Tuesday, January 31, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: 145th and Broadway circa 1910

An old photo from 1910 shows a very busy intersection of Hamilton Heights that apparently was often congested with pedestrians.  The 145th Street subway kiosks are visible at either side of Broadway and crowds of people can be seen spilling out into the street. There is a bit of traffic to be had also with the arrival of automobiles and all appears to be just an average day in the Heights. This section of West Harlem actually looks pretty much the same today since most of these buildings are intact.

Thaddeus Wilkerson, Broadway, north from 145th St., New York, ca. 1910 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York.

☞ DWELL: 104 West 120th Sold in January

The 18-foot-wide SRO conversion at 104 West 120th Street took six months to get into contract but finally sold in January. An asking price of $2 million was proposed for the house adjacent to the Mount Morris Park Historic District which was being transformed into a two-family building but still only had  digital renderings to show for the work in progress.  See the final selling price and interior photos after the jump.

☞ REVIVE: PS 109 Restoration Moves Forward

Yesterday's New York Times reports that a substantial tax credit for a project that would restore East Harlem's P.S. 109 located on East 99th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue has finally been secured.  The nonprofit group Artspace alongside El Barrio's Operation Fightback have been trying to finish the adaptive reuse project since 2008 but now the $24 million government tax credit for low-income housing will make the $50 million development a reality. This affordable housing concept is quite unique since it works with restoring a local landmark alongside providing 89 units for local artists and their families.  Read more about it in the Times: LINK

☞ EAT: What's Up with Kuti's?

The West African snack shack called Kuti's at 355 West 116th has had great reviews for its quality ingredients and affordable prices but apparently has not been opened recently.  A Bespoke reader mentioned that that eatery just around the corner from Morningside Park has been shutter for over a week now and wanted to know if anyone had any updates on this local shop?  Kuti's is sort of a hole-in-the-wall type of establishment with cheap offerings but in a good way so it would be a shame if it shutters.

☞ MEET: Harry Belafonte at the Schomburg

Friday, February 17, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Harry Belafonte's My Song Event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd/Lenox Avenue at 135th Street. Join actor, author, and activist Harry Belafonte as he discusses his memoir, My Song, with Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Belafonte is not just one of the greatest entertainers of our time; he has also led one of the great American lives of the last century. In My Song, he tells us the story of his life, giving us its full breadth, letting us share in the struggles, the tragedies, and, most of all, the inspiring triumphs. Free but RSVP required.  Register for this special event by going to www.schomburgcenter.eventbrite.com or call 212.491.2040

Monday, January 30, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Herberts on 125th circa 1931

The above sketch of 125th Street at 7th Avenue drawn around 1931 shows a distinct jeweler and a local landmark that no longer exists at this intersection in Central Harlem. Herberts storefront had large faux diamonds encrusted on to the store signage and a large spectacle sign was also something that caught the eye of pedestrians along the commercial corridor.  At the far left of the drawing, one can find a tall free standing clock that once held court a this corner of 125th Street.

Bertram Goodman, 125th and 7th Looking West, ca. 1931 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: PS90 Condos 100 Percent Sold

Harlem's most notable large adaptive reuse condo building known as PS90 has officially sold out according to today's press release:

Halstead Property Development Marketing and West 147th Street Associates LLC, an affiliate of L+M Development Partners, Inc., today announced that all units at PS90, a premier residential development in Harlem, have been sold.

Located at 220 West 148th Street, PS90 is a re-development of a circa 1905 elementary school, which is a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units ranging in size from 760 – 1,630 square feet and in price from $425,000 – $899,000. The sell out comes after a steady stream of sales, which initially launched at the end of 2009 by Halstead Property Development Marketing.

PS90 is a unique, award-winning property highlighted by spacious layouts, Manhattan views, custom kitchens and spa-like bathrooms. Penthouses feature generously-sized rooftop terraces. The homes are built with herringbone pattern oak flooring, central air and heat, and Bosch washers and dryers. Custom-designed kitchens include: stainless steel appliances; Quartzite countertops and backsplashes, as well as under-counter microwaves in the islands. Bathrooms are accentuated by grey staggered bond mosaic walls and floors, honed Palmira tiled bath and shower walls, custom tubs and separate showers with oversized rain shower heads, and dramatic recessed lighting coves.

“We are extremely proud to reach a successful conclusion at PS90,” said Lisa Gomez, executive vice president of development at L+M Development Partners, Inc. “Buyers were drawn to the development for its unique design and value from the start, and we thank our sales and marketing team at Halstead Property Development Marketing for their hard work in strategically executing the sales process.”

☞ REVIVE: New 2066 Fifth Avenue Revealed

The boarded up building at 2066 Fifth Avenue had a lot of construction happening on site this past year but it was soon revealed that a new building would replace the older one.  A couple of Bespoke readers have recently taken photos of this corner by West 127th Street this past weekend and the facade has now finally been revealed.  Check out the photo after the jump.


The Daily News recently wrote a feature on the new Frederick Douglass Boulevard Business Alliances which focuses on mapping out the retailers in South Harlem.  New Businesses such as the Harlem Shambles or 5 & Diamond are among the 45 shops listed on a map designed by FDBA but older, more casual establishments such as bodegas and gas stations are also represented. Most of the map's destination spots are in the area spanning from Central Park North's 110th Street border at the south end and 125th Street on the north side which has been called South Harlem or SoHa in the past decade. Read more about FDBA and see the map at the Daily News: LINK

☞ SEE: The Mystery of Chocolate at MJM

Saturday, February 11th, 3:00 PM-5:00 PM, 4th Annual Chocolate day: The Mystery of Chocolate at the Morris-Jumel Mansion,  65 Jumel Terrace between 160th and 161st Streets. Kick off Valentine's Day weekend with the popular Chocolate tasting event in one of the city's oldest free-standing mansions. Chocolate has always had a connection to the ritual of courtship. Celebrate the romance and mystery of “the food of the gods,” at the Morris-Jumel Mansion masquerade ball where history will come to life as you encounter the ladies of the house who will tell you about their intriguing lives. Tickets are $25 per person and $20 for members. Pre-paid advanced registration is required. Call 212.923.8008.  More details at the MJM website: LINK

Friday, January 27, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Grant's Tomb at Night c. 1915

An old postcard from 1915 shows the spectacular view of Grant's Tomb at night through the perspective of the outdoor patio at the Claremont Inn.  This seating area which was at 124th Street and Riverside Drive was illuminated at night and apparently the ships along the Hudson also had a predisposition to turn on the lights while passing by during evening hours.  As everyone knows by now, the tomb is still there and has been restored but the fabled inn is long gone.

Haberman's, Grant's Tomb and the Hudson River by Moonlight, New York City, ca. 1915 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 312 West 138th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE:  Sunday, January 29th, 1:00 PM-2:30 PM.   A 16-foot-wide SRO building is currently showing for the first time at 312 West 138th Street for an initial asking of $789K. The location is just a couple of blocks away from St. Nicholas Park and the local train but there's not too much else going on in the immediate residential area.  An out of date Certificate of Non Harassment is apparently on file and the lack of interior photos probably means a gut renovation is needed. More at the broker site: LINK

☞ DRINK: Vinateria or Six Lounge at Gateway?

A few of the Gateway Tower condo storefronts at 2100 FDB/8th Avenue have been empty in the past year but the news of a wine bar arriving had previously peaked our interest back in November: LINK.  The moniker Vinateria had previously been mentioned at the local community board meeting last year which sounded like it would an establishment with a better aesthetic.  Walking by the block between 113th and 114th Street this week, we noticed that an announcement for the yet to be established space has a new name listed as Six Lounge which does not sound so inspiring.  Anyone know what's going on here?

☞ INTRODUCING: Police Work 1972-1979

Through March 18th, Police Work: Photographs by Leonard Freed at The Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at East 103rd Street. Police Work: Photographs by Leonard Freed, 1972–1979 features a selection of vintage prints by the Brooklyn-born photographer who documented "life on the beat" with NYPD officers during the tumultuous 1970s. During a time when New York City faced near bankruptcy and was internationally notorious for its high crime rates and social disorder, Freed's photographs reveal the complexity, the harshness, and the camaraderie of the city's public safety servants and the people they protected. Highlighting a recent gift to the Museum of the City of New York by his widow Bridgette Freed, the exhibition is a gritty, realistic portrait of ordinary people doing a "sometimes boring, sometimes corrupting, sometimes dangerous and ugly and unhealthy job." More details at the MCNY site: LINK

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Friday, January 27th, Red Tails screenings in Harlem, AMC Magic Johnson Theater, 2309 FDB/8th Avenue and 124th Street. The film based on the World War II Tuskagee airmen will be showing at Harlem own AMC Theatre starting this weekend.  For more details and times, check out the Fandango page: LINK

Saturday, January 28th, 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM, Harlem Flo Lifestyle Boutique event, 2276 FDB/8th Avenue at 122nd Street. Check out the Grand Opening of the Harlem Flo's Lifestyle Boutique with many featured artists and designers. From Paris- Jewelry designer to the stars Kareenm Fadika and the tunes from DJ Stormin Norman. For more details, contact:  info@HarlemFlo.com

Sunday, January 29th, 1:00 PM, Kira Lynn Harris: The Block | Bellona at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street . Enjoy an interactive and informative tour of Kira Lynn Harris: The Block | Bellona led by a knowledgeable Museum educator. Kira Lynn Harris reimagines The Block (1971), Romare Bearden’s iconic, six-panel, eighteen-foot-long collage depicting life in Harlem. Bearden’s “block” is occupied by a church, a grocery store, a barbershop, apartment buildings and the people of Harlem who inhabit those spaces.  RSVP for this free tour: LINK

Sunday, January 29th, 7:30PM, COMEDY COVO at COVO's upstair lounge, 701 West 135 Street and 12th Avenue. Come check out the monthly comedy show with some of NYC's best comedians in one of Harlem's most unique lounges (top of a former railroad station). Hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin, this Sunday night show features comics Dan St. Germain, Naomi Ekperigin, Carmen  Lynch, Bernadette Paulie and DJ legend Chris Washington. This FREE comedy event also features half price paninis, $3 beer and $5 drink specials. www.CovoNY.com

☞ SUBSCRIBE: Harlem Bespoke via Email

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Aerial of the Claremont c. 1935

A postcard from 1935 shows the positioning of the Claremont Inn over at Riverside Drive and 124th Street before it burned down years later.  One can see how the location and the views at the historic inn made it an attraction for those who were looking for a bit of respite uptown.  We wished we could have seen it back in the day but only a public park stands on the spot currently.

Lumitone Press Photoprint, The Claremont Inn, New York, ca. 1935 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: The Park Lane Condominiums

A current press release has it that 12 apartments are left at The Park Lane, a classic six-story with elevator, prewar condominium at 118 West 112th Street, near Lenox Avenue in South Harlem. Remaining units in the adaptive reuse building consist of a single one-bedroom, four two bedrooms and seven three-bedrooms with prices starting at $350K.  Central Park is probably the most attractive part of this location since it is only 2 blocks away and the express 2,3 train is also close by.  Not much else is in the immediate area but the FDB corridor and the Mount Morris Historic District is just a short walk away in either direction.  Checking on Streeteasy, only 8 units appear to be currently listed alongside 9 that have been sold in the past: LINK

☞ READ: Harlem Tavern in the News

Today's Daily News takes a closer look at the popular Harlem Tavern and how the outdoor dining destination is providing services during the colder months.  The new outdoor eatery has 200 seats open during the warm seasons but encloses the patio with a tent for colder weather which then accommodates 140 people.  Heat lamps are also part of the picture and will keep the outdoor diners warm until the full patio opens up again in April.  Since converting an old gas station into an affordable beer garden back in July, the Harlem Tavern has proven that an affordable but nice outdoor dining option can survive year round uptown: LINK

☞ EAT: Harlem Savour Opens on FDB

Reader tips have been coming in on the new seafood takeout joint that replaces the shuttered Just Wingin It store at FDB/8th Avenue and now it appears that said establishment has opened.  We walked by this week and saw that the eatery was indeed open and another reader sent in the above photo this past Monday.  A few folks were  eating inside which had seating available but the main attraction here is apparently the high tech ordering systems which features iPads.  Has anyone tried Harlem Savour yet?

☞ SEE: The Kwame Brathwaite Exhibit at HSA

February 8th through March 5th, Kwame Brathwaite, Celebrating 50 Years of Images: African-American Icons & Legends in Arts, Politics and Culture at HSA,  645 St. Nicholas Avenue and 142nd Street. The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) presents notable photographer Kwame Brathwaite, Celebrating 50 Years of Images: African-American Icons & Legends in Arts, Politics and Culture. As part of the HSA Family Enrichment Series, generously underwritten by ConEdison, the exhibit features photographs of legends including Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, and Michael Jackson as well as icons such as Stevie Wonder, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Judith Jamison and more. www.HSAnyc.org

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: The Westminster circa 1910

An old photo from 1910 shows the building that used to stand over at St. Nicholas Avenue and West 145th Street. The other three prewar structures are intact at this intersection of Sugar Hill but this fourth corner has a more modern construction on it nowadays.  Some of the areas prewar complexes were neglected in the most recent decades and thus had to have been replaced at one point in time or another along the 145th Street corridor.

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

☞ DWELL: 131 West 130th Street in Contract

The 18-foot-wide shell at 131 West 130th Street has gone into contract after being on the market for just 10 days. Located between Lenox and ACP/7th, this brownstone is on a block with lots of potential but a handful of neglected buildings still remain.  Another notable point is that the Central Harlem townhouse appears to be an SRO and it is unclear if the current $779K asking price includes a Certificate of Non Harassment .

☞ SHOP: Next Plans for Old Society Coffee

Society Coffee had been one of first businesses to launch the new restaurant row at the lower FDB corridor several years ago but there has been no activity at the space since it shuttered in the latter half of 2011.  A Bespoke reader has now reported that they recently talked with one of the successful new business owners along the corridor and that said proprietor will be taking over the space in the future.  So what will be arriving on FDB/8th Avenue and 114th Street going forward?  Apparently a new cafe will once more debut on this corner if all goes as planned so stay tuned for more details.

☞ REVIVE: Bricks at 5 West 127th Street

All of the foundation work finished this past July at 5 West 127th Street and there has been some major progress over the months on the new condo construction. A photo taken this past week of the 13-unit building in Central Harlem shows that it has already topped off and is now getting all the brickwork done on the facade.  The 13-unit building located just west of 5th Avenue is probably one of the newest developments to come along this past year. There has not been too much new activity in larger condo construction as of late and this smaller building built on an empty lot will be one of the first ones to be completed in the next year or so.  Check out our past post for a rendering of the final design: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Stage for Debate at the Schomburg

Thursday, February 2nd,  7:00 PM,  Stage for Debate: Steve Stoute and Bill Rhoden at the Schomburg, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard/Lenox Avenue at 135th Street. Join Billboard editor Danyel Smith as she moderates a debate on the notion of "post-blackness." How does race matter in the today's worlds of business, sports and music? Stoute, marketing guru and chairman of Carol’s Daughter, recently published The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Culture Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, and Rhoden is the author of Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete.

Free! Registration requested at www.schomburgcenter.eventbrite.com or call (212) 491-2040. For more detailed program information, visit www.schomburgcenter.org/calendar.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Hudson-Fulton Parade on Lenox

We have seen several photos of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in 1909 but most of them have been by Riverside Drive.  An image of a parade during this time shows an one particular event that actually traveled through Central Harlem.  The above float photo was taken at Lenox Avenue and 133rd Street and was one of many that traveled through Harlem as part of the city wide celebration of Henry Hudson's discovery of the river that would be named after him.

Hudson-Fulton Celebration, September 29th, 1909 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 1889 Lexington Townhouse Reduced

What could be the most expensive SRO building on the market in East Harlem appears to have reduced its asking price back in December. Number 1889 Lexington Avenue is an occupied building with 8 units that was up on the market for $1.25 million this past summer.  The shabby building is surrounded by some new construction at East 117th Street and is close to the subway stop on the corner of 116th Street but was not able to find a buyer in 2011.  Now the price has been reduced dramatically and the property is going for $800K.  This is one of the only townhouses facing the avenue that is left in the area so it will be interesting to see if it sells at the new asking price.

☞ EAT: East Harlem IHOP to Open in January

A Bespoke reader has submitted a photo of the new East Harlem International House of Pancake and provides proof that it will open by the end of the month. The location is at the new commercial building on the corner of 126th Street and Lexington Avenue which should have improved pedestrian traffic because of the new arrival.  IHOP has been expanding in NYC and this will the second location uptown.

☞ READ: Condos Converted to Group Home

DNAinfo reports on how the local community board is contesting the condo purchase of a non-profit organization that establishes housing for young men with disabilities. The Savoy West at West 138th and Lenox is being pitched as a luxury development but two of the last units are now under negotiations to convert into a group facility.  Communtiy Board 10 of Central Harlem has apparently been voting against having more of such facilities open uptown and argue that there are already enough of such establishments for the disabled, former addicts or ex-convicts. To the developer, this is just another condo sale but apparently CB10 has a say in this transaction and will eventually have to prove that Harlem is overly saturated with this type housing. Read more in DNAinfo: LINK

☞ SHOP: Hot Bread Kitchen at Harlem Shambles

Hot Bread Kitchen has established facilities over at La Marqueta in East Harlem but has not been selling at any uptown stores until now.  We have seen Hot Bread Kitchen's offerings sold at occasional street fairs but not much elsewhere in Harlem.  That has all changed recently since the non-profit bakery now has teamed up with the new Harlem Shambles at 2141 Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 115th Street.  The artisanal butcher shop in South Harlem will now be selling a selection from Hot Bread Kitchen so stop by to get the freshly baked goods made locally alongside that side of grass fed cut of meat. Learn more about Hot Bread Kitchen from our past post: LINK

Monday, January 23, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: After the Snow on Lenox c. 1900

An old photo taken sometimes during the turn of the previous century shows what the aftermath of a major snowstorm looked like uptown 100 years ago.  There apparently was around 15 inches altogether at the time the image was taken and the above piles were located just north of 125th Street on Lenox Avenue.  There does not seem to be much of this stuff around for January 2012  but most should expect one more big storm by the time February ends.

Robert L. Bracklow (1849-1919), 125th Street and Lenox Avenue after 15" of Snowfall via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 151 West 122nd Street in Contract

The brownstone with the notable modern renovation at 151 West 122nd Street has been on the market for a few years now and finally has gone into contract.  Located between ACP/7th Avenue and Lenox, the 20-foot-wide brownstone has a complete gut renovated interior that is officially environmentally efficient (LEED certified) and this makes it a one of a kind building for the neighborhood.  The original price was at almost $3 million a few years back but the asking slowly decreased down to $2.49 million in the past year.  Check out the interior photos after the jump.

☞ SHOP: What's Up with the Old Vinegar Hill?

A Bespoke reader sent in some evidence that the rumors of a major chain arriving at the former restaurant spaces by West 137th Street and Broadway might actually be true.  This corner of West Harlem used to have the Mexican eatery Tres Pasos, the Vinegar Hill sandwich shop and Cafe Largo but all have been shuttered for over a couple of years now. Notices had been posted stating that these establishments would open once more but now the spaces are being gutted into one large storefront.  Furthermore, that gourmet deli sign that has been hanging out front in the past year seems to also be something that might not really be happening.  More photos and what is possibly arriving to this retail row after the jump.

☞ EAT: ABV Wine Bar to Open in East Harlem

The Earl's Beer & Cheese spinnoff restaurant over in East Harlem appears to be ready to open soon. New York magazine reports that ABV Wine Bar will debut soon at 1504 Lexington and 97th Street by next weekend with a total of 60 seats within the eatery.  This is good news since the popular Earl's spot which is on the same block apparently is tiny in comparison.  Check out the menu and slide show at New York magazine: LINK
Photo Courtesy Michelle Feffer for New York Magazine

☞ SEE: Comedy Sunday at Covo

Sunday, January 29th, 7:30PM, COMEDY COVO at COVO's upstair lounge, 701 West 135 Street and 12th Avenue. Come check out the monthly comedy show with some of NYC's best comedians in one of Harlem's most unique lounges (top of a former railroad station). Hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin, this Sunday night show features comics Dan St. Germain, Naomi Ekperigin, Carmen  Lynch, Bernadette Paulie and DJ legend Chris Washington. This FREE comedy event also features half price paninis, $3 beer and $5 drink specials. www.CovoNY.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: River Views at the Claremont

Another photo of the Claremont Inn taken in 1938 shows the Hudson River view from the outdoor patio that used to be a main attraction during the warmer season. This section would have been on the west side of the local landmark that was on at 124th Street at Riverside Drive and one can see the George Washington Bridge in the distance. A fire burned down everything by the 1950s and the above image is only one of the few photos ever taken of the actual grounds of the estate.

Gottscho-Scheisner Inc., Claremont Inn, Riverside Drive and 124th Street, August  14, 1938 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 341 West 122nd Street Brownstone

OPEN HOUSE:  Sunday, January 22nd, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM.  A new listing on the market is reaching for the higher asking price of $2.85 million for a 16-foot-wide, 2-family home at 341 West 122nd Street which is just by Morningside Park. Original details have been restored in this one but the bathrooms and the kitchens are decidedly modern.  The location is on one of the more peaceful brownstone blocks in South Harlem and close to transportation and shops but will it get the higher asking price? More photos at the broker site: LINK

☞ DRINK: Bleu Violin Arriving at 1400 Fifth

The former Ginger restaurant space at the 1400 Fifth Avenue reportedly will have a new tapas restaurant arriving soon and a reader submitted the second photo that just appeared out front of the commercial space.  Apparently the establishment planned for this corner of West 116th Street has been named Bleu Violin and will now be mainly a lounge.  This is a big space with about 3,000 square foot altogether so the spot will have to keep pretty busy during the week to be successful.  A website has been established for the new South Harlem venture but not much information can be found on the establishment at this point in time: LINK