Wednesday, November 30, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Wallpaper & Drapes circa 1912

A photo from 1912 shows the diversity of finishes used in a typical Central Harlem brownstone. Walls are noticeable covered with two patterns of wallpaper, the floors adorned with a patterned rug and all entry ways have jacquard drapes with a bucolic country motif woven into them. The only uncovered surface can be found in the mirror at the left of the photo which is large enough to mimic another portal.

Wurts Bros., New York, NY, 162 West 132nd Street, Wurts residence parlor ca. 1912 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 74 East 119th Sold in November

Number 74 East 119th Street was up on the market back in June for the initial asking price of $1.2 million, went into contract 2 months later and now appears to have been sold. This townhouse located between Madison and Park Avenue and was built back in 2001 when the East Harlem block was apparently restored with similar townhouses but will the modern-meets-classic building get close to the asking price based on the interior?

☞ EAT: El Aguila Replaces La Fonda Mexican

The art deco diner which was converted into La Fonda Mexican restaurant was shuttered this past summer and now a new eatery has secured the space at East 103rd Street.  As can be seen in the lower photo, the bright red and yellow signage up at the corner diner space has now announced that a new Mexican restaurant will be arriving. El Aguila already has a strong presence on East 116th Street but the lower photo shows that the restaurant which was voted as one of the best taco joints uptown has now decided to expand to this lower Lexington Avenue location: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 465 West 147th Street in the News

A Sugar Hill townhouse that was foreclosed and taken over by squatter made local news because of neighborhood complaints. Most have cast the blame on the bank that foreclosed on the West Harlem property a few years back but that institution was not able to maintain the townhouse because of the squatter situation.  As fate would have it, a recent fire to the building has forced the illegal house guests from the property and now the townhouse will finally get its much needed renovation for an eventual sale. More details can be found on the NBC New York site: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Avery*Sunshine at the Apollo Cafe

Friday, December 2nd, 10:00 PM, Avery*Sunshine at the Apollo Music Cafe, 253 West 125th Street. The Apollo Music Café is Harlem’s new night spot where music genres from the Apollo’s heritage in a stylized lounge space.

Combining beautifully soulful melodies, with a touch of jazz and more than a little earthy gospel, Atlanta songstress Avery*Sunshine infuses both originals and tracks of the past with a fresh, newly polished and contemporary perspective. Curated by Lisa Yancey. Advance Tickets for $15 may be purchased at the Apollo Box Office or via Ticketmaster: 800.745.3000 or  More details at the Apollo website: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: The Green Your Block Program

The Manhattan Borough Pressident's Office has partnered with the Department of Parks and Recreation to increase funding for local groups to green their neighborhoods.  A limited amount of funding is available for the installation of tree guards that will be installed on a block-wide basis.  All Manhattan Block Associations, civic and community groups are encouraged to submit application to build a stronger and greener community.

Visit the MBPO Green Your Block Program website for more information and application: LINK

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Metropolitan Baptist circa 1890

An old photo of today's Metropolitan Baptist Church at 128th Street shows the building on the corner of ACP/7th Avenue before it was finished back in 1890.  The house of worship with the substantial semi-conical roof was originally the New York Presbyterian Church when the archival photo was taken and the lower photo shows the building today with the notable additions added on to the avenue side.

Metropolitan Baptist Church, 128th Street and 7th Ave, ca.1890 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 8 East 127th Street Brownstone

The new brownstone up on the mark at 8 east 127th Street is just around the corner from Fifth Avenue and technically in East Harlem so will the $1.85 million initial asking price attract a buyer?  This 20 foot wide building meets the golden standard for a larger size townhouse and is really closer to one of the more preserved blocks of Central Harlem. But what does the interior look like?

☞ SHOP: Back at Auberge Laurent

More signs of progress at Auberge Laurent can be seen in the past week since new decorative details have started to appear in the windows.  The wine lounge with petit plates at 200 Lenox does not have a set open date yet but the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association will be having their annual holiday gala at the space next Thursday: LINK.  As far as the storefront appearances goes, it seems that this particular look has not offended anyone but the name did have to be changed at one point because of some community concerns: LINK.  Does anyone know if the space will be open before the new year?

☞ READ: Second Avenue Subway Art

The tunnel for the Second Avenue Subway has finished up drilling to the 96th Street location on the east side and a Wall Street Journal article details the artwork that will be installed in the next coming years. At the 96th Street Station on the border of East Harlem, line drawings glazed on to ceramic tiles (above rendering) have been selected to cover the walls and historic photographs of the Second Avenue elevated train will adorn the station on 63rd Street.  Harlem artist Xenobia Bailey was chosen not for the East Harlem station but will have a mosaic of celestial orbs decorating the new 7 line extension at the 34th Street.

As far as completion dates go, the subway itself will not be fully running until 2016 but the midtown 7 train extension will be in operation by 2013.  There is still one more station that has not been assigned artwork which costs up to $1 million to install so all artists are now invited to submit design for the 72nd Street station to the MTA.  Read more in the Journal: LINK

☞ EAT: Harleys Smoke Shack Ready to Open

We just received notice from the owner of Harleys Smoke Shack in East Harlem and the BBQ joint is set to open sometimes next week or so. Those interested in getting some work at the new establishment should head over this Tuesday and Wednesday from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM at 355 East 116th Street to apply for various positions.  This section of East Harlem close to the corner of 1st Avenue does not really have a lot of Southern barbecue so this new eatery should be off to a good start once they open.

☞ INTRODUCING: Molton Brown at Harlem Flo

Thursday, December 1st, 5:00 PM-8:00PM, Holiday Shopping Event with Molton Brown at Harlem Flo, 2276 FDB/8th Avenue at 122nd Street. Harlem Flo lifestyle boutique hosts an evening of shopping with London based beauty and home fragrance brand Molton Brown. Enjoy complimentary hand and arm massages and private consultations from Molton Brown Madison Avenue store experts. For more information, contact: 212.316.1525

Monday, November 28, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: 149th and St. Nicholas circa 1910

A photo of St. Nicholas Avenue at the corner of 149th Street from 1910 shows the residential nature of the brownstone apartment complexes lining the avenue at this part of West Harlem. The lower photo shows the buildings that are pretty much intact today but do not have functional window awnings that were popular a century ago.  A corner store facing 149th Street also lost its decorative woodwork long ago and has recently been replaced by the ubiquitous stamped steel gourmet deli.

Thaddeus Wilkerson, N.W. Cor. St. Nicholas Ave and 149th St. ca. 1910 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 529 West 142nd Street in Contract

Number 529 West 142nd Street (far left of the above photo) arrived on the market in September and just went into contract last week.  An initial asking price of $999K seems to have attracted a buyer interested in the 20 foot wide, 4,399 square foot wide townhouse in Hamilton Heights.  Interior photos after the jump.

☞ SHOP: Update at 183 Lenox Avenue

UPDATE: Apparently the Landmarks Preservation Commission has stepped in and asked the shop owner to comply with the approval process in this landmark building. The Mount Morris Park Historic District's newest shop has been getting a lot of negative attention for having a storefront incongruent with the landmark neighborhood and it appears that the city has stepped in as of last Friday.  A reader sent in the lower photo today showing a stop work order on the wine and liquor store at the corner of 119th Street and Lenox and one can probably assume the action was taken after the local neighbors and community boards filed an extensive complaint early last week to city officials.  There is no mention of the Landmark Preservation Commission but apparently some unsafe conditions were pointed out that has now stalled further progress on the controversial facade.

☞ REVIVE: A New Look at 2159 Fifth Avenue

An old building which formerly had cinder blocks in the window along with a crumbling facade has apparently been restored at the corner of 132nd Street and Fifth Avenue.  The top photo is of 2159 Fifth Avenue over a year ago when the old tenement looked like it was on its last leg.  A reader sent in the lower photo which shows the facade in the past week with a fresh new look.  New windows appear to be all in place and the brickwork has been repointed along with white painted ornamental detailing. The original cornice was not replaced but at least a bronze color strip was added on top to finish things off. DOB permits show that the apartment building originally had 9 units in total but now there will be 12 units available once all is finished up. This seems like a lot of attention to detail for just a rental building but anything to make this corner look better would probably help out with getting the property occupied.

☞ SEE: Holiday Lights at the Harlem Meer

Sunday, December 4th, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM (rain or shine), Holiday Lighting in Central Park at the Harlem Meer, Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (inside Central Park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues).  The annual holiday lighting at the Harlem Meer's victorian boathouse will be this weekend and will include caroling and even an appearance by Santa. Get more details for this free event at the Harlem Meer's official site: LINK

☞ MEET: The Harlem Shambles Grand Opening

Thursday, December 1st, 6:00PM-9:00PM, The Harlem Shambles Grand Opening, 2141 FDB/8th Avenue and 115th Street.  South Harlem's new artisanal butcher shop will have its grand opening this Thursday and some of the local eateries will be on hand serving up dishes made from the grass fed offerings of the new business.  Interestingly enough, the yet-to-open Vinateria appears to be one of the restaurants that will be at the event so expect another opening on lower FDB in the future.  For more on the Harlem Shambles, check out the recent Zagat article which has a photo of the bespoke butchers at work donning their pork pie hats: LINK.   Read about the forthcoming Vinateria wine bar in our past post: LINK

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Thanksgiving Day Parade c. 1932

The above archival photo shows the Thanksgiving Day Parade circa 1932 around Columbus Circle but many might not have known that in those early years, the balloons actually started out Harlem. An article in the New York Post traces back to the first parade in 1924 and how the route started in Harlem before winding down Broadway until it reached Herald Square.  All of the original balloons were supplied by the Goodyear rubber company and were instantly a success with the crowds.  Read more about this annual New York event in the Post: LINK.  Does anyone know when the route was eventually diverted from Harlem?  Photo courtesy NYPL

☞ DWELL: 88 Morningside at 75 Percent

South Harlem development 88 Morningside is at the 75% sold mark based on a press release this week.  This includes past closing and contracts that are currently out at the 12-story residential building located on the corner of Morningside Avenue and West 122nd Street.  The new construction which faces Morningside Park has remaining units which include one-bedroom, one-bathroom and one-bedroom, two-bathroom homes from $355,000 - $575,000. Streeteasy shows that the development has 10 contracts out and 14 units currently available: LINK. More details can be found at:

☞ EAT: Agua Fresca in the Times

The New York Times walks over to the east side of Harlem and checks out the Mexican flavors of Agua Fresca over at 207 East 117th Street at Third Avenue.  Resident chef Adrian Leon hails from Mexico City but comes up with new ways of combining traditional flavors that are not all that common in many of the uptown establishments.  Tacos are accented with braised beef tongue alongside grilled onions or shrimp and pineapple which tend to be combination not found on the more mainstream 116th Street Mexican corridor.  Mexican beers, South American wines and the namesake agua fresca are also served daily and makes this newish eatery one to look out for on the east side.  Read more of the review in the New York Times: LINK

☞ REVIVE: What's Up with 335 Lenox?

Activity had been seen around 335 Lenox in the past month and now a plywood fence has been constructed around the ground floor.  So what's going on with this corner storefront at West 127th Street in Central Harlem?  Based on the permits that have gone up, it appears that all of the vacant store spaces and cellars are getting a bit of a makeover which includes HVAC systems and a one story office space.  This entire block from 126th to 127th has had store renovations happening since the summer so expect more openings in the by the new year. As for the strange front doors on each of the fire escapes, it appears those are here to stay.

☞ INTRODUCING: Free Turkey Dinner at SIP

Thursday, November 24th, 4:00 PM, Free Turkey Dinner at Sip, 998 Amsterdam Avenue, Between 109th & 110th Sts. For the past 5 Thanksgivings, Sip has been providing free dinners for those who cannot be with their loved ones during the holiday. Come through and eat and share good times with new friends. It's pot luck also, so bring a dish or a dessert to add to the feast! Feast begins after 4pm until the food's all gone: LINK

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: 123rd and Broadway circa 1910

A photo from 1910 shows the intersection of Broadway and 123rd Street as it was originally planned a century ago.  The fancy prewar buildings with their decorative elements would be considered slums towards the mid 20th century and several blocks were demolished from this corner up to 125th Street to form the Morningside Gardens and Grant Houses as part towers in the park model of housing set in motion at that point in history.  At the far left, one can see the wall that separates the 1 train as it ascends from its underground tunnel.

Thaddeus Wilkerson, Broadway north from 123rd Street, ca. 1910 via the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 233 West 139th Street Townhouse

One of the McKim, Mead and White designed townhouses along Strivers Row in Central Harlem is up for sale and looks to be in pretty good condition for the asking of $1.625 million.  The single-family house is a generous 19.25 foot wide, appears to have all the original details intact, has roughly 4,064 square foot of interior space and a garage out back.  These striver rows property usually don't have a back yard since the garage spaces take over that part of the plot but some of them do have decks built on top of those former carriage houses.  Deck photos are lacking on the broker site (and thus may be lacking in general) but more interior images can be found: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 1635 Lexington Revealed

The glass and metal elements of the the development formerly called The Glass Spire have been covered for most of the year with scaffolding so we decided to see if any more progress has been made on the reported 42-unit development.  Number 1635 Lexington Avenue is just north of 103rd Street in East Harlem and the original design sketch had a lot of mix materials in place and a very notable glass spike that was located towards the north side of the new construction.  Check out the reveal after the jump.

☞ EAT: Sweet Chef Southern Styles Bakery

Thanksgiving is around the corner and The Daily News covers the uptown bakeries to get that freshly backed pie for the holiday: LINK.  One of our favorite mom and pop establishments in West Harlem is featured in the article and so we decided to repost our review of the bakery from a couple of years ago:

The little pie and cake shop tucked away at 122 Hamilton Place is one gem of a bakery. Hidden away on this quiet corner or Hamilton Heights, one will find the little striped awning at the store front and a cozy, bricked wall interior with pies and cakes on display. What's most striking upon first entering the bakery is that of the baked, buttery pie crust aromas throughout the shop. This great little store actually feels like a small-town bakery, so it's a very charming establishment to have around for folks in the neighborhood. There are some smaller take-out orders, such as cookies and banana pudding, but the next time you have a need for that sweet potato pie or a home-style birthday cake, this is the place to be. Sweet Chef Southern Styles Bakery is at 122 Hamilton Place, between 141st and 142nd Street. Tel: (212) 862-5909.

☞ LISTEN: Harlem Chamber Players & Opus 118

Saturday, December 10th,  6:00 PM,  Winter Holiday Concert at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street, Between Broadway and Amsterdam.  The Harlem Chamber Players will have the students from Opus 118 as part of the Winter Holiday Concert in December.

The program will include Arcangelo Corelli Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 "Christmas Concerto" and feature Joshua Kail, Amanda Negron, Nshiyra Korankyi, solo violinists from Opus 118 Harlem School of Music; Monica Davis, Cecelia Hobbs Gardner, Jessie Montgomery, violins; Adam Hill, viola; Lawrence Zoernig, cello from The Harlem Chamber Players with violin ensembles and faculty from Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. Tickets at $15 General Admission $10 Seniors/Students can be purchased at the day of the event.  More details on the Harlem Chamber Players site: LINK

☞ MEET: The MMPCIA Holiday 2011 Gala

Thursday, December 8th, 7:00 to 10:00 PM, The MMPCIA Holiday Gala & Fundraiser at Auberge Laurent, 200 Lenox Avenue and West 120th Street. Come share festivities, food & fun at the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association's annual holiday gala. Find that perfect gift* at the Online Auction and the Silent Auction** during the Gala event offering special merchandise, unique opportunities, and gift certificates generously donated by our neighbors and businesses.  Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at the door, and a toy for a child (up to age 10) or a non-perishable food item for the food pantry. More details at the MMPCIA site: LINK

Monday, November 21, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: The Majestic circa 1910

A photo of The Majestic circa 1910 shows how the cornice of a building really finishes it off.  Comparing the turn of the century image with the current state of the building, one can see that the original design was truly more majestic with its bold cornice and balustrade detail at the top of the roof.  Most would probably not look twice at this building at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue today but it was probably one of the modern marvels in Harlem 100 years ago when it was first built.

Thaddeus Wilerson, The Majestic, New York ca. 1910 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 602 West 138th Sold in October

The townhouse at 602 West 138th Street went up on the market back in mid June for the asking price of $1.1 million, went into contract in early August and now public records show that the property sold in October. This 4-family is 17-foot wide home, has about 3,700 square foot of space altogether and the condition of the interiors probably helped sell this one rather quickly.  More photos of the interior after the jump.

☞ REVIVE: 753 St. Nicholas Avenue Unwrapped

The facade at 753 St. Nicholas Avenue has had its metal details wrapped in green plastic for most of the year but some construction equipment on site recently might mean that the new condo is close to finishing up. Most of the netting and scaffolding out front of the building at 148th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue had been removed earlier on but the facade just seemed to be in the same state for several months now.  Walking by this past weekend, we noticed that the top floor has already been unwrapped and that the lift stationed outside might just be for the construction crew to finish up removing the seal from the rest of floors.

This new construction called The Nicholas is in the landmark Sugar Hill section of Hamilton Heights and will have six floors, 11,500 square foot of space and 12 units total.  There's website up already for the development with a final sketch of the exterior and a few interior renderings:

☞ SHOP: Uproar Over New Historic District Shop

When it was announced that a new wine and liquor store would arrive at 183 Lenox Avenue in the Historic District, many thought this would be a great addition to the boutique businesses in the area.  We have since received multiple messages this weekend on the actual establishment that is arriving at the corner of 119th Street and the neighbors are definitely not happy. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association has already filed a complaint with Community Board 10 who has thus started work with the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the matter.  These diamond plate, stamped steel storefronts seem to be popular elsewhere uptown but is apparently highly inappropriate for one of the most picturesque historic districts in the city.  Would this have been acceptable in the West Village's historic district?

☞ INTRODUCING: Wilson Revised

Sunday, December 4th, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM, Wilson Revised at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street. The Movement Theatre Company [TMTC] will present Wilson Revised at the Studio Museum as part of TMTC Harlem Nights. Inspired by the Studio Museum’s upcoming exhibit The Bearden Project, which celebrates the visual artwork and legacy of Romare Bearden, Wilson Revised examines the importance and impact of August Wilson, a playwright who was strongly influenced by the artist. TMTC will present a selection of excerpts from Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, as well as commission playwrights to create short works influenced by the plays. More details on this presentation can be found at:

☞ SEE: The Light It Up for Harlem Holiday Event

Monday, November 21st, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM, The Annual Light it Up for Harlem Holiday street lighting event at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Plaza, 163 West 125th Street and ACP/7th Avenue. The 125th Street BID, Harlem Park to Park and Community Boards 9, 10 and 11 have come together to host the annual street lighting event on 125th Street.

Enjoy live performances from Vy Higgensen Mama I Want to Sing and over 20 Harlem church choirs as each intersection on 125th Street is lit up with 36 Skyline Streamers for the holidays! Refreshments provided by Red Rooster, Starbucks, Tonnie's Mini's and more.

Harlem Park to Park will also launch its annual Holiday Coat and Toy Drive at this event. Donations of unused coats and toys are welcomed!  More details can be found at the 125th Street Bid site: LINK

Immediately after the event, enjoy special discounts and offers at select Harlem Park to Park businesses including:

Nectar Wine Bar, 15% off all food and drink items, 2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd at 121st Street. 212-961-9622,

Chez Lucienne,  Free cocktail or wine with Dinner, 308 Lenox Avenue at 125th Street. 212-289-5555,

Lido Harlem Hot Apple Cider w/ Whipped Cream and Nutmeg; $2 Non Alcoholic, $4 w/ Bourbon, 2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd at 117th Street. 646-490-8575,

Native Restaurant, $4 Wine or $5 Apple Martini, 161 Lenox Avenue at 118th Street. 212-665-2525,

The Harlem Tavern, Free Cocktail with Dinner, 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd at 116th Street. 212-866-4500,

Sylvia’s Restaurant, Free Cocktail with Dinner, 328 Lenox Avenue at 126th Street. 212-996-2669,

Friday, November 18, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Lenox Avenue circa 1871

A photo from 1871 shows Lenox Avenue getting ready for development when there was not much around uptown.  The archival material mentions that the location is just north of Central Park so this was what today's Lenox Avenue looked like before the tenements and brownstones arrived.  It also appears that 6th Avenue was just being laid out at this point in time or at being updated with more modern road surfacing.

George Gardner Rockwood, 6th Avenue north of Central Park ca. 1871 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 533 West 141st Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Saturday, November 19th, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM.  The Hamilton Heights townhouse at 523 West 141st Street (at center) is up for sale for the first time since 2007 and the single family house is now available for $1.63 million.  Based on the photos, the interiors looked all updated with enough details to keep things interesting.  Additional images after the jump.