Nicholas Park.  Apparently the two new artist couple that just moved in around the corner (might) have been up to some beautiful mischief again as one can see from the above photos.  Walking by the park this morning, the classical theme of Poseidon chasing a nymph in the form of a mermaid could be seen on the hillside close to 141st Street.  The detail on this one is absolutely amazing!  A local gallery should get a show started for those responsible for this random act of art since there's some great stuff going on here (click photos to enlarge).  Check out more night photos on the Friends of St. Nicholas Park site: LINK.  For more on the presumed artists, read our previous post: LINK

Saturday, January 29, 2011

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Talked About Posts

Last week's most talked about posts and alongside comment count.

1. Harlem by Jonathan Gill (15)
2. Bad Horse Pizza on FDB (15)
3. 2280 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (12)
4. 229 Lenox New Facade Debut (7)
5. Mix of old and New Worlds on 116th (6)

☞ SEE: More & More La Marqueta in the News

East Harlem's famous and formerly declining La Marqueta market at Park and 116th just got another feature story but this time on the local news channel NY1: LINK.  It seems like the word is definitely out since another vendor has joined on since last month which ticks up the total count to 11 right now.  Hot Bread Kitchen also confirmed with us that they too will be opening a retail stand in the near future so the market  under the Park Avenue underpass is finally growing again.  As reported previously, the legendary El Barrio market used to have hundreds of vendors several decades ago and now the few longtime holdouts such as Jose's Meat Market are enjoy a bit of synergy with the added neighbors.

New vendors such as SpaHa Cafe, Urban Garden Center, Buried Treasure farms, Breezy Hills Orchard and Viva Produce are enthusiastic about serving their new community and the NY1 video shows that many are happy with the changes.  It's not quite bustling yet but as word gets out, La Marqueta will probably be a Harlem must-see destination in the coming years.  Calendars should also be marked for Wednesday, February 2nd from 4:00 PM-7:00 PM since the official open house for the new La Marqueta is scheduled for next week on that date.

Friday, January 28, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: P.S. 186 Class of 1942

Faith Ringgold's daughter Michele Wallace published the above photo of the artist's 6th grade 1942 graduation photo from P.S. 186 on a blog entry back in 2009 (click to enlarge).  In this portrait, the different demographics of the Hamilton Heights neighborhood in the war years can be seen but the author mentions that each group lived separatedly from one another in their own micro nabes within the area around the school. The public school on West 145th Street has been closed for several decades now and Ms. Wallace muses that "something prevents this magnificent building from participating in the architectural renaissance going on in the rest of Harlem, not sure what." We've been following the battle to save P.S 186 for the past couple years and can provide a little insight for those interested: LINK. Read more of Ms. Wallace's entry on the wonderfully personal Soul Pictures: Black Feminist Generations site: LINK.

☞ INTRODUCING: Bad Horse Pizza on FDB

Venturing out today, we noticed that the old Corcoran office at 120th and FDB/8th Avenue had new signs up on the windows.  Apparently a pizza eatery called Bad Horse Pizza is coming soon to the commercial space at No. 2222 but there's not much else on the internet except a place holder for the website:  DOB permits do not seem to have been filed yet so we will have to wait this one out to see what happens.

☞ DWELL: 427 West 146th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, January 30th, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM.  The townhouse located west of St. Nicholas Avenue at 427 West 146th Street just arrived on the market and will be having its first open house this weekend.  Overall, the 14 foot wide, single-family house is on the narrow side (it's the right half of the 28 foot wide building pictured) but it is in the lovely Sugar Hill Historic District of West Harlem.  This one looks like a flip since the house was bought a year ago but the lack of bathroom and kitchen photos probably indicate a moderate renovation in those areas.  With that said, there's still some beautiful details left inside and the infrastructure is apparently upgraded.  The immediate block is purely residential but Jackie Robinson Park is close by and there's an express train station just half a block away.  An initial asking price has been set at $999k so it will be interesting to see what one of these narrow houses go for.

☞ ARCHITECTURE: Mexican Flair in East Harlem

The Mexican community is the one immigrant group that's bringing a lot of personal architectural style uptown these days and one can find the many examples walking around East Harlem. There's a sort of old world, south of the border look that's happening at most of the eateries being set up along East 116th Street and lower Lexington Avenue that is transforming these areas into the Mexican version of Little Italy. Barrel tile roofs can be found even on a simple bodega (at center photo) and on many of the newer restaurants that have opened in the past decade.  There's some classic neon such as the one at La Hacienda (which is still closed) or the Pueblo Revival style of El Paso's main eatery on Lexington and 104th Street.  It's more than a bit literal but one can argue that there's some charm to be found going this direction than the standard glossy, photo-print awnings and aluminum storefronts that seem to be abundant otherwise.

☞ INTRODUCING: 292 Manhattan Avenue

There's a beautiful row of identical townhouses facing Morningside Park at 112th Street that were in various renovated condition but now it looks like the last one that needed a facade makeover just finished up. Number 292 Manhattan Avenue at the far right seemed like it had a rusted looking oriel up for some time while its neighbors all had new painted brownstone and cast iron parts.  We're not sure when the paintwork was all done but noticed for the first time recently that a rather glossy coat of pine green had been added as an accent alongside a rich brown base color.  Some of the adjacent townhouses have green on them so the owner must have been trying to keep the color story consistent. It's definitely more interesting now (which we like) and a nice touch can be found with the accent medallions highlighted at the frieze of the oriel bay windows

☞ REVIVE: New Signs at 324 Pleasant Avenue

The large parcel of vacant land at 324 Pleasant Avenue between East 117th and 118th Street had plans for a new construction on site but not much has happened in the past couple years.  As can be seen at the lower photo, the arrival of the Pleasant Avenue Apartments had been announced at about the same time the East River Plaza was under construction but that plot of land has been pretty inactive until recent.  When walking by the block in the past week, we noticed many new permits on the plywood fence so we had a look at the DOB site to see what was going on.  Based on the paperwork trail, preliminary permits were filed all through 2010 and an approval to start on the first of seven floors was posted up a month ago.  It's unclear if the new housing will be rental or condos so if anyone has any tips, send them over:

☞ SEE: Collected. Black & White

Sunday, February 6th, 1:00 PM at The Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street between ACP/7th Avenue and Lenox.  Collected. Black & White brings together a selection of black-and-white photographs, paintings and works on paper from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection. This exhibition is a companion to and shares space with the black-and-white photographs of Dawoud Bey’s Harlem, USA (1975-1979). The guided tour will have something for everyone: adults, families, and kids of all ages are welcome. Go to the museum site for more details:  Photo by Adam Reich.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Park and 125th Circa 1903

An old postcard from 1903 show a hand painted photo of 125th Street looking east at Park Avenue.  Procters Theatre can be seen on the south side of the street (click image to enlarge) at the far right and the elevated trains station is at the horizon.  Much of the immediate block has been replaced by modern buildings but a glimpse of the mansard roofed structures at the left can be seen in our past post on 133 East 125th Street when it still stood back in the 1980's: LINK

☞ DWELL: 371-373 Manhattan Priced Lower

The former church property up for sale at 371-373 Manhattan (just south of 116th Street) that was going for $2 million last year has had another price cut recently.  This was the building that the mosque on FDB was trying to buy but couldn't complete the contract and by the last quarter of 2010, the price was reduced to $1.85 million.  After not getting any offers, it looks like another 10 percent was taken off the asking about a week ago and now one can get the pair for $1.65 million. From the look of this particular townhouse block, it appears that all the houses at this corner were from the same architect and 371-373 had been resurfaced to combine two of homes decades ago.  If one were to restore the line of this block, No. 371 would probably have a straight roof line with a cornice and No. 373 would have the pointed gable design.  There's not much curb appeal as is and interior will probably need a lot of work so this is why it's probably sitting on the market still.

☞ WALK: Marcus Garvey Park After Snowfall

There's absolutely the narrowest window of time to get some great after snowfall photos and we took a quick trek out this morning to check out Marcus Garvey Park before the slush arrived.   The 19th century watch tower at the top of the hill can't really be seen when the foliage is in full bloom but it becomes visible in the cold seasons.  All the trees still had snow on them but the sun was just starting to melt the top layers by noon time. Families with small children also knew to get out early to hit the slopes after a big blizzard and many were out today (lower photo).  Anyways, it's pretty for about 3 seconds so enjoy while you can.

☞ SHOP: Mix of Old and New Worlds on 116th

Harlem's changing  dynamics have been much discussed as of late and West 116th Street might be one of one of the more interesting places to see what's happening with some of the recent arrivals in South Harlem.  The commercial district of 116th Street between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th has changed into an African immigrant neighborhood over the past decade or so and many specialty shops have since been set up.  Stores ranging from restaurants, beauty salon and wholesalers have all lined the north side of the street and have formed one of the newest ethnic communities in the city.  The old and new are now sort of mixing together nowadays since The Winery moved from their FDB location to the west corner of 116th in the past year and Make My Cake has their boutique cafe on the most eastern section of the strip.

☞ SEE: Black Boy & The War at HSA

February 10th-20th, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM, Harlem School of the Arts, 645 St. Nicholas Avenue at 145th Street. The Movement Theatre Company from the East Village brings the production of Black Boy and the War uptown.  Broadway World describes the play as one "that delves into the complicated and inextricable connection between the Black Man and the Black Woman": LINK. General admission start at $10 and may be bought here: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Comedy Covo on Sunday

Sunday, January 31st, 7:30PM, Upstairs Lounge at Covo.  The first end of the month Sunday Comedy at Covo event for 2011 starts this weekend over in Manhattanville's viaduct corridor.  Comedy Covo is hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin alongside comics from Comedy Central, VH1, and HBO. The talent on hand this Sunday will include headliner Susan Prekel from Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Comics Unleashed and the Montreal Comedy Festival. Other comedians for the night will include Jackson Ross Best, Jr, Matt Ruby and Josh Homer.  As usual, a DJ will be providing the music and half priced drinks make the free event pocket friendly. Covo is located at 701 West 135 Street and 12th Avenue. Tel.(212) 234-9573. Take the 1 train to 137th Street or 125th Street.