Monday, February 28, 2011

☞ DWELL: 515 West 152nd Sold in January

The house at 515 West 152nd Street (just west of Amsterdam) has been on the market for a couple of years and has finally sold according to public records released in January. This 17 foot wide, 2-family home has 3,764 square foot of space altogether and originally was asking for $795K back in 2009.  Several months later, a different broker took over and listed the house at $619K which seemed to have made the difference since the final price landed at $610K.  A point of interest on this Hamilton Heights block may also be found at the house next door which has a mansard roof and belonged to dancer Arthur Mitchell who lived there until 2004: LINK

☞ SHOP: The Manhattan Chicken Market

There's an old live poultry market over on Amsterdam Avenue that's been in the business since the 1930's but we didn't realize that there was another such establishment over in East Harlem.  Just west of Second Avenue, the small shop at 248 East 117th Street first caught our eye because of the old hand painted signage and miniature marquee.  Upon closer inspection, we found that live chickens were indeed sold on site and so there are definitely two of such poultry shops in Harlem.  Check out our past post on La Granja on West 126th Street to see the archival photo on file: LINK

☞ REVIVE: More Scaffolding at 229 Lenox

It was only just last month that the scaffolding finally went down at the facade renovation of number 229 Lenox in the Mount Morris Park Historic District and now it looks like more work is needed out front. The top photo shows the building with the netting up again this past weekend and therefore it is still unclear to when the landmark townhouse will open its art gallery at the ground floor.  We also were not quite sure if the colors for the cornice and dormers were actually correct or just primer (lower photo from January) so painting might be one of the next steps.

☞ READ: Local Catholic Schools Excel

There always seem to be an occasional article written about how Catholic schools have been outperforming public schools in less wealthy neighborhoods and the Daily News just recently featured Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem: LINK.  Located at Pleasant Avenue and 119th, the school is right on the border where the old tenement neighborhood transitions into a housing project super block.  Nevertheless, the Catholic school has had reportedly 100% of its fourth grade students pass the math and English statewide tests.  In contrast, the public schools in the area are only averaging about half that success rate so having a Catholic school in the neighborhood might be a good alternative for some.  For the most part, these schools also charge substantially less tuition than private schools in the city and that is another reason why they make sense to a lot parents.

☞ INTRODUCING: Create Change Public Art 2011

Create Change public art was founded by the Laundromat Project organization which engages artist to come up with installations that benefit the surrounding communities.  The lower photo shows Stephanie Dinkin's Book Bench from 2007 which invited viewers to donate or take a book at their leisure.  This nonprofit organization just received $75,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation and $50,000 from the Lambent Foundation so they can increase the number of artist involved for the year.  For details on meetings and how to participate, check out the Laundromat Project website: LINK.  The application deadline will be March 24th for 2011.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

☞ REVIVE: A Sugar Hill Townhouse in the News

The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend on the neighborhood of Sugar Hill which is a part of the Hamilton Heights section of West Harlem: LINK.  A house discussed in the feature is on sale at 290 Convent and reminded us that there was still a more interesting background story to this particular building.   Having seen the property at past open houses, we noted that there was a large library in one of the living areas with books and manuscripts from what is left of the previous owner's personal collection.  There was a newspaper clipping on the library desk from the Times (back from 1999) were Mr. Noel Pittman was interviewed about his quest to gather slavery memorabilia in hopes that a museum might one day take them: LINK.  Only books now remain in the house and the family estate is selling off the well-worn property so it is unclear if any of those said artifacts ever made it to the local museums.  There's more on the house in our post from last year: LINK.  Archival photo courtesy of New York Times.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

☞ READ: Last Month's Most Viewed Posts

Here are the top posts for February alongside comment count.

1. Lido to Debut This Weekend (15)
2. Will an Apple Store Open in Harlem? (21)
3. Bad Horse Pizza on FDB (15)
4. A Preview of FDB's Bad Horse Pizza (10)
5.  Poseidon Rises at St. Nicholas (5)
6.  Harlem's NY Magazine Moment (9)
7.  Langston Hughes House Still on Market (2) 
8. Joe the Art of Coffee Warms Things Up (3)
9.  Crowds Greeted at a New La Marqueta (5)
10. When NYC Gave Away Brownstones (1)

☞ WALK: The Harlem Biennale Arts Tour

Tuesday, March 1st, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM,  Tours located from 119th and 121st Street and 5th to 7th Avenues. Harlem Biennale will have an arts, history and culinary tour next week in anticipation of the upcoming Armory week.  The event will start out at Edward Hillel’s historic brownstone artist studio and proceed with a guided tour of the historic Mount Morris Park neighborhood with Harlem historian and author Michael Henry Adams. The third leg of this event will include local gallery visits to Casa Frela, Heath and Renaissance Fine Art Galleries. At the early evening hours, participants will then be treated at Settepani Restaurant with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres alongside some of Harlem's great local artist and cultural notables. Prix-fix dinners are also available after the cocktail hour. Maximum participants: 50 guests.  Cost: without dinner: $20; Including prix-fix dinner: $45. RSVP REQUIRED:

Friday, February 25, 2011

☞ DWELL: 470 West 148th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, February 27th, 1:30PM-3:00 PM. The townhouse at 470 West 148th Street (between Amsterdam and Convent) has been on the market for a couple of years now and maybe 2011 will finally sell this west Harlem home. It's basically the left half of the building in the top photo so the 12.5 foot width is quite narrow and is meant only for a single family to reside in. There's about 2,752 square foot of space overall with some details intact but when the house was first up for about $1.4 million in 2009, nothing really happened.  Prices were lowered that year until it was pulled off the market at $999K for most of 2010.  It's now back and the price is starting at $995K at this part of Hamilton Heights that has enough charm to it but not too much going on in the immediate block.  The express train is a couple of blocks east so traveling about seems to be okay for this one.

☞ DRINK: New Harlem Nightlife at Aloft

The WXYZ Bar at Aloft Harlem on FDB/8th (between 123rd and 124th Street) has a weekly roster of nightly events listed on their Facebook site and each one has a different theme to mix things up: LINK.  Live DJ music and drinks specials change for each evening but the Tuesday event might be the most transformative for Harlem's night life.  The Ladies Night out (lower photo) appears to be a new mixed-crowd event were gender illusionist are the feature of the show.  Performer Jasmine Blue headlines the acts with a rotating mix of talent which has put back a racy element uptown that apparently has been missing for some time. Interior photos via Aloft Harlem on Facebook: LINK

☞ EAT: La Hacienda Up for Sale on 116th

La Hacienda between Third and Second Avenue has one of the most visually compelling retro neon signs in the area but internal issues has apparently brought the restaurant space up for sale. The Mexican eatery has been closed for quite some time but we always kind of thought it might open again under new management.  Whoever comes by and takes up the space should try to reuse what's out there and keep the show going for it is really a unique form of signage rarely seen in East Harlem. We remember going to Beauty Bar in the East Village many years ago when it was the first of its kind to use an original New York City store space and convert it for a different use: LINK.  The old beauty shop-turned-bar has spawned many branches outside the city so a little character goes a long way if all of the other business elements are in place.

☞ READ: Harlem Condos in the News

The New York Times apartment search series has another article on one woman's Manhattan apartment hunt which had her eventually looking at what Harlem had to offer: LINK.  There was a price range restriction of $650K  that did not get much floor space in Manhattan and when a broker suggested Harlem, the buyer was pleasantly surprised at what she saw. This piece is good primer since it talks about a renter paying $2,550 a month for a not so ideal apartment and just started looking to buy since owning might be a better option.  There's also the FHA loans that ask only for 3.5 percent down that many Harlem developments are eligible for so the down payment is a lot easier.  AMNY this past Monday also had a feature on how Harlem is going through its second cycle of recent real estate growth: LINK.  In the past couple of years, the trend had been writing about uptown's condo glut and 2011 has seen the opposite with quite a bit of positive news from the media.

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Friday, February 25th,  6:00PM – 8:00PM,  The Harlem by Jonathan Gill book tour at Aloft Harlem, 2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd, Tel: 212.749.4000. For more details on the venue, check out the Aloft Harlem site: LINK

Friday-Saturday, February 25th-26th, 7:00 PM, Haiti's Children of God at the Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue. The Lorey Hayes play Haiti's Children of God will debut this weekend.  Get more information and $20 tickets at the center site:

Saturday, February 26th, 2:00PM-4:00 PM, They Call Me Mr. Apollo book reading and signing at Harlem Flo, 2276 Frederick Douglas Blvd. Louis and Stefan from the Harlem Flo Boutique will have an event for author Billy Mitchell who has been at the Apollo for over 47 years and has many stories from his tenure at the iconic theater. Light refreshments will be served. For more details, contact the store directly: or call 212.316.1525.

Sunday, February 27th, 3:00 PM, The Digital Diaspora at the Gatehouse Theater, 150 Convent Avenue and 135th Street. Tickets are $10 for this visual presentation of vintage photographs of families from Harlem's past: LINK

Thursday, February 24, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: The Mansion at 126th & Fifth

The above 1884 architectural sketch of the Dr. L.C. Warner House at 126th Street had us wondering if it ever got built so we ended up checking out the history of that particular location on the corner of 5th Avenue.  At the center photo taken circa 1932, the mansion that sits on the corner just south of the Mount Morriah Church can still be seen but the image has it listed as a "boarding school for colored children."  It would appear that sometimes soon after, the entire structure was torn down to be replaced by a prewar apartment complex that consumed a few of the neighboring brownstones (lower photo).  The only other part of Harlem that seems to have this type of architecture is up on St. Nicholas Avenue and the Bailey Mansion is probably the largest one to be found: LINK. Archival photo courtesy NYPL

☞ DWELL: Chanticleer House Sold in January

Public records now show that the former home of James Watson AKA Raven Chanticleer has finally sold.  Located at 318 West 115th Street (just west of FDB/8th), the house of the artist known for Harlem's only African-American Wax Museum was in limbo for quite some time after Mr. Chanticleer's passing in 2002.  Most of the wax statues were stored in this building for some time afterwards when family members moved into the museum townhouse next door at No. 316.  The works of art were reportedly destroyed sometimes in 2005 and the house now has been privately sold off for $775K.  There's 3,468 square foot all together and the 16 foot wide building appears to be still listed as an SRO.  All of the  ornaments that were added out front by the artist include gilded statues and hand painted murals so it is unclear now what their fate will be. Check out our past post for more on Raven Chanticleer of Harlem: LINK

☞ WALK: Overlook Pavilion Awaits Its Debut

It appears that the derelict Overlook Pavilion at Riverside Drive and 125th Street has finally been restored but still awaits a spring opening.  By the end of 2010, most of the plywood out front had been removed and now only a low-level barricade sections off the romantic rendezvous spot facing the Hudson.  We also noticed that there are stairwells on either side of the structure that leads to another path below (middle photos).  Everything is roped off now but following the course on the upper level for about a block north, one will discover the other notable monument of the Amiable Child which is also the other hidden artifact of the area: LINK.  It's a little out of way but this little section on the far west side is sort of a cool secret spot to traverse when one has bit of time on their hands.  Check out what the pavilion looked like before in our past post: LINK

☞ REVIVE: The Landmark Hook & Ladder 14

A read mentioned that they had seen activity at the within Hook & Ladder 14 at 120 East 125th Street in the past week so we went out to do a little more research on the closed 19th century firehouse. Walking by yesterday, the main entrance was definitely open for part of morning and there were a couple of gentleman looking around on site.  Most of the late Victorian era firehouses are lined in white subway tile but the interior to this one seems to have been gutted (but not recently).  Construction permits are lacking at this point so maybe a developer is looking at it for exploratory purposes.  More research on our end found that the building was part of a series of firehouses that were controversially closed a few years back and that this particular branch is also known a Engine 36: LINK.  Another document found also states that the old Ladder 14 will be ideally converted for community use in the future and that the building has been an official New York City landmark since 1997: LINK

☞ Meet: Chef Daniel Boulud at La Marqueta

Thursday, March 3rd, 5:00 PM-9:00 PM, La Marqueta, 1590 Park Avenue at 115th Street. World famous chef Daniel Boulud will baking bread early in the early evening at the Hot Bread Kitchen charity event next week.  Live demos, cocktails and epicurean bites will be provided throughout the night so come help donate to this great local nonprofit.  Starter tickets are at $175 and can be purchased at the following site which also has more details: LINK. For more on this great organization that teaches local immigrant women the art of artisanal baking, check out our past post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Millery Polyné at RFA Gallery

Friday, February 25th, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, RFA, Renaissance Fine Art Gallery, 2075 ACP/7th Avenue at 124th Street. Haiti Cultural Exchange's monthly public forum and discussion called An n' Pale | Café Conversations is featuring Millery Polyné, an NYU professor and historian scholar at RFA gallery.  Millery Polyné is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. A historian by training, Millery's interests also focus on poetry and film. He is the author of "Release: Race, Love, Jazz" (2003) and has just published his latest book, "From Douglass to Duvalier" (2010). Join the discussion, book signing and live music performed by Obed Jean-Louis which will be accompanied with refreshments.  This is event is free but seating is limited so RSVP at:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: W.C. Handy: Father of the Blues

Here's the 9 minute documentary clip on W.C. Handy who was considered the Father of the Blues but is less remembered today when compared to other early 20th century musicians. Loui Armstrong, Ella and Bessie Smith all make an appearance in this piece on one of Harlem's great citizens of the Renaissance years. We didn't know much about Mr. Handy also and when his Strivers Row house was up for sale, we decided to do some research.

☞ DWELL: 232 West 139th Street Townhouse

Another Strivers Row house has appeared on the market in the last couple of weeks which seems to have quite an interesting background.  The 17 foot wide, 2,715 square foot home at 232 west 139th (ACP/7th and FDB/8th) is technically a 4-family building and once belonged to W.C. Handy who was also known as the "Father of the Blues." This one looks like it needs a full renovation but has some original details mixed in with a few seriously budget finishings i.e. the kitchen.   Asking price starts at $995K for the fixer-upper that is about 5 blocks away from St. Nicholas Park and the subway.  With that said, there's not too much to choose from in the area but the garage out back might make that fact insignificant.  The block is one of Harlem's most historic and beautiful so the house might be worth all the trouble to fix up for the right buyer.

☞ EAT: The Harlem Tavern Update 2011

We noticed that it's been pretty quiet around the Harlem Tavern construction site and a reader had inquired on what was happening with the under-construction-eatery at 116th and FDB.  There's been some funky new graffiti up on the blue plywood as of late but that pretty much is all the action that anyone has seen in the past month.  The original Winter 2011 opening date will probably not be happening at this rate and we did a little research to see if there had been any paperwork issues.

Base on the DOB website, there was a Stop Work Order placed on the construction site at the beginning of December and the issue was calendared to be resolved this past Sunday. Apparently the structural integrity of the next door building's foundation (last photo) during the excavation work needed to be explored further and the DOB just gave the green light on Monday to partially rescind the SWO for pit tests. There basically wasn't any work going on for about six weeks and now it looks like some progress might be happening in the next month. As far as opening dates are concerned, we are kind of thinking early summer might be a better bet. Check out our past post for full details on the Harlem Tavern: LINK

☞ SEE: The Digital Diaspora at Harlem Stage

Sunday, February 27th, 3:00 PM at the Gatehouse Theater, 150 Convent Avenue at 135th Street. Harlem Stage will host documentary filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris' latest creation, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion - a new participatory multimedia initiative where audiences bring history to life through their photographic images and stories. Bring your photo albums, pictures and mementos to Harlem Stage on February 23nd through 25th and share your family stories as part of the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow. Then gather for the special Live Event at Harlem Stage on Sunday to celebrate Harlem's Hidden History.  More details can be found at the Harlem Stage site: LINK. There's also a story on the event in yesterday's New York Times: LINK

☞ MEET: The Harlem Book Tour at HSA

Wednesday, February 23rd, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM at Harlem School of the Arts, 645 St. Nicholas Avenue (just north of 141st Street).  Author Jonathan Gill will be at the Harlem School of the Arts tonight to talk about the release of his comprehensive book on the 400 year history of Harlem.  There will also be a performance by Our Better Angels and the Harlem School of the Arts Students as part of the event.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

☞ DWELL: 233 West 113th Street Sold in January

When the 16 foot wide townhouse located east of FDB/8th on 113th Street went up on the market in early fall of 2009, we thought it would be one of those buildings that would sit on the market for some time since it needed so much work and the price was on the high side. The original asking price was an ambitious $1.379 million for a 2-family home which had details but lacked any upgrades to its infrastructure (it's the orange brick house to the far left of the top photo).  There was also the case of the government-owned tenement housing facing the backyard which had been bricked up for several years and might have turned off some potential home buyers. A neighboring house at number 221 needed the same amount of work done to it sold last year within 5 months and received the full asking price of $975K.  So how much did this townhouse with great bones but in need of a thorough renovation go for?  Public records now show the final sale price landed at $1.35 million.  Thoughts?

☞ BESPOKE: A Cheap East Harlem Designer Reno

Apartment Therapy just posted a story on a couple of renters in Spanish Harlem that decorated their apartment with furniture and art on a budget.  That massive yellow origami sculpture is made of poster board and staples which costed just $5 for supplies.  The rest of the stuff like the table is made of reclaimed church floor planks and the only other tool used for the project was a drill. Bookshelves in the background are all constructed of pipes from the Home Depot and lumberyard wood.  We're not sure if these guys are going into the reclaimed furniture business but it sure looks like there might be a future business for them to explore after having this media exposure: LINK.  If there are any other creative types with a similar story in Harlem, drop us a line at:

☞ EAT: Levain Bakery Delayed One Week

The announced opening date for Levain Bakery on FDB/8th Avenue (north of 116th) was today but we just received a photo showing that next week is now the set date. This famed Upper West Side purveyor of gargantuan cookies has been planning to open up in South Harlem for the past several months and a door sign a few weeks ago announced that February 22nd was the debut date: LINK.  The sign posted up today in the second photo now has everyone waiting until March 1st to see what all the fuss is about.