Thursday, January 31, 2013

☞ REMEMBER: Martha Stewart Visits Harlem

Over a decade ago, Martha Stewart did a segment on Harlem's great architecture with historian Michael Henry Adams on hand.  Those who do not quite remember this event can check out the full segment on the Martha Stewart site: LINK

☞ SHOP: Hookah Lounge Arriving in South Harlem

A Bespoke reader just sent in the above photo which reveals what the new establishment at West 121st Street will be.  A hookah lounge called Zoe Cafe will be opening just around the corner from FDB/8th Avenue at a site of a former bodega.  There is definitely a hookah trend that is happening in the city but the awning for this new business seems more on the moderate side so we are not sure how this one will turn out.

☞ INTRODUCING: Summer Camp 2013 at HSA

The Harlem School of the Arts is now offering early discounts for their summer camp.  Go to the official website for more information on how to enroll:

☞ QUESTION: Ask Harlem Bespoke

If any readers out there have a question they would like to throw out to the Bespoke audience on neighborhood organizations, restoration services, property search or history, just send them over and we can possibly have it written up as a future post:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

☞ DWELL: What's Up with the Hughes House?

We received a couple of inquiries from folks perplexed about the status of the Langston Hughes house at East 127th Street.  It was reported in the papers over a year ago that a bid was accepted for the poets landmark brownstone and the listing was soon removed.  One buyer wrote tin and said that they sent in a couple of bids at the time and was told by the broker that the house has sold only to find out now that this is not the case.  Does anyone have any tips on the situation at hand?  The last asking price was $1 million before it was removed from the market.

☞ DRINK: Wine and Beer Opening at Lenox Coffee

Friday, February 1st, 7:00PM-9:00PM, Lenox Coffee Wine and Beer Debut Event, 129th Street and Lenox avenue.   To celebrate wine and beer service at Lenox Coffee, this bespoke java shop will be extending hours and celebrating this Friday with half priced drinks.  $5 wine and beers from 7pm-9pm. Hours will be extended until midnight on the weekends going forward starting this Friday.  Check out more on the Lenox Coffee Facebook site: LINK

☞ ARCHITECTURE: The Lions of West 148th

We are always looking out for interesting architectural details in the neighborhood and came across these green lions on West 148th Street.  The prewar building was a recent condo conversion that apparently sold out and the developers did a great job in restoring the details.  Lions appear to be a popular motif in Harlem but we have also found couple of griffins in the past: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Harlem Stop 'N' Swap

Harlem STOP ‘N’ SWAP® Saturday, February 23, 2013, 12pm-3pm Salvation Army Harlem Temple 540 Lenox Avenue, (Entrance at the corner of 138th Street).   Clear out clutter and help reduce NYC's waste at GrowNYC's Stop 'N' Swap by bringing clean, portable, reusable items to donate to a new home, or simply take home items that are useful to you. It's all FREE! No furniture/large items. Please arrive by 2pm if you have things to give away. Visit for more info or call 212-788-7964.

☞ CONTACT: Got a Harlem Bepoke Tip?

Send any tips and especially photos over our way if you have stories on your section of Harlem:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

☞ DWELL: 722 St. Nicholas Sold Lower

Number 722 St. Nicholas Avenue on Sugar Hill was reduced from $2.5 million last spring, then went down in price in price to $1.949 million and finally closed for $1.79 million.  The 18-foot-wide,  2-family building is located right by the express trains on 145th Street and close to a commercial hub within that retail corridor of Hamilton Heights but still did not reach the higher price points within the landmark neighborhoods.  Everything on the inside looks updated with some original details intact but the kitchen finishes appear to be on the more moderate end.  Contrasting neutral paint would have also highlighted the window moulding and fireplaces more dramatically in our opinion and might have helped out with this key selling point.  Check out interior photos on the broker site:  LINK

☞ REVIVE: Scaffolding at 192 Lenox Avenue

A small crew of men have been slowly gutting 192 Lenox Avenue for some time and it finally appears that the landmark building in the Mount Morris Park Historic District will be restored.  Scaffolding has gone up in the past month or so at this corner of Lenox by 120th Street and new permits are up that states a change from class "B" dwelling units to class "A" dwelling units.  This is the last row of townhouses on lower Lenox that need a fix up so let's hope the other ones on the block will follow accordingly in the near future.

☞ EAT: Harvist Debuts on Thursday

The new restaurant at the Kalahari building called Harvist will open up for dinner service on Thursday. New York magazine features the 130-seat eatery at 46 West 116th Street in a recent post and reveals that the offering will be inspired partly by regional South Carolina cooking and also a bit of international flair.  Folks should expect extravagant shrimp and grits accented with savory bacon along with an unexpected red velvet souffle for dessert. For more about Harvist, check out the NY magazine Grub Street writeup: LINK

☞ SEE: Dance Theatre of Harlem 2013

The newly relaunched Dance Theatre of Harlem Company makes its much-anticipated return to New York with an eclectic mix of new and familiar works that highlight the range and diversity of this legendary company.  Performances will begin from April 10th through April 14th at Jazz@Lincoln Center.  Tickets may be purchased online via the Dance Theatre of Harlem site: LINK

Photo by Rachel Neville courtesy the Dance Theatre of Harlem Facebook

☞ FOLLOW: Harlem Bespoke Via Twitter

Harlem Bespoke also has a Twitter account for those who want daily updates about stuff that's happening in the neighborhood. If you Twitter, check out our Harlem tweets and join here: LINK.

Monday, January 28, 2013

☞ ARCHITECTURE: The Odeon Theatre c. 1919

A sketch from 1919 shows the original facade of the Odeon Theatre at West 145th Street.  Today, this building still stands just east of FDB/8th Avenue and a good portion of the ornamental details have been retained.  The church that owns the former theater has also left the original hand painted signage on the side of the building intact and what remains of the Odeon appears to be in relatively good condition. Read more about the history of this unofficial Harlem landmark in our past post: LINK

Archival rendering courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 213 West 139th Sold in January

Number 213 West 139th Street within the Strivers Row Landmark District went into contract after being on the market for two weeks earlier in January and now has sold in a very quick deal. This 5-family building was listed at the end of 2012 for $1.1 million and apparently that was the right price for a quick sale.  The McKim, Mead and White building appears to be broken up into rental units so it is unclear on what the interiors looks like currently.  More details can be found on Streeteasy: LINK

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Viewed Posts

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

1. Sugar Hill Children's Museum Rises (1) 
2. Ellington on the Park Sells Out  (1)
3. 116th and 8th Avenue circa 1905 (2) 
4. The Log Cabin on West 133rd 
5. A New Look for 240 Manhattan Ave (15)
6. Outdoor Dining Coming to Harlem Public (3)
7. Gap Outlet Arriving on 125th Street (33)
8. More Details on Financing PS 186 (2)
9. 353 West 120th Street in Contract (2)
10. 139 West 123rd Sold in December (1)

☞ SUBSCRIBE: Harlem Bespoke via Email

Get daily Harlem Bespoke posts via email the moment they are published by subscribing below.  There's also the Harlem Bespoke Facebook site so "like" us today and get connected: LINK

Enter your e-mail address:

Friday, January 25, 2013

☞ DRINK: Craft Beer Now at Lenox Coffee

Lenox Coffee at 129th and Lenox finally set up their beer fountain and all is ready to go for the weekend.   Hours will only be until 7:00PM for now but expect that to change by February first!  More details on the Central Harlem shop can be found at:

☞ INTRODUCING: Ellington on the Park Sells Out

Ellington on the Park at 148th Street and Bradhurst Avenue has sold out the remaining market rate units according to a recent press release.  This mixed income building had a 133-units in total with the majority listed as affordable which sold quickly initially.  The last 10 market rate apartments sold in 2012 and thus the building facing Jackie Robinson Park is another success story in the revitalization of Harlem's housing stock.  This is a big difference from over a couple of decades ago when Harlem's population was rapidly declining and the government had to give away uptown brownstones to anyone who wanted them: LINK

☞ REVIVE: 240 Manhattan Avenue Rises

The empty lot facing the south corner of Morningside Park at 110th Street will no longer be empty in the coming months.  A new condo development called 240 Manhattan Avenue broke ground last year and now the first floor is starting to rise.  There will be a total of 22 floors altogether when the new construction finally finished so expect some major changes to the skyline for this section of South Harlem.

Check out the rendering of the final building design in our previous post: LINK

☞ LISTEN: Slave Narratives Then & Now at MJM

Saturday, February 2, from 2:00PM-3:00PM Black History Month Lecture: Fugitive Art & Fugitive Testimony: Slave Narratives Then and Now at the Morris-Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace between 160th and 161st Streets.  In this lecture Professor Janet Neary brings together contemporary “visual slave narratives” and classic slave narratives from the 19th century to examine the way black artists and writers respond to institutional constraints placed on their cultural production. This lecture is sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. FREE but advanced registration is required. Call 212 923 8008.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

☞ REMEMBER: Sharing a Stage Uptown

The above is a great video piece on the Jewish community of entertainers in Harlem during the early part of the 20th century. Harlem was then divided into two communities with the Jewish neighborhood located between 110th and 125th Street and the African American neighborhood that emerged above 125th Street to the far reaches of 155th.  Those two communities joined together to make a living off of the music scene of the era which the above documentary explains.  The exhibit showcased is currently up at Settepani on Lenox Avenue.   See more at The Jewish Daily Forward website: LINK

☞ DWELL: 465 West 143rd Street Townhouse

A limestone townhouse adjacent to the Hamilton Heights historic district has arrived on the market for the initial asking of $2.799 million.   This 3-family home has been restored in a way that all of the original details have remained and only the kitchen (and presumably the baths) have been gut renovated  with high end finishes.  Express subways are close by and and small commercial hub is within walking distance on 145th Street.  More details on the broker site: LINK

☞ EAT: Outdoor Dining Coming to Harlem Public

Harlem Public just announced on Facebook that they have been approved for seating outdoor. Hamilton Heights does not have much outdoor dining and Harlem Public intends to open this section during the cold months apparently. The lower photo shows the original rendering with the seating in place outside. Let's hope they have some great heat lamps set up once things come together.  More details can be found on the Harlem Public Facebook site: LINK

☞ REVIVE: More Details on Financing PS 186

The last time a major newspaper reported on PS 186 was when The New York Times stated a couple of years ago that it would be demolished to make way for a new building but details for restoring the historic school building has now been finalized as of last summer.  A Harlem Community Development Corporation summary page has the details as below for the financing of the $79.3 million project which ends over two decades of feuding within the community board on protecting the building at 145th Street.

 "The build program for the Project has been modified. Instead of demolishing the existing structure and building a larger new structure BGCH will retain and renovated the existing, landmark-eligible building which will house approximately 90 units of housing in addition to the new facility for BGCH. The community facility and retail components of the build program, for where there were no anchor tenants and for which project financing could not be secured, have been eliminated. Retention of the existing building makes the Project eligible for historic tax credit financing. The application for the low income tax credits for the residential part of the Project will be submitted in June 2012. Closing on construction financing is expected to occur by year-end 2012."

Some have been questioning the source of financing and the HCDC document has "NYC Housing Development Corporation, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Tax Credit Equity, New York State and City capital grant funds" all listed: LINK

Building rendering via Dattner Architects

☞ BESPOKE: Six Month Membership at BBraxton

The boutique barber shop BBraxton at 1400 Fifth Avenue and 116th Street is offering a 6-month Membership for one lucky winner of their photo competition.  Purchase services at BBRAXTON between the dates of January 22 and February 12, 2013 and Tweet, Face Book, or Instagram a photo of yourself at your next appointment and you will be entered.  Tel: 212.289.3200

Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day! 6-Month Membership includes: This "Special" membership is for a 6 month weekly haircut service and is non-transferable. It will include Premium spirits / Beverages and access to all BBRAXTON VIP Events. Past Events have included Nat Sherman Cigar Tasting, Harlem Vintage Wine Tasting, and Fashion Week Celebrations: LINK

☞ QUESTION: Ask Harlem Bespoke

If any readers out there have a question they would like to throw out to the Bespoke audience on neighborhood organizations, restoration services, property search or history, just send them over and we can possibly have it written up as a future post:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

☞ REMEMBER: The Log Cabin on West 133rd

The brownstone church at west 133rd Street just around the corner from ACP/7th Avenue has kept a piece of the Harlem Renaissance alive on its lower level.  Walking by number 168 West 133rd, one will notice a house like structure built at the garden level. This used to be the entrance of a speakeasy call The Log Cabin where within Billy Holiday once sang.  Originally, there probably were actual logs on the facade structure but today it looks more like synthetic siding has taken over.  Nevertheless, the institution did not have to preserve this odd icon but has apparently done so in respect for the past.  Check out the comprehensive video on the once notorious jazz block of West 133rd Street in our past post: LINK

☞ DWELL: 139 West 123rd Sold in December

Number 139 West 123d Street sold back in 2010 and returned on the market last year in a half finished state for the initial asking of $1.3 million.  Interest might have been strong for this brownstone on the cusp of the Mount Morris Historic District since the price was increased to $1.45 million and now the house has finally sold.  This 20-foot-wide townhouse has been gutted and the cornice had been removed but eventually it closed for $1.3 million.  Apparently the paperwork is in order for a 3-family conversion and this street is in a prime Harlem location close to express trains and better amenities.

☞ DRINK: Casual Karaoke at Cove Lounge

Wednesdays, 7:00PM, Casual Karaoke at Cove Lounge, 325 Lenox Avenue, between 126th and 127th Street. Cove Lounge on upper Lenox has a formal dress code for most nights but Wednesdays are casual these days with free Karaoke as the main feature. Check out the  20,000 songs on the playlist and each Karaoke participant gets a free Cove shot.

☞ INTRODUCING: HSA Winter Music Festival

January 25th at 6:30pm, as Grammy Award-winner Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra take center stage at the Harlem School of the Arts Winter Festival, 645 St. Nicholas Avenue at 141st Street.

Get even more jazzed at the amazing lineup of HSA music & vocal favorites that will be featured on Jan 24th and Jan 26th - go to the HSA website for a full schedule of this FREE festival's exciting performances: LINK

☞ FOLLOW: Harlem Bespoke Via Twitter

Harlem Bespoke also has a Twitter account for those who want daily updates about stuff that's happening in the neighborhood. If you Twitter, check out our Harlem tweets and join here: LINK.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

☞ REMEMBER: 116th and 8th Avenue circa 1905

An old photo taken over a century ago shows the fully developed block of 116th Street just west of 8th Avenue.  One can clearly see Morningside Park in the distance along with Columbia University on top of the hill alongside several new prewar buildings on Morningside Drive.  The lower photo shows the same block today with a few of the buildings missing on 116th and the public transportation has since been replaced by buses.

Archival image courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

☞ DWELL: 353 West 120th Street in Contract

Number 353 West 120th Street is the neighbor to the home formerly owned by Marcia Gay Harden in South Harlem and went up on the market last July for $2.55 million but was reduced eventually to $2.325 million. Marcia Gay Harden's house sold for $2.75 million in 2012 and the brownstones on the block located just east of Morningside Park have since been trying to reach that lofty price range.  It now appears that this block might just be successful at selling townhouses over $2 million since Number 353 is now in contract

What is the difference between the two properties since the location is pretty desirable for transportation and retail?  It's all basically the interior renovations that separate this 17-foot-wide home from that of the notable actress.  The house at Number 353 has been chopped up into a 3-family home and the interiors are on the moderate side with basic finishes. On the other hand, the Harden House interior looks like a decorator with an eye for historic details designed the place: LINK.

Check out more details on 353 West 120th and get contact information on Streeteasy: LINK

☞ REVIVE: Sugar Hill Children's Museum Rises

The $80.2 million stacked cube design of the Sugar Hill Children's Museum is quickly rising now on 155th Street just east of St. Nicholas Avenue.  This new construction has now been dubbed the Sugar Cube because of its striking geometric layout and the 13-story building will also have 124 units of affordable housing.  Everything appears to be moving quickly now and the entire complex should be ready by early 2014.  More in the Daily News: LINK

☞ SEE: Comedy at Covo Sunday

Sunday, January 27th, 7:30PM, COMEDY COVO at COVO's upstair lounge, 701 West 135th Street at 12th Avenue. Come check out the monthly comedy show with some of NYC's best comedians in one of Harlem's most unique lounges at the top of a former railroad station. Sunday night's show will be hosted by NYC comedian William Mullin and features comics headliner Michael Che, Kara Klenk,  Stephanie Holmes, alongside DJ Chris Washington.

This FREE comedy event will also offer half price panini, $3 beer and $5 drink specials.

☞ READ: Last Week's Most Viewed Posts

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

1. Gap Outlet Arriving on 125th Street (30)
2. 2130 ACP Condos Convert to Rentals (7)
3. Wafels and Dinges on FDB (2)
4. Second Restaurant for Doug E. Fresh (2)
5. Doug E.'s Chicken and Waffles (7)
6. Harlem Hebrew on St. Nicholas (4)
7. Wafels and Dinges Returns (4)
8. What's Up With Cedric? (1)
9. More Missing Details for Lenox Lounge (6)
10. Mailboxes for Brownstones? (9)

☞ SUBSCRIBE: Harlem Bespoke via Email

Get daily Harlem Bespoke posts via email the moment they are published by subscribing below.  There's also the Harlem Bespoke Facebook site so "like" us today and get connected: LINK

Enter your e-mail address:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

☞ LISTEN: Martin Luther King Day at Ginny's

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama’s second inauguration, Ginny’s Supper Club at 310 Lenox Avenue will host two special events. The first is an inauguration watching party at 11:00AM on Monday, January 21st. Guests can order from Marcus Samuelsson's acclaimed upstairs restaurant and Presidential favorite Red Rooster Harlem, while watching a live-feed of the inauguration downstairs at Ginny’s Supper Club. 310 Lenox Ave is the perfect spot for the celebrations; in 2011, the President himself dined there, and in 2009, Samuelsson was chosen to cook the Administration's first State Dinner.

The celebration of Dr. King’s dream continues into the evening of Monday, January 21st, with a two-set special performance by Amanda Brown of The Voice. Brown’s performance will be complemented by excerpts of Dr. King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech. Ginny’s small plates and playful cocktails will round out the celebratory evening. Guests can make reservations by calling 212- 421-3821 in advance. There is no cover. Shows start at 8:00PM and 10:00PM.  More details at:

Friday, January 18, 2013

☞ DRINK: Beer Arriving at Lenox Coffee

Lenox Coffee on 129th and Lenox Avenue just posted a Facebook photo of the above beer fountain installed on top of their new counter area.  Beer and wine should be arriving next week so prepare for this little bespoke coffee shop to be the new hangout spot during evening hours in this part of Central Harlem.  We have not heard what kind of beer they will be serving but from the vintage looks of this contraption, they should be pretty spot on.

☞ DWELL: 476 West 142nd Street Townhouse

OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, January 20th, by appointment only.  Number 476 West 142nd Street has been on the market since November and is one of the higher priced properties on the market. This 17-foot-wide home located adjacent to Convent Avenue's picturesque historic district in Hamilton Heights is asking for $2.895 million and has not a had a price cut as of yet.  The townhouse appears to have been converted from an SRO at one point and all the infrastructure seems to be updated but the interior is pretty much for the minimalist minded.  Express trains at 145th Street are a good 8 minute walk away but the view along the course is one of the best of in town.  More interior photos and appointment information can be found on the broker site: LINK

☞ INTRODUCING: Wafels and Dinges Returns

Tuesday, January 22nd, 6:00PM, Wafels and Dinges truck returns to FDB between 118th and 119th Street.  Is Frederick Douglass Boulevard ready to have a regular gourmet food truck arrive every week? Wafel and Dinges arrived on a Harlem block at 118th Street to test out the response and it was a huge success.  A continuous line with as many as 20 people formed and lasted from 6:30PM to 9:30 PM last week and so the Belgian wafel purveyors will return again this coming Tuesday.  If all continues to be successful for the next visit, Wafel and Dinges will start making this section of Harlem in front of Best Yet a weekly business hangout.

☞ SEE: Fore at the Studio Museum

Sunday, January 20th, 1:00PM-2:00PM, Fore at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125th Street.Enjoy an interactive and informative tour of Fore with a knowledgeable museum educator. Fore is the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Studio Museum’s “F” series, which includes Freestyle (2001), Frequency (2005–06) and Flow (2008). Like its popular and critically acclaimed predecessors, Fore is a non-thematic group presentation reflecting a multitude of ideas, approaches and processes. The tour will have something for everyone: adults, families and kids of all ages are welcome: LINK