Friday, December 30, 2011

☞ CELEBRATE: New Year Weekend in Harlem

Happy New Year Harlem!  Below is the list of top weekend picks.

Friday, December 30th, Auberge Laurent soft opening, 200 Lenox at 120th Street.  The signs have it that Auberge Laurent will have a soft opening today.  Workers were still furiously milling around on site this week but it appears that the debut will be tonight for the wine bar in the Mount Morris Park Historic District.

Saturday, December 31st, starting 10:00 PM, PAST FUTURE! A New Year's Eve Spectacular at Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Avenue at 127th Street.  The Maysles Cinema will rock out New Years Eve this year with live performances from The Sassparilla Sisters, Harlem's own Rap/Rocker Danny Switchblade alongside special guest LAMEC. Ring in the new year with a night of Dance, Music, Theatre, Art, and plenty of bubbly at Harlem's independent theater: LINK

Saturday, December 31st, New Year's Eve Dinner at Settepani, 196 Lenox Avenue at 120th Street. The Mount Morris Park Historic District Italian eatery will be offering a Prix Fixe selection which includes pappardelle with wild boar and a main of beef fillet starting at $50 per person (without drinks).  RSVP required: 917.492.4806. See the full menu at the Settepani facebook site: LINK

Saturday, December 31st, New Year's Eve Dinner at Lido, 2168 FDB/8th Avenue at 117th Street.  Lido offers up an extensive four course tasting menu which will include a bottle of sparking wine for every couple for a Prix Fixe at $125 per person. To Reserve call 646.490.8575.  Check out the Lido site for the full menu list of the evening's offerings: LINK

Saturday, December 31st, 4:00 PM - Midnight, New Year’s Eve at Harlem Tavern, 2153 FDB/8th Avenue at 116th Street. No cover with live DJ music all night, optional Prix Fix menu and balloon ball drop on the big screens: LINK

Saturday, December 31st, 5:00 PM-Midnight, New Year's Eve House Party at Bier International, 2099 FDB/8th Avenue at 113th Street.  No cover or Prix Fixe menu.  The band NSEO International will provide live music for the evening and specials such as a fillet of beef served with a side of seared foie gras, potato croquets, baby vegetables and a glass of champagne for $27 makes Bier one of the best places to celebrate the new years.

Saturday, December 31st, starting at 6:00 PM, New Years Eve at Shrine, 2271 ACP/7th Avenue at 134th Street.  Celebrate New Year's Eve at Shrine with drink specials, live DJ music and a large screen projecting the event at Time Square. $20 Cover charge.  More details can be found at the Shrine site: LINK

☞ SEE: A Portrait of Sherman's Bar BQ

Artist Raymond Sicignano painted many of Harlem's vanishing storefronts several years ago and sent in an image of one of the other Sherman's branches that was still in existence at the time.  The familiar blue and red storefront is the same as the last remaining shop on 145th Street but this facade also has a very distinct signage in the shape of chicken.  Does anyone know if this particular branch was in Harlem?  Check out more Harlem and New York shop portraits by the artist at:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: 30 East 129th Street circa 1932

A photo taken circa 1932 shows a semi detached wood frame house that used to be located at 30 East 129th Street. East Harlem had quite few of these back in the day but this was the only one left on the block just west of Madison Avenue.  The building probably went to ruin decades ago and now a more modern structure sits on the lot.

Charles Von Urban, 30 East 129th Street ca 1932 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: Two Left at the Metropolis

It took a couple of years but the green development called the Metropolis is on its way to selling out.  Streeteasy has the building at 51 East 128th Street with 11 sold units and a 1-bedroom currently available for the asking of $325K: LINK. There is also a 2-bedroom unit that apparently went in and out of contract for $395K but that condo is no longer available at this point in time. This development is FHA approved so first time homebuyers get the benefit of a low down payment and interest rates.

☞ EAT: Sherman's BBQ's Last Stand

The 60 year old chain of Sherman's BBQ may be finished if the last storefront closes up in the new year.  Local media have been reporting on how the health code violations have prevented the shop from opening and placed the takeout joint on ACP/7th at 145th Street into debt: LINK.  Sherman Hibbitt originally started the chain in 1948 with several sit down restaurants throughout Harlem. Many local and international celebrities have visited the other (now shuttered) Sherman's branches over the years but Mr. Hibbitt's daughter is now running the last vestige of the the BBQ empire and is in need of a backer to keep it open.  Read our past post on the famous Sherman's location that the Beatles dined at with a local girl group called the Ronettes: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Progress at 2nd Harlem IHOP

Back in May, the new office building at the corner of Lexington and 126th Street announced that Harlem's next International House of Pancakes was arriving soon at its lower floor commercial space but not much has happened until now.  This location at  2082 Lexington Avenue in East Harlem will complement the already popular IHOP in Central Harlem on 135th Street and a reader took a photo of some progress on the site in the past week.  Interior after the jump.

☞ DRINK: New Year's Eve at Bier International

Saturday, December 31st, 5:00 PM-Midnight, New Year's Eve House Party at Bier International, 2099 FDB/8th Avenue at 113th Street.  Bier International in South Harlem is offering the rare New Year's Eve event without a cover or Prix Fixe menu.  The band NSEO International will provide live music for the evening and specials such as a fillet of beef served with a side of seared foie gras, potato croquets, baby vegetables and a glass of champagne for $27 makes Bier one of the best places to celebrate the new years.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

☞ ARCHITECTURE: A Brownstone Addition

A set of brownstones just north of 128th Street and 5th Avenue show how additional levels were added on back in the day when all the pieces were meant to match up aesthetically.  The three identical townhouse on this block line up perfectly but the two on either end have added the additional floor at some point in time. This was done by a faux mansard roof lined with a few dormer windows so that the top floor looked like as if it was part of the building all along. Originally there would have been some slate shingles on the mansard part of the addition but the recently renovated white building to the right has decided to go with just simple stucco. Nowadays, most architects just add a glassy box on top or a plain box which does not always appear to be as contextual as the older method.

☞ DWELL: 353 West 121st Street Brownstone

A 16-foot-wide brownstone at 353 West 121st Street just arrived on the market for the asking of $2.59 million. The location is just around the corner from Morningside Park and the block itself is one of the more charming brownstone streets in South Harlem but buyers might want to check out the C of O on this one. This renovated townhouse was at one point an SRO but has since been renovated with much of its details intact. About 2,925 square foot of space can be found in the interior and the location is very close to the lower FDB corridor's offerings of restaurants and retail. More photos and details on this property can be found on the broker site: LINK

☞ READ: The Harlem French Charter in the News

The Daily News catches up with Harlem's French language charter school which opened up on West 120th Street back in September 2010.  Half of the students come from Francophone families who come from as far as Queens to get their child a bilingual education.  About 70 to 80 percent of the curriculum is taught in French but a lack of enough French-language books along with poor leadership has the charter under the watchful eye of the Department of Education.  Parents and board members soon replaced the principal and a donation of French books has given a new direction for the school which will be reviewed once again in May 2012.  Read more about it in the Daily News: LINK

On a side note, the building of which the charter is housed in used be a cigar factory set up in 1907: LINK

☞ EAT: Update at Old Just Wingin It Space

A reader sent in a tip that the old Just Wingin It space at 2190 FDB/8th Avenue will soon be a seafood restaurant with high tech amenities.  A woman on site at the shop at the corner of West 118th Street told our tipster that the menus will all be on iPads and all the delivery staff will carry iPhones. This one appears to be more a takeout joint than an establishment to hang out at based on the size of the space but the concept seems interesting.  An opening is expected in the next couple of weeks but no date has been set yet.

☞ DRINK: New Year's Eve at Shrine

Saturday, December 31st, starting at 6:00 PM, New Years Eve at Shrine, 2271 ACP/7th Avenue at 134th Street.  Celebrate New Year's Eve at Shrine with drink specials, live DJ music and a large screen projecting the event at Time Square. $20 Cover charge.  More details can be found at the Shrine site: LINK

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: The Tricterian circa 1915

A photo from 1915 shows one of the new restaurants opening in Central Harlem just after the turn of the century.  The Tricterian had white tablecloth, bentwood seats, painted murals, lincrusta dado detail and exposed beams which all apparently made a very fancy setting for the new Harlem middle class that were establishing themselves around 145th Street.  This restaurant disappeared long ago and there has yet to be a replacement of this nature in the more northern reaches of Harlem today.

Byron Company, New York, NY, Restaurants, Tricterian, 145th Street, ca 1915 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 310 West 137th Street in Contract

After being almost a year on the market, the  2-family, 2,496 square foot townhouse in Central Harlem going for $685K is finally in contract.  The 16-foot-wide brick property had its facade stripped of old paint and was repointed but the inside looks like it was in the middle of a gut renovation in the past months.  DOB records still has it listed as an SRO and a B3-2 Family dwelling which shows that the online system is not always up to date. Otherwise, it's a quiet brownstone block that's about a 5 minute walk to the B,C station at St. Nicholas Park and 135th Street. There appears to be some original details left intact but the space will need the full reno treatment. Go to the broker website to set up a viewing and see the interior: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Mt. Moriah Lights Ups

The old Mt. Moriah church at 2050 Fifth Avenue has been shuttered for quite some time but the new owner now appears to be in the holiday spirit and has recently lit up the space at night. Swiss-born modern artist Ugo Rondinone purchased the church back in November and now neighbors are sending in photos of the the space at night which showcases illuminated stained glass in all the windows. This corner of 5th Avenue by 127th Street will eventually be an arts space for the community but the architectural elements of the old church have now added some nice ambiance to the block just by highlighting their existence.  Read more about the new owner of the Mt. Moriah church in our past post: LINK

☞ EAT: Red Rooster Makes Top 10 of 2011

New York magazines looks back at the best new restaurants of 2011 and has Harlem's own Red Rooster on the list.  Two revival establishments made the top ten (including Fedora in the West Village) but Marcus Samuelsson's uptown eatery was the one that had to be reinvented from scratch and remade into a modern incarnation.  The celebrity chef who lives in Harlem worked the right formula of history, food and press to come up with something unique that has placed the new restaurant on the map as a destination spot.  It's only been a year but the Rooster is almost a legend at this point.  Read more of top ten list in New York magazine: LINK

☞ EXERCISE: Land Yoga for Kids

FREE KIDS YOGA Classes at Land Yoga, 2116 FDB/8th Avenue and 114th Street.  Land Yoga will start off the new years with a series of free open houses that will introduce yoga to the younger members of the family.  The open house schedule for January will include various age groups and some courses which will include adult family members:

Tuesday, January 3rd 4-4:45PM Ages 4-7
Thursday, January 5th 4-5:00PM Ages 8-11
Saturday, January 7th 10:15-11AM Ages 2-3 (w/adult)
Saturday, January 7th 11:15-12:15 Family Yoga (Kids 4-8 w/adult(s)

RSVP at: . Check out more details more details on the South Harlem yoga establishment on the studio site: LINK

Friday, December 23, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Santa Claus by Thomas Nast

One of the most famous illustrators of the 19th century was based in Harlem and is consider the creator of the modern version of Santa Claus. Thomas Nast worked for Harper's Weekly during a time in history when photos were not common so cartoon illustrations provided a key role in major publications. During a time period ranging from 1863 to 1886, Mr. Nast came up with a Santa Clause that went against the usually thin depiction of the Christmas character.  Other Santa specific illustrations by Thomas Nast also suggested that the jolly fellow lived at the North Pole and had his toy workshop set up there.  Have a Happy Holidays Harlem!  Image via Fine Art America

Thursday, December 22, 2011

☞ DWELL: 363 Manhattan Avenue Condo

The distinct row of townhouse buildings by 115th Street at Manhattan Avenue are apparently adaptive reuse condo buildings and one duplex unit is currently up for sale.  An asking price of $749K has been set for the 2 bedroom, 2 bath with one half bath unit that has roughly 1,300 square foot of space altogether. This location is only a block away from Morningside Park and the listing has it as Morningside Heights but it is actually in South Harlem.  So how do the interiors hold in comparison to the stately exterior?

☞ INTRODUCING: Speakeasy Jazz at Bill's Place

Every Friday night, doors open at 8:30 PM for 2 shows at 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM, Jazz at Bill's Place, 148 West 133rd Street. The main speakeasy street in Central Harlem was located on West 133rd Street between Lenox and ACP/7th Avenue during the Harlem Renaissance years but the street is silent today except for the one current establishment (as the above documentary from Channel 13 reveals) that keeps the spirit alive. Bill's Place has been open for six years now and features Harlem born musician Bill Paxton every Friday night. Admission is $15 at the door and more details on this event can be found at the Bill's Place site: LINK

☞ SHOP: Is Crumbs Arriving on 125th Street?

The papers reported back in may that Crumbs bake shop signed a lease at 215 West 125th Street but the vacant storefront currently on the site appears to have different designs.  We had been eyeing this shop located between FDB/8th Avenue and ACP/7th Avenue and the interior has now been revealed but appears to not fit the Crumbs traditional model.  This was the one shop getting all the work done to it so we assumed Crumbs would be arriving here.  Right now, the space looks like a shoe store or something that needs a lot of display shelves.  Any tips out there?  Read our past post for more on the reported Crumbs arrival to Harlem: LINK

☞ READ: Dance Theater of Harlem Auditions

The New York Times reports that the Dance Theater of Harlem is currently seeking 18 dancers for its new troupe.  Harlem's famous arts organization closed its doors back in 2004 and had 44 dancers at that time.  Even with the smaller troupe, operations for the revived company will run around $5 million of which half the amount has been received thus far from various foundations.  As far as the auditions go, the Dance Theater of Harlem will be holding them in the traditional manner along with a new video submission format. Read more in the Times: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Music Mondays @ the Dwyer

Monday, December 26th, with sets at 8:30 PM & 10:00 PM,  Music Mondays @The Dwyer, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue at 123rd Street. Trombonist/composer Craig Harris along with a stellar ensemble of musicians will be performing for the holiday season at the Dwyer. Tickets are $10 at the door.  More details can be found at the Dwyer site for this event: LINK

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: Daniel's Bar & Grill circa 1939

A photo from 1939 shows a lively street corner somewhere up on 143rd Street.  Daniel's Bar & Grill appears to have had quite an active corner on the street even in the evening hours.  Pedestrians, customers and a food cart can all be seen converging in front of the restaurant somewhere by one of the main avenues.  Does anyone have any more information on the location of Daniel's?

Sid Grossman, Federal Art Project, Street Scene in Harlem in Front of Daniel's Bar and Grill c.1939 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 243 West 120th Sold in September

An SRO shell that has been vacant since it was sold for $911.9K back in 2005 has finally exchanged ownership and might eventually be fixed up sooner than later.  The property at 243 West 120th Street is just east of St. Nicholas Avenue in South Harlem and had an initial asking price of $695K back in June and now records show that final sale price was set at $620K.  This derelict 17-foot-wide building is probably one of the worst ones on the block so converting this former SRO will definitely be an improvement for the neighborhood.

☞ EAT: Auberge Laurent Opens New Year's Eve?

The new Auberge Laurent failed to open up for this years annual Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Associations Gala but according to a quote made recently in DNAinfo, owner Laurence Page expects to get things started this side of the year: LINK.  Mr. Page had originally planned to open a second location for the Pink Teacup which would have been located on 120th and Lenox but now has decided to open a wine bar called Auberge Laurent because of liquor license issues. With that said, expect a New Year's Eve bash to kick things off for the eatery but also note that openings have been notoriously hard to pinpoint uptown in the past couple of years.

☞ REVIVE: More Progress at Baptist Temple

It has taken a couple of years for the Baptist Temple Church to finally start getting repairs made to its collapsed building but now things look to be moving rather quickly.  We noticed the previous week that the frame of the roof seemed to have been the only thing constructed on site this year at the 116th Street location but now more progress has happened.  Walking by the former Jewish temple located between 5th and Lenox Avenue this weekend, we noticed that the roof has basically now been constructed and the historic building will be partially protected from the elements going forward.  A lot still has to happen before the facade is fully restored but all seems to coming together at this point in time.

☞ READ: Harlem Shambles in the Times

The boys over at the new artisanal butchers on Frederick Douglass Boulevard have now been featured in the New York Times.  Brothers Timothy and Mark Forrester have created quite a stir by opening a specialty shop that offers up more unusual cuts such as beef marrow, ham hocks, flap steak which also are displayed alongside freshly made head cheese.  Everything is prepared on site and the offerings are also grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free.  Our style call out has always been that these gentlemen are probably the best dressed butchers in town which the Times fails to recognize.  Read more about the Harlem Shambles in the New York Times: LINK

Photo courtesy Michelle V. Agins for the New York Times.

☞ SEE: Kwanzaa Celebration at the Apollo

Friday, December 30th, 7:30 PM, Kwanzaa Celebration at the Apollo, 253 West 125th Street (Between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard (7th Avenue) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (8th Avenue). The Apollo Theater celebrates Kwanzaa with the renowned and energetic New York-based dance company, Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, in an evening of dance and music honoring the principles of Kwanzaa – family, community and culture. Performers include Craig Harris and the Tailgaters Tale, Michael Wimberly, Yacuba Sissoko and members of the Harlem Children’s Zone/Forces of Nature’s Youth Academy.  Buy tickets at the Apollo site: LINK

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

☞ REMEMBER: The Consolidated Gas Company

A photo from 1920 provides a view on what the latest electrical modern appliances looked like during that time period. This showrooms location was at East 114th Street at 3rd Avenue and shoppers could check out the latest light fixtures alone with the gas stove models that were currently available.  Housing projects line both sides of the avenue today at this section of East Harlem and thus the building in the photo no longer exists.

Wurts Bros., New York NY, 114th Street and 3rd Ave, Consolidated Gas Company, interior view of showroom ca. 1920 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 181 Lenox Townhouse Increase Asking

The 25-foot wide landmark corner townhouse at Lenox and 119th Street has apparently has apparently increased its asking price by almost one million since May according to records on Streeteasy: LINK. This building formerly housed the Indigo Arms bed and breakfast but is technically a 3-famiy townhouse with 8,500 square foot of space.  A previous asking price of $2.9 million was set when the spring open house season came about this year and the Mount Morris Park property then went off the market only to return at the current $3.9 million price.  That's basically $470 per square foot for a renovated building so will the new price attract a seller?

☞ REVIVE: What's Up with 104 West 127th?

Scaffolding just went up out front of the couple of buildings that houses the Crossroads Baptist Church so what is actually going on with these old structures?  The pair of 2-level formerly brick facades look to maybe have been stables at one point but have been converted to other use in recent decades.  With that said, everything looks in need of a major overhaul and the buildings just west of Lenox Avenue are apparently just getting some repair work done to them which will include stucco repair out front.

☞ LISTEN:Soul Friday's at the Red Rooster

Friday, December 23rd, 8:00 PM, Soul and R&B Friday's at the Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Avenue and 126th Street. The Red Rooster is open for the Holiday weekend and starts things off with its weekly Soul Friday's event.  Start the weekend off with favorites by the likes of Marvin, Aretha, Otis and more, as the drinks flow and the kitchen dishes out fried chicken (the Yard Bird), mac and cheese and more. More details on the Holiday weekend calendar at the Rooster can be found at the eatery's site: LINK

☞ MEET: Jonathan Bodrick

New York magazine is always on the look for stylishly dressed New Yorkers and Harlem boutique proprietor Jonathan Bodrick made the cut in the past couple of weeks.  Sweatpants have been offered in mens collections for the past few seasons and Mr. Bodrick shows how to wear them and make a street style statement.  As a purveyor of vintage clothing, the storeowner knows a bit about fashion and sells his own pieces at his (by appointment only) shop called JB B.O.R.N which is at 52 West 125th Street: LINK. Read more about the interview in New York magazine: LINK

Photo courtesy Spencer Heyfron for New York magazine

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Monday, December 19, 2011

☞ DWELL: Langston Hughes House Off Market

It was reported in the papers that a bid was accepted for Langston Hughe's old Harlem Home on 20 East 127th Street and now it appears the listing has been removed officially according to Streeteasy: LINK. The home just east of 5th Avenue has been on and off the market for the asking of $1 million in the past year and the listing was finally removed from the Sotheby's site in early November.  This 20 foot wide brownstone has some great interior details but will apparently needs a major renovation to get the infrastructure in order. The new buyer's intent on the end use of the historic home has not been revealed but the sales price should be forthcoming in the next couple of months.

☞ INTRODUCING: Old and New Harlem Unite

The Daily News has really been following up on Harlem lately and now has a story on how newcomers and old timers on West 114th Street have come together to help strengthen the community.  Roberta Coleman who is head of that block's public tenant's housing association has teamed up with the president of the new president of the condo association at 2110 Frederick Douglass Boulevard with a better  future in mind.

Coleman reveals that most of the block's 300 residents are seniors who do not feel safe going out at night because of persistent crime and that those said residents were first alienated by the wealthier newcomers around the corner.  Both sides now have the goal of improving the immediate area which should work out at the end since all of the old housing on West 114th will be fully renovated by the government in the near future.  Read more in the Daily News: LINK

☞ EAT: Lenox Lounge Up for Lease

Some interesting rumors have come up for the iconic Lenox Lounge on Lenox Avenue and 124th Street.  The rent at the Art Deco lounge appears to have now increased to over $20,000 a month starting in February so new proprietors are being sought.  Reports that Marcus Samuelsson is interested in the space have not been confirmed officially but the lounge would definitely fit in with the revival of Harlem historic spots that the celebrity chef is now known for.  Read more in DNAinfo: LINK