Wednesday, February 29, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: A Light Shop Circa 1920

Another image of the Consolidated Gas Company shop circa 1920 shows all the various light fixtures available for the updated homes of the time.  Hanging ceiling lights, milk glass shades, table lamps and floor lamps are all available for those with a modern gas household.  The sign in middle states that each can be sold on an easy monthly payment.  Check out the other wares at this old store in our past post on the gas company: LINK

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

☞ DWELL: 452 West 142nd Street Townhouse

An 18-foot-wide limestone townhouse at 452 West 142nd Street has just been listed last week and appears to have some interesting design elements.  This single family home arrived on the market at the higher end since it is currently going for $2.5 million and is located just outside of West Harlem's Sugar Hill District.  There appears to be some original detail in this ornate building but there's not too much happening in the immediate residential area.  With that said, the express subway at 145th Street is only few blocks along with Jackie Robinson park and a small commercial hub. More photos and details on the broker site: LINK

☞ DRINK: Nectar's Last Call Tonight

Tonight is officially Nectar Wine Bar's last call so come by starting at 8:00 PM to wish this FDB pioneer farewell. Click on image to enlarge. Nectar Wine Bar is located at 2235 Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 121st Street.

☞ READ: The New American Chefs

CNN has posted a story on how African American chefs are making headline these days with Marcus Samuelsson and Roblé Ali leading the way in popular media.  The two chefs discuss how they have created their brands on their abilities and shy away from ethnic stereotypes. Chef Samuelsson mentions he never discusses race in Harlem but does identify himself as a black man while Ali (who has had a recent Bravo reality show) was a bit perturbed when a blogger called him a hip-hop chef. Read more about how these two chefs approach the challenges of being known for their talents and also representing a new point of view to the American culinary scene: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: The Laundromat Project

Sign up for the Create Change Public Artist Residency & Professional Development Fellowship Info Sessions. Less than a month left to apply! The Laundromat Project is currently accepting applications to the 2012 Create Change Professional Development Fellowship and the 2012 Create Change Public Artist Residency. If you are interested in applying as a Resident or Fellow, please join an info session to learn more about the program.  Find an info session and RSVP here: LINK

Create Change Public Artists in Residence not only participate in the program’s professional development component, but are also able to apply this learning through a site-specific project in their local laundromat. Each public artist in residence is charged with placing art-making in the context of everyday living. In addition to the benefits listed for Fellows, residents also receive Honorarium ($3000) and production budget ($1000).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: The Elevated Train at East 104th

A photo from circa 1870 to 1910 shows an elevated train track that was located over at East Harlem from 100th Street to 104th Street. From the looks of the surroundings, we would probably guess that the timeline is really closer to 1870 than to the turn of the century.  This part of Harlem appears to be void of any major residential development at the time and pretty much still looked like the countryside.

Robert L. Bracklow, Elevated railroad at 100th - 104th Streets [train passing by]ca. 1870 - 1910 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ REVIVE: Update at the Raymond Building

The Raymond Building over on 125th Street and Madison appeared to be going under a restoration which included a partial demolition to expand the building.  Walking by this corner of East Harlem in the past weeks, one might notice that partial is a pretty generous word used in this case.  At the lower photo, the old building's current state can be seen and most of the structure has basically been gutted with only the base of the building standing. The good news here is that this long abandoned building will finally get a second life but at the expense of losing much of its historic charm.

☞ SEE: The Beauty of Ballet at HSA

The School of American Ballet, the official academy of New York City Ballet, will present a free lecture-demonstration in Harlem, Sunday, March 18, at 2:00 p.m., at Harlem School of the Arts, HSA Theater, 649 St. Nicholas Avenue. Visit to reserve tickets.

The 45-minute, family-friendly presentation entitled The Beauty of Ballet will illustrate how students develop into accomplished classical ballet dancers, alternating examples of advanced classroom training exercises with the performance of excerpts from notable ballets. School of American Ballet faculty member Katrina Killian (a former New York City Ballet soloist) and advanced students from SAB will be featured in the enchanting and informative introduction to the art of classical ballet.

How do ballerinas dance on their toes? How do dancers spin and turn without getting dizzy? How do male dancers jump so high? Those questions and more will be answered during the demonstration, and favorite moments from ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake will be performed to live music. The Beauty of Ballet is recommended for ages 4 through adult.

☞ INTRODUCING: Public Art on Lenox

The artist Montserrat Daubon just had a public art proposal accepted by the city and the metal sculpture will be installed on the Lenox Avenue median by 124th Street in June.  A Kickstarter project page has now been started to raise the full $7,500 needed for the public sculpture and over half the money has now been raised.  Check out the above video and go to the official Kickstarter site for more details on the end of March deadline: LINK

Monday, February 27, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Custom Paint at Carolyn Laundry

The major laundry service over in East Harlem at the early part of the last century had an army of wagons for deliveries which also had a well trained staff to help maintain them.  A photo from 1929 shows a uniformed worker custom painting a wagon and its logo in the building's garage which was at 111 East 128th Street. These delivery trucks were definitively part of the automobile age even though they still retained some of the old wagon aesthetic on the tale end.  Check out the front of the laundry building in our past post: LINK

Byron Company, New York, NY, Carolyn Laundry, 111 East 128th Street, circa 1929 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: Record Sale at 529 Manhattan Avenue

A couple of tips have come in that have reported on the private sale of 529 Manhattan Avenue in the past week.  The corner, single-family brownstone with 4,240-square-foot altogether was not listed anywhere but apparently has exchanged ownership now for the price of $2.7 million total.  A corner building with a location at West 122nd street which is accessible to South Harlem's boutiques, subways, Morningside Park and Columbia University could have been the deciding factor for this record Harlem sale.  To see what other building sold within the mid $2 million mark in the past year, check out our past post: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Art Gallery Opens on 116th

A Bespoke reader sent in photos of the new art gallery that has apparently opened on West 116th's row of African shops. The location is at 227 West 116th Street which is east of FDB/8th Avenue and Muii Gallery appears to be the newest art showcase to arrive in Harlem. West 116th has mostly ethnic shops at this point but changes are slowly starting to happen as noted in the Wall Street Journal last week: LINK

☞ EXERCISE: Brownstone Fitness in South Harlem

For those who want a more personal way to workout, Brownstone Fitness in South Harlem might the right choice if a big gym is not one's style.  This specialty boutique exercise establishment is located within a brownstone on West 118th Street just East of ACP/7th Avenue and has a more intimate setting with personal trainers on hand for sessions up to 7 days a week.  The new business started up in May and those interested in one-on-one training should check out the website for rates and contact information:

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Viewed Posts

Below is the list of last week's most viewed posts and comments.

1. Is Nectar Wine Bar Closing? (21)
2. A Sunday Afternoon at Cedric (44)
3. West 116th Street in the Journal (7)
4. 1343 Amsterdam's New Look
5. Mt. Moriah Restoration Begins (2)
6. All About the Pan Am Black Birds
7. The Central Harlem Reno New Bath (1)
8. 6 East 128th Street Brownstone (1)
9. Savoring Harlem This Weekend (1)
10. Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival Returns 

Friday, February 24, 2012

☞ DWELL: 6 East 128th Street Brownstone

Open House: Sunday, February 26th, 12:00PM-3:00PM by appointment. Number 6 East 128th Street will be having its first open house this weekend and the townhouse just right by the charming section of Central Harlem's Fifth Avenue has a lot of original details to note.  At the golden 20-foot-wide, this home has approximately 3,837-square-foot of space divided into an owner's triplex and a rental garden apartment for the initial asking price of $1.49 million.  Check out the broker site for contact information and more photos: LINK

☞ REVIVE: The Central Harlem Reno New Bath

Last time we checked out the Central Harlem renovation house, the drywall was all pretty much in but not much else had arrived. Returning a couple of months later, the master bath appears to be coming together. The walls are now covered with white marble subway tiles and the floors have a some impressive basket weave pattern to them.  Check out the work-in-progress photos after the jump.

☞ LISTEN: Harlem Jazz Shrine Festival Returns

The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, Inc. have joined forces again to present the second annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival May 7-13, 2012. Continuing the mission of the inaugural festival, the three venerable cultural organizations will present a series of concerts and events to celebrate the rich legacy of jazz in the uptown community. Bringing both established and emerging artists to famed Harlem venues, the festival will pay tribute to Club Harlem, Clark Monroe's Uptown House, Havana San Juan Club, Small's Paradise, Minton's Playhouse, Showman's Café, Park Palace, Lenox Lounge and the Apollo Theater. In addition to concerts at jazz shrines, other festival events will take place at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Columbia University and a variety of locations throughout the Harlem area.

Designed to draw a diverse audience of neighborhood residents, New Yorkers and tourists, all events are offered at the affordable price of $10. Concerts are scheduled to allow people the option of attending several events each day, continuing the tradition of non-stop jazz throughout Harlem.  Stayed tuned for updated on dates and venues.

☞ SEE: Around Harlem this Weekend

Saturday, February 25th at 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM and Saturday, February 25th at 1:00 PM, Black History Month: Swing Dancing at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace, between 160th and 161st Street.  Learn about the great tradition of swing dancing and the diverse groups of people that developed, taught and performed in Harlem. Jonathon Gill, the author of the book, Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America, will discuss the history and style of swing dancing.. FREE but advanced registration is required. Call 212.923.8008. More details at 125th BID site: LINK

Sunday February 26th, 3:00 PM, The Harlem Chamber Players Celebrate Black History Month at St. Mary's Episcopal Church 521 West 126th Street. Join The Harlem Players for an afternoon of great music celebrating Black History Month. WQXR Radio's Terrance McKnight will host. The concert includes Daniel Bernard Roumain's String Quartet No. 2 entitled "King" with spoken word delivered by Lindsey Wilson, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Movement for String Trio(dedicated to the late Ken Adams), A Spiritual Medley sung by Soprano Andréa Bradford and Dvořák's Serenade in D Minor, Op. 44 for 10 Winds, Cello and Double Bass conducted by Tali Makell. The concert takes place at St. Mary's Episcopal Church 521 West 126th Street (Between Broadway and Amsterdam). Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors and students. Available online or at the door the day of. Go to for more info.

Sunday, February 26th, 3:00PM - 7:00PM, Sunday Sermon at El Museo's El Café, 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street. Sundae Sermon is an uplifting free afternoon of dancing to soulful deep house, disco and afro beats with a feel-good vibe. Its mission is to strengthen the Harlem community by providing a platform to promote environmental, educational and recreational activities in a family-friendly environment. El Museo is hosting Sundae Sermon as a satellite extension of their outdoor music and film festival that runs in Harlem's Morningside Park from June through September. This Winter/Spring 2012 Edition will connect families and communities through dance, leisure and artist exhibits. Dj Stormin' Norman, Dj Qool Marv and other guest dj's will be your music maestros with live Painters, and face painting for kids: LINK

Sunday, February 26th, 7:30PM, Comedy Covo at the Covo Lounge, at 701 West 135 Street and 12th Avenue.  The end of the month Sunday Comedy at Covo event will happen this weekend over in Manhattanville's viaduct corridor.  Comedy Covo is hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin alongside comics from Comedy Central, VH1, and HBO. The talent on hand this weekend will include headliner Carolina Hildalgo, Neil Thornton, Myq Kaplan and other.  As usual, a DJ will be providing the music and half priced drinks make the free event pocket friendly. Take the 1 train to 137th Street or 125th Street.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Jonathan Gill at the MJM

Saturday, February 25th, 1:00PM-3:00PM,  All God's Chillun': A Visit to Swing Era Harlem with Harlem Historian Jonathan Gill, at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace, between 160th and 161st Street. Friends and fans of historian Jonathan Gill who who wrote the most current book on the history of Harlem can meet the author for the free event at the Morris-Jumel Mansion which will provide a closer look at the swing era uptown.  It's part of Mr. Gill second book tour so all of the history buffs should take note.

☞ DWELL: The Lancaster Madison

The affordable condo building at 1820 Madison Avenue appears to have sold all of its lower priced units via lottery and now is looking to the open market for buyers of the 2 or 3 bedroom units.  Located between 118th and 119th Street, this new construction is a couple of blocks away from Marcus Garvey Park and the 2,3 express train over at Lenox Avenue.  On Streeteasy, the remaining handful of units range from about $402K to $488K with roughly around 1,100 square foot of space on average: LINK.  More details on this development can be found on the development site:

☞ REVIVE: Mt. Moriah Restoration Begins

A couple of Bespoke readers have been pointing out that the Mount Moriah Church now owned by contemporary artist Ugo Rondinone is currently going under its restoration.  As folks might remember,  the congregation was not able to maintain the church, the property went up for sale and then eventually was purchased for an all cash deal at $2.775 million: LINK.  Check out the interior photos of the building that is located on the corner of 126th and Fifth Avenue after the jump.

☞ READ: West 116th Street in the Journal

An article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the retail possibilities on the strip of West 116th Street between FDB and 5th Avenue.  New condominiums such as the Kalahari and 1400 Fifth Avenue have added store frontage to the commercial corridor which is mostly populated with ethnic shops.  Now that Bleu Violin Lounge and My Image Studios have announced their openings, better existing businesses such as The Winery and BBraxton are hopeful that the trend will pick up.  The article mentions the success of FDB's bustling lower corridor but notes that commercial rents are still quite high for West 116th Street which makes it difficult for new businesses to open up.  Read more in the Journal: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Innovation & Legacies at Harlem Stage

Friday, March 2nd, 7:30 PM, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST: Innovation and Legacies, at Aaron Davis Hall, West 135th Street and Convent Avenue. Highlighting and reimagining works from Tribe's influential discography, acclaimed trumpeter and composer Igmar Thomas leads the Revive Da Live Big Band, with Vinia Mojica, Dinco D & Charlie Brown (Leaders of the New School) and Dres (Black Sheep) in a musical tribute to Tribe's trailblazing sound. More details on this Harlem Stage tribute and purchase for $20 tickets can be found on line: LINK

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: A Theater Lobby circa 1904

An interior photo of Proctor's on 125th Street circa 1904 shows an ornate theatre lobby in East Harlem that has been long gone.  Pattern carpets decorate floor, painted wall plaster decorate the chair rail and the Victorian era love of plants is evident.  Palms were a favorite in many households at the time and public venues apparently also share this enthusiasm for nature.   The establishment located just east of Park Avenue was demolished sometimes ago a new building now sits at this site.

Byron Company, New York, NY, Proctors 125th Street circa 1904 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 133 West 122nd Street In Contract

One of the most distinct brownstone townhouses adjacent to the Mount Morris Park historic district has finally gone into contract after being on the market for the past couple of years.  Number 133 West 122nd Street had an asking price of $2.895 million back at the end of 2009 but eventually was reduced to $2.395 million.  This 17-foot-wide townhouse is part of a row of buildings just west of Lenox Avenue that are easily one of the most striking in the city. Apparently fully restored by an architect who worked on the New York branch of famed Japanese department store Takashimaya, the single family, five bedroom, five bath, 4,500 square foot building has all the modern underpinnings with the original details intact. The closest train is the express 2,3 at 125th Street and the boutique shops of the Mount Morris Park Historic District are only a block away. More details and interior photos can be found at the broker site: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 1343 Amsterdam's New Look

A Bespoke reader has been sending in updates on the old wood frame house at the corner of 125th Street and Amsterdam which has been going under renovations since November.  Scaffolding has been up on the  building that used to house a pizza and coffee joint below but now a new facade has been revealed.   See what the building looks like now after the jump.

☞ SEE: Savoring Harlem This Weekend

Friday, February 24th, 8:00 PM and Saturday, February 25th, 4:00 PM, Savoring Harlem on the Food Network.  There will be a special featuring Harlem's culinary legacy and newcomers airing nationally on the food network this weekend.  The cable network for foodies describes Harlem's changing dining scene as below on their site:

"Harlem is in the midst of an undeniable food revolution. Restaurateurs like Marcus Samuelsson have come to breathe new life into the food culture, while culinary institutions like Sylvia's have stayed true to their traditions and remain relevant and sought after in a new landscape. As the neighborhood undergoes another renaissance, opportunities for change are around every corner in the form of new restaurants and green markets. From Ethiopian to Italian to French and Spanish, virtually every type of cuisine makes Harlem a vibrant food destination."

More times for this weekend's Harlem episode can be found here: LINK.

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☞ LISTEN: Comedy at Covo Sunday

Sunday, February 26th, 7:30PM, Comedy Covo at the Covo Lounge, at 701 West 135 Street and 12th Avenue.  The end of the month Sunday Comedy at Covo event will happen this weekend over in Manhattanville's viaduct corridor.  Comedy Covo is hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin alongside comics from Comedy Central, VH1, and HBO. The talent on hand this weekend will include headliner Carolina Hildalgo, Neil Thornton, Myq Kaplan and other.  As usual, a DJ will be providing the music and half priced drinks make the free event pocket friendly. Take the 1 train to 137th Street or 125th Street.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: Carolyn Laundry on East 128th

A photo from 1929 shows the major Harlem laundry service located in East Harlem at the corner of 128th Street and Park Avenue.  This would have been a time where such services were still in use by the middle class and the delivery cars along with the drivers are all properly dressed to do so.  The building in the photo still remains today but the brownstones down the street are long gone.

Byron Company, New York, NY,  Carlolyn Laundry, 111 East 128th Street ca. 1929 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 251 East 110th Street Townhouse

The townhouse known as The Saint House in East Harlem is now up on the market for the asking of $1.95 million.  Located just west of 2nd Avenue, the 4-story building has a lower level commercial space used as a gallery, the 2nd floor is an artist studio with the aforementioned saints residing and the the top two floors consist of a duplex.  With 4,910 square feet of space, this is a pretty substantial adaptive reuse building and is only a couple of blocks away from 110th Street Station on Lexington Avenue.  More details and photos on the broker site: LINK

☞ DRINK: Is Nectar Wine Bar Closing?

A Bespoke reader sent in some information this weekend and has reported that Nectar Wine Bar on FDB/8th Avenue will be closing its doors soon. Apparently this coming Friday will be the last day for the eatery by West 121st Street which was one of the many new establishments that populated the lower FDB corridor.  Does anyone have any more information on what is going on with Nectar?

☞ SEE: All About the Pan Am Black Birds

Wednesday, February 22nd, 7:30 PM, A Black History Month Special: All About the Pan Am Black Birds at the Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox at 127th Street. A discussion with original Pan Am Black Birds, augmented by a photo slide show, short clips, and a reception to follow.  The Pan Am Black Birds are the African-American flight attendants whose acclaimed beauty and electric personalities set the standard for career women in the 60's and 70's. These exuberant storytellers will shed fresh light on many aspects of their real-life and undoubtedly larger-than-life experiences. More details on this event and $10 tickets may be found on line: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Mardi Gras at Harlem Tavern

Tuesday, February 21st,  Mardi Gras Celebration at Harlem Tavern, 2153 FDB/8th Avenue and 116th Street. Celebrate Fat Tuesday at the Harlem Tavern with a Creole menu served up for the night and also live music from the band Baby Soda Starting at 7:00 PM tonight.

Friday, February 17, 2012

☞ REMEMBER: 116th and Madison circa 1872

A painting depicting the area around 116th Street and Madison Avenue circa 1872 shows a Harlem surrounded by nature, rocks and a makeshift shanty farm.  Even though Harlem was known for grand country estates for the wealthy at the time, the poor also lived further out and many old photos show shanty towns especially along this area further to the east side.  Today 116th Street has mostly taller tenement buildings mixed in with new residential developments that have arisen in the past decade

George Holston, 116th Street and Madison circa 1872 via the digital collection at the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 221 West 113th Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, February 19th, 1:00 PM-3:00 PM. The house at 221 West 113th Street went into contract back in 2010, then was removed from the market entirely and has been offered up at a new(almost double) price in the past year. After disappearing from the market, the property is up on the market again for a $1.99 million asking price.  Apparently the same family has been living their for decades and the home is being listed a single-family but the space is pretty chopped up.  Check out a photo of the interior after the jump

☞ REVIVE: Update on the Corn Exchange Building

A Times article reveals that the architectural firm selected in 2002 to restore the Corn Exchange Building on East 125th Street is now working on the reconstruction of the official New York City Landmark. As most know by now, the top floors of the buildings were reportedly unstable back in 2009 and had to be demolished but Danois Architects have once again been selected to design the restoration.  The article states that the $16 million new construction to be built on top of the old will include " 31,000 square feet of space, divided between retail (9,000 square feet) and office (22,000 square feet); nearly 1,000 square feet more than in the original structure." Danois apparently has a design already in place to present to the Landmarks Commission but it is yet known wether the newer design will be contextual to the original or if there will be a contemporary addition.  Read more in the New York Times: LINK

Top rendering courtesy of Danois Architect and Animation + Images