Wednesday, August 31, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: East Harlem PS 72 circa 1963

Most of the old vintage photos of Harlem architecture have been taken in the early part of the 20th century so it is interesting to see a few images from 1950s or 1960s pop up.  The above archival shot shows Lexington Avenue at East 105th Street in 1963 and one can see the old PS 72 building holding court on the block but with a different facade outlook than today.  From the top image, one can see that the building had been painted a lighter hue at this time period and some of the paint appears to have been chipping off.  New York City made the school building an official landmark back in 1996 and the facade now has its original red brick surface restored (lower photo) which is probably the way it look when first constructed back in 1882.  PS 72 is no longer used as a school these days and is now called the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center: LINK

Lexington Avenue and 105th Street, August 1963, via the Digital Collection at the Museum of the City of New York.

☞ DWELL: 222 West 132nd Street in Contract

The house at 222 West 132nd Street (beige townhouse at top photo) has gone into contract after being on the market for a little over 5 months at the asking price of $850K.  This block is another one of those brownstone neighborhoods that is intact in Central Harlem but has quite a few shells or homes that need a little update. Listed as a short sale, this property pretty much has moderate finishes on the interior. More photos after the jump

☞ REVIVE: The Manhattanville Bus Depot

What could possibly be one of the most aesthetically challenged buildings in the city may disappear soon as the demolition for the Manhattanville Campus of Columbia reaches the far west edge of 12th Avenue.  The Manhattanville Bus Depot can be seen in all of its glory at the top photo as a monolithic structure that straddles the majority of the block between 132nd and 133rd Street.  Walking by the area in the past week, one will find that scaffolding is slowly creeping up the side of the building even though the station itself is still being used. Maps of the planned campus do show that this building will indeed be demolished for the second phase of the project to arrive and this is one structure that nobody will probably miss: LINK.  The big question is will it go down sooner than later or is this just maintenance on the current building.

☞ WALK: Mahatma Gandhi Health & Peace Walk

October 2nd, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM,  Second Annual Mahatma Gandhi Health and Peace Walk at Marcus Garvey Park. Organizers of the walk have the goal to encourage people to follow the example of Mahatma Gandhi and walk regularly to enhance their wellness, and fight their risk of diabetes and heart disease which are significant issues in Harlem. The slogan for the Walk is: 'In His Footsteps--For Your Health."

This Walk is a free public health initiative organized by a local resident Rahul Sur and has the support of the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association.  Get more information and register online at:

☞ READ: Victoria Theater Project Proceeds

This morning's New York Times article reports that the Victoria Theater development project by Danforth Development Partners will now proceed again once more due to finally securing new equity. The theater design by Thomas W. Lamb on West 125th Street was built in 1917 and its restoration stalled back in 2007 when the real estate market became unstable.  Much needed financing was therefore not secured in the past years but that story has now changed.

Now the $100 million endeavor to add two towers to the building has started up again and location will house several Harlem institutions. One will be a 140-unit rental building while the other will house a 175-unit hotel.  Apparently all major hotels have now reviewed the site and the Starwood company that developed the Harlem Aloft hotel has mentioned that they are considering the location for another hotel brand (but the article does not mention W Hotel of which Starwood is known for).  The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Jazzmobile, the Harlem Arts Alliance along with the Apollo Theater Foundation will eventually establish new offices in this adaptive reuse project and ground breaking will happen sometimes in the middle of 2012. Read more about the ongoing revival at 125th Street in the New York Times: LINK

The lower photos shows a rejected design proposal by RD Management at left and an original rendering associated with Danforth Development Partners at right.  The article mentions that the chosen architects have not completed the design yet and the final plan will be presented this fall.  On a side note, the glass additions usually turn out less heavy handed in this type of high rise tower and ultimately less imposing on details of the original base structure.  Let's hope for a better rendering to appear in the next few months.

☞ LISTEN: Live@1220 Fifth at MCNY

Wednesday, August 31st, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM, LIVE@1220 FIFTH at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street. The Live@1220 Fifth music series on the Museum's Fifth Avenue Terrace will have it last performance for the year tonight. This Wednesday's live music will feature the Funk and Soul sounds of Carla Scott. Tickets at $15 also includes admission to the museum and complimentary cocktail: LINK

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Morningside Park Stairs c. 1889

A photo from 1889 shows what appears to be a just completed Morningside Park that does not even have trees planted.  The 116th stairs apparently had just been finished but the park itself looked like it needed a lot more work to get it to a more natural state.  In the distance, one can see that Manhattan Avenue had been pretty built up at the time but Morninside Avenue itself still had open plots of land. As can be seen in the more current photo, tall trees line hill of the park and provide plenty of shade for the South Harlem outdoor green space.

116th Street Stairs, Morningside Park, 1889 via the Digital Collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 143 West 126th Street Brownstone

The house at 143 West 126th Street has been on the market since April and the 5-unit building is currently set at $1.25 million.  At only 15 foot wide, the building is not the largest one out there but the gut renovation of the interior looks pretty impressive for a rental. More photos after the jump.

☞ INTRODUCING: Green Boulevards in Harlem

A very green aesthetic has been appearing in Harlem since many of the new shops and restaurants along the boulevard have been making sure that their storefronts and cafes are verdant for the season. Harlem Flo on FDB/8th Avenue brought it on before anyone else with their extravagant display of flora which recently included hanging ivy (until the hurricane trimmed them down).  Even Levain Bakery's modest seating area just north of 116th Street had new additions added in the past month which transforms the concrete surrounding into a micro oasis.

Outdoor dining arrived in a big way this summer and most of the new eateries such as the Harlem Tavern, Bier International, Nectar and Lido have made sure that plants were part of the alfresco mix. Over on Lenox Avenue, Settepani, Katrina Parris, Il Caffe Latte and the Red Rooster can all be found with foliage out front of their shops. This trend is really all about the warm weather season so everyone should enjoy it while it last.

☞ REVIVE: The True Colors Residence

Gothamist had an update on the True Colors Residence that Cyndi Lauper has helped raise funds to house homeless LGBT youth and photos from the organization website shows that the building set to open on September 1st is just about complete: LINK.  This new construction on West 154th Street will house residents ages 18-24 based on their income levels and addresses a startling statistic that 40% of homeless youth in New York City are LGBT. Read more about the safe haven built in Central Harlem over at Gothamist: LINK

☞ SEE: The Harlem Chamber Players

Sunday, September 18th, at 3:00 PM, Season Opening Concert for the Harlem Chamber Players, St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 521 West 126th Street, Between Broadway and Amsterdam.  The Harlem Chamber Players will debut for the Fall 2011 season with a program that will include Mozart String Quintet in B-flat Major, K. 174, Brahms Songs, Op. 91 for Mezzo-Soprano, Viola and Piano, and Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115.  Tickets are $15 General Admission $10 Seniors/Students. This event will be hosted by Manhattanville historian Eric K. Washington.  More details and ticket purchase can be found at the classical group's site: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Jimmy Heath at Grant's Tomb

Wednesday, August 31st, 7:00 PM-8:30 PM, Jazzmobile at Grant's Tomb, Riverside Drive and 122nd Street. The Jazzmobile's free summer concerts finishes up for the season over at Grant's Tomb with a performance by Jimmy Heath. Those who do not want to sit on concrete should bring their own seating or blankets. More on the schedule at the Jazzmobile site: LINK

Monday, August 29, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Loew's Theatre Circa 1959

An image from 1959 shows the Loew's Theatre at 7th Avenue and 124th Street with all of its original details intact.  The theater was built in the 1890s and was originally the Harlem Casino before converting into a movie palace.  A church took over sometimes in the 1960s and the facade would go into a modern transformation indicative of that decade.  See our past post for more details on the former theater today: LINK

Northeast Corner of 7th Avenue and 124th Street, Summer 1959 via the digital collection at The Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 259 West 136th Street Sold in August

The 17 foot wide townhouse at 259 West 136th Street has been on the market for a couple of years now and the property finally sold this August.  DOB records show that the building had formerly been an SRO but a Certificate of Non Harassment was reportedly in place for this property on one of the lesser known complete brownstone blocks of  Central Harlem.  Initial asking prices started out at $1.89 million for the 3,700 square foot abode, went down to $1.35 million by the end of 2010 and would eventually landed at $990K in May of this year.  Interiors look to have been moderately renovated on this one and the last asking price appears to have been more accurate since the final sales ended up at $925K according to public records.

☞ EAT: Burger to Replace Muddy Waters

The Muddy Waters Cafe at ACP/7th Avenue and 129th Street has apparently shuttered as the above photo sent in from a local tipster shows.  What should have been a welcome addition to the Central Harlem location never really took off when it opened in 2009 and now the storefront will start selling burgers sometimes in the near future. BURGER appears to be the name of the new establishment set to open in Spring 2012 but we could not find any permits in reference to the proposed eatery. Any other tips out there?

☞ LISTEN: Gospel For Teens in Harlem

The above is the recent 60 Minute story on one woman who opens the doors of her Harlem brownstone to keep the Gospel tradition alive with today's teens.  Vy Higginsen is a local radio personality that started Gospel For Teens which attracts rising talent from uptown and also newcomers from the Bronx, Brooklyn and even New Jersey. The inspirational video takes a bit of time to watch but shows what one person can do out of their own home to bring something back to the community. Read more at the 60 Minute site: LINK

☞ WALK: Trees Down at Marcus Garvey Park

Hurricane Irene had everyone in Harlem indoors this past weekend but a Harlem Bespoke reader went out on Sunday to take dramatic photos of the damage at Marcus Garvey Park.  Even though the flooding was not as great as expected in the city, the winds really did a number on the larger trees around town. As can be seen in the above images, some of the older trees had branches split into many sections and even were uprooted.  The city had workers out clearing everything up yesterday and it appears that nobody got hurt from any of the falling branches of the late summer hurricane.

☞ SEE: Seed at The National Black Theatre

The OBIE award-winning Classical Theatre of Harlem in conjunction with Hip-Hop Theater Festival who will present the world and Off-Broadway premiere of SEED, an award-winning play written by Radha Blank and directed by Niegel Smith, at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. Previews begin Tuesday, September 6 and Opening Night is slated for Friday, September 16th. The show runs through October 9th at the Harlem theater located on 2031 Fifth Avenue, between 125th and 126th Street.

SEED explores themes of abandonment, poverty, class differences and byproducts of the crack epidemic that swept through Harlem in the 1980s and 90s. It tells the story in a vibrant and exciting style, infused with rhythm and verse integral to hip-hop culture. As a compelling new drama that examines class and cultural fault lines in one of America’s most prominent Black communities.

Friday, August 26, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: The Cozy Nook circa 1915

The above image is that of a cottage that apparently sat up in West Harlem sometimes around 1915.  Upper West Harlem appears to have taken little more time to develop as one can see from the photo taken at 140th Street and Broadway.  In modern times, this corner of Harlem is lined by prewar buildings on either side of the avenue and most of the wood frame houses have been replaced by brownstones on the side streets.

"Cozy Nook" ca. 1915 via the digital gallery at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 518 West 149th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Saturday, August 27th, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM.  Number 518 West 149th Street  in Hamilton Heights is just up on the market for the initial asking price of $1.575 million and the 3-family house looks to be move in ready.  More interior photos after the jump.

☞ ARCHITECTURE: Update on Splash House

The Parsons Design Workshop team of graduate students raised enough money a couple of months back for the material cost of the Splash House at the Highbridge pool in Washington Heights and things look to be progressing along nicely.  Current photos after the jump.

☞ REVIVE: The Old Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Building

UPDATE: added the lower photo which shows that the building has completely been demolished. 

Demolition over at 12th Avenue and 131st Street has begun as the Manhattanville campus makes progress and that means that the original location of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is going down. The old gritty warehouse space was transformed to uptown's best BBQ joint years ago before much of anything had arrived in Manhattanville and proved that the right business could work in the area.  Walking by the building over week ago, we found the telltale scaffolding up so it is only a matter of time before all will be gone. A new location with the same ambiance opened just down the avenue at 125th Street this past year so the business is still in the industrial neighborhood. The 12th Avenue side of this section of Manhattanville is the furthest west border of the new campus and these buildings will be one of the last ones to go before new construction arrives.

☞ REMEMBER: Nick Ashford Funeral in Harlem

Music legend Nick Ashford of the group Ashford and Simpson passed away this week at the age of 70 and the funeral will be in Harlem on Saturday.  History has it that Mr. Ashford met his songwriting partner Valerie Simpson at a Harlem Church when he was a homeless newcomer to the city and he will now be remembered uptown at the Abyssinian Baptist Church on West 138th Street.  More details on the funeral at NY1: LINK. UPDATE: Because of the hurricane, the service took place on the following Monday.

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Friday, August 26th, 2:30PM-5:30PM, El Barrio Festival block party at the Silberman School of Social Work, 2180 Third Avenue at 119th Street. The new Hunter College East Harlem campus is celebrating with a block party this Friday with the band Los Pleneros De La 21 and Machete Movement along with art on display and for sale by local Caribbean, as well as representation from some of East Harlem's community programs. Children's games, face painting and prizes!

Friday, August 26th, 6:00-9:00 PM, Uptown Fridays at the Studio Museum, 144 West 125th Street between Lenox and ACP/7th.  The Studio Museums Friday summer party in its courtyard feature music, cocktails and invites guests to check out the current exhibits: LINK

Saturday, August 27th, 8:00 AM-4:00 PM, Mount Morris Park Historic District Farmers Market is open for the season at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue: LINK

Saturdays, August 27th, 9:00 AM-10:00 AM, Free Weekend Morning Yoga Classes at the Harlem Meer, 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Lenox. Harlem Yoga Studio Saturday session at Central Park North's Harlem Meer will run through the end of August during fair weather. Bring your own mats: LINK

Saturday, August 27th, 4:00 PM-5:00 PM, Free Afternoon Yoga at Morningside Park, 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Brought to you by Land Yoga, Community Markets and Friends of Morningside Park. Bring your own yoga mat. Class will be cancelled if raining: LINK

CANCELLED: Saturday, August 27th,3:00 PM, The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Marcus Garvey Park, Fifth Avenue and West 122nd Street. The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival annually assembles some of the finest musicians in the world who reflect Parker’s musical individuality and genius, to promote appreciation for this highly influential and world-renowned artist. More details on this annual event can be found at the Harlem Stage site: LINK

Thursday, August 25, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: 9 Mile Stone at St. Nicholas Park

A photo taken by 133rd Street and St. Nicholas Park in 1955 shows a couple of interesting landmarks that do not exist today.  The information on the archival material just mentions that the above was the 9 mile stone within St. Nicholas Park but we have not found much else about its significance.  There also appears to be some sort of cottage in the background which makes things even more confusing. A playground now sits on this section of St. Nicholas Park today where the above photo was apparently taken decades ago.

9 mile stone, in St. Nicholas Park, ca. 1955, Via The City of the Museum of New York Digital Collection

☞ DWELL: The Capstone Condos

We have been watching the construction of the new building at 461 West 150th Street in Hamilton Heights for over a year now and it has been announced that the condo development has been named the Capstone.  The only information about the building was originally from the architect's website which confirms that the 12-unit new construction has 11,500 square foot in total and includes an elevator. Now photos (renderings?) have been released of the interior and can be seen after the jump.

☞ READ: Mixed-Income for Randolph Houses

The old tenement buildings that are owned by NYCHA on 114th Street in South Harlem have been abandoned for years but now definitive news has been announced about their future.  Reports had it that the buildings just east of FDB/8th Avenue would be torn down for new development but surprisingly the south side of the block has been landmarked to prevent such action.  According to a WNYC article, the cash-strapped NYCHA has apparently worked out a deal where 140 of the 295 apartments will remain public housing and the rest will be privately owned affordable units.  Architectural details are planned to be restored on the facade and expect the project to be finished in two and a half years: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 306-308 West 116th Tops Off

The new construction at 306-308 West 116th Street appears to have topped off in recent weeks but the development does not look like any previous sketches that have been proposed for the site.  Work had just started back in March on the reported 14-unit building just west of FDB/8th Avenue and things have been moving rather quickly since then.  The second image down shows the building designs marketed for the land and the modernist rending in the third image was something drawn up back in 2006 by architectural firm Grywinski Pons.  Comparing all photos, the only thing that slightly matches is the vertical rectangular structure on the roof which is the same as the Grwinski Pons rendering.  Elements that are completely different include balconies on the lower facade and a pyramidal step back of levels on the top floors. More details on this new construction can be found in our past post: LINK

☞ EAT: Dueling Patsy's Settle in Court

Patsy's Pizzeria over at First Avenue and East 118th Street has been around for decades but there has been a name dispute with a Patsy's restaurant in midtown which apparently has come to an end. According to the New York Post, the problem started when jars of red sauce started appearing on supermarket shelves labeled under the singular name of Patsy's.  An offshoot of the pizzeria had marketed the brand of Italian gravy but the midtown restaurant that Sinatra was known to frequent was not so happy about it.  So now a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling has basically agreed that neither restaurants have rights to "claim the one-word moniker." More in the New York Post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Wicliffe Gordon & Within Our Gates

Friday, August 26th, at 8:00 PM, Within Our Gates Screenin at Miller Theater at Columbia University School of the Arts, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street. Jazzmobile, Inc., the Harlem-based organization that pioneered the concept of bringing jazz into the community and creating new audiences with mobile jazz performances, commissioned acclaimed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon to create a 78-minute original score to Oscar Micheaux’s 1920 silent film, Within Our Gates. Hear how Gordon masterfully captures the essence, culture, and historical significance of the film in stunning composition at the premier of Within Our Gates, screened and performed live with an 18-piece orchestra and two guest vocalists.

The film will be followed by a conversation and Q. & A. session with the composer. Admission to the screening and performance is free; however, reservations are recommended by calling (212) 866-4900, extension 307.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Patsys Seafood Lunch c. 1944

Another busy Harlem street scene from 1944 shows the fashion of the day and some of the shops along the boulevard.  The most notable eatery in the above image is Patsys Seafood Lunch which apparently offered 10 and 15 cent specials.  As far as the fashions of the day goes, folks probably held on to clothes a little longer in the Depression years so cloche hats and the A-line silhouette of the 1920s appear to still be present at the time. Click on image to enlarge.

Archival photo courtesy of the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 27 East 126th Street in Contract

A 17 foot wide brownstone located on the block that the famous jazz photo "A Great Day in Harlem" was taken on is in contract as of this past Spring.  Nothing has closed yet on the 9-unit building located just west of Madison Avenue and apparently No. 27 East 126th Street is a fixer-upper.  Check out the detailed interior after the jump.

☞ REVIVE: CUNY Science Building Gets Glass

The new $300 million CUNY Advanced Science and Reasearch Center on top of St. Nicholas Park and 133rd Street has started to get some glass up on the west side of the new construction. In the design images from Flad Architects/Kohn Pedersen Fox, the view is looking at the east side of the construction directly over the the park but that side apparently will be the last portion to finish up with windows.  The only clear view of the west side of the development located at the City College campus is on the 125th Street train platform at Broadway and one can see the building clearly because of the of its prominent positioning on one of the hills of Harlem.

☞ SHOP: West 112th Newsstand Up for Lease

We always thought that the vacant old newsstand just east of FDB/8th Avenue at 112th Street would just be phased out eventually but apparently it is available for anyone that wants to start up a business. Walking by the corner in recent weeks, one might notice that a lease sign has been placed up on the shabby shack that could need a little love on the exterior.  What could possibly the monthly rent for one of these old kiosk? Click on image to enlarge.

☞ EXERCISE: Planet Fitness Opens on 125th

Planet Fitness had construction started on a second Harlem branch and now it looks like that location between ACP/7th and FDB/8th has now been completed.  Walking by the newly renovated second floor storefront this week, one will notice that a big OPEN sign has been placed up on the front window. This chain is significantly cheaper than the other sports clubs in the city so those looking for a deal should check it out. The other Planet Fitness is located at Lenox and 126th Street and is apparently doing very well.

☞ LISTEN: Live@1220 Fifth at MCNY

Wednesday, August 24th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM, LIVE@1220 FIFTH at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street. Live@1220 Fifth is a music series on the Museum's Fifth Avenue Terrace every Wednesday through August 31. This Wednesday's live music will feature DJ Devon Craig Johnson. Tickets at $15 also includes admission to the museum and complimentary cocktail: LINK