Atalanta (sic) Casino

An ephemeral advertisement for the “Atalanta” (sic) Casino, owned by Gerken & Hedden and located at 155th St. & 8th Ave.

The Atlanta Casino (or “Atalanta”) was a 3 story wood-framed entertainment complex that was eventually destroyed by fire in 1898. This suburban complex was served by the elevated railroad that then ran on Eighth avenue terminating immediately in front of the property.   

As Seen In Harlem

Bonus points if you noticed the double rainbow.

World AIDS Day

The Heat Wave

Another Ebay photo of a Harlem nightclub’s interior from June, 1945. This one was called The Heat Wave, and was located on 145th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.

The Heat Wave was located at 266 West 145th Street. The club was active in the 1930s and 1940s under the direction of Louis Metcalf, who also played there until 1946. Hot Lips Page, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, and Lester Young are among those who performed at the Heat Wave; Marlowe Morris was the house pianist.

Today the location is a medical office:

As Seen In Harlem

Blank Check

While the phrase ‘blank check’ may live on, increasing numbers of young people have very little experience with physical checks. When I saw this pristine blank check from the Harlem and Spuyten Duyvil Navigation Co. for sale on Ebay, I was taken by the partially prefilled-out date: “187_”

The image on the left-hand side of the check is also wonderful. It shows the High Bridge when it was exclusively a masonry structure. (A steel span now has replaced the center arches.). You can also see the bucolic Bronx, and yes, a steamship with a paddlewheel, plying the Harlem River.

As Seen In Harlem

Terrorist Bombing in Harlem

In 1914, an otherwise non-descript tenement in East Harlem looked like this:

The location is on Lexington Ave. near 103rd Street East, and remarkably, they repaired this damage – rather than tear down the building (admittedly, the building was only 4 years old at the time – it was built in 1910):

At 9:16 a.m. on July 4, 1914, a premature dynamite explosion in an anarchist bomb factory blew the roof off a tenement at 1626 Lexington Avenue, near 103rd Street, wrecking three floors, killing four people, injuring a score of others and spewing debris for blocks.

The police identified the intended target of the homemade bomb as John D. Rockefeller. Protests were staged at their homes, offices in Manhattan and at their estate in Pocantico Hills in Westchester County, where two of the alleged bomb-makers had once wound up on trial.

The police linked the deceased bombers to the Industrial Workers of the World, specifically to Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, radicals who a few years later would be deported to Russia.

The 1914 explosion killed Charles Berg, Arthur Caron and Carl Hanson, all linked to the Rockefeller assassination plot, and Marie Chavez, who rented a room in the sixth floor apartment but was not believed to have been involved in the conspiracy.

A year later, the police found another bomb hidden in the driveway of the Tarrytown home of John D. Archbold, the president of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.

Marcus Garvey Park Tree Lighting

Lenox and 135th Street

This photo of a Harlem street scene is labeled Lenox and 135th Street, and is dated March 23, 1939:

Where exactly was the photo taken?

First of all, the metal structure on the left (note the rivets holding it together, showing that it’s a metal structure):

is clearly a subway entrance:

that has a newsstand and shoeshine chairs glommed onto it, and an adjacent business called “Subway Shoe Repairing & Hat Renovating Shop”:

Note the retracted awnings that would be extended during sunny, hot summers (no airconditioning) on the buildings:

indicating (as much as the bundled up pedestrians do) that this is a chilly day:

But, where exactly was the photo taken? The shadows suggest that this is likely a view of the north side of a street. Looking at Google Street view, it’s clear that no 1939-era buildings exist on any of the 4 corners.

However, all of the subway entrances are oriented with Lenox Avenue and are located on Lenox Avenue and not on West 135th Street. As a result, the photo must be showing either the north-east corner (where the hospital is now), or the south-west corner, where 485 Lenox now stands:

In the end, the shadows prove that the photo is showing the southwest corner of 135th Street and Lenox Avenue – where 485 Lenox now stands. The long shadows indicate that it’s early morning and the men getting their shoes shined are getting ready for the day, and the relatively few window awnings suggest that few people in apartments that faced east thought it worth investing in this sun-blocking feature when the intense heat mostly beat down on south and west facing windows.

Renaming Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses

Assemblymember Gibbs is convening an effort to rename Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses – both are currently named after unabashedly racist men (and Thomas Jefferson, of course, bought/’kept’ enslaved people).

1936 Harlem’s ‘Voodoo Macbeth’

Before Citizen Kane and The War of the Worlds, leading Broadway actress Rose McClendon and producer John Houseman convince a gifted but untested 20-year-old Orson Welles to direct Shakespeare’s Macbeth with an all-Black cast in Harlem.

Reimagined in a Haitian setting, this revolutionary 1936 production, which came to be known as “Voodoo Macbeth,” was fraught with cast/director clashes – particularly between Orson and Rose – who played Lady Macbeth – over everything from scene blocking to crew hires. A larger, political storm also lingered nearby with Washington figures looking to shut down “communist propaganda.”

The movie ‘Voodoo Macbeth’ which came out a few weeks ago, is based on this amazing true story of a young Orson Welles directing the first production of “Macbeth” with an all-Black cast.

The movie “Voodoo Macbeth” somehow acquired a whopping ten directors and eight writers and controversially includes some difficult subject matter, including Orson Welles performing in blackface.

According to one of the directors, Orson Welles did indeed put on blackface and go onstage during one of his productions. The team decided to put the spotlight on the justified outrage that ensued rather than center the scene on Welles or excuse his actions.

“We wanted to show the anger that the other characters had against it,” Salnave said. “I think it was just as, you know, discriminatory and hurtful then. But they just maybe, perhaps didn’t have the voice or the ability to voice their opinions on it and put their foot down and say that they really didn’t like it. So we invoked a little bit, I think, of like a modern touch on that, but it gets the point across that, you know, it is a part of our history, and it’s not right.”

Turkish Baths

Urban Archive has a great article from Landmark East Harlem on the Mount Morris (Turkish) Baths that were located at the corner of 125th and Madison:

https://www.urbanarchive.org/stories/1P3aRw1DV44

Continuously in use from 1893-2003, Mt. Morris was the only bathhouse in New York City that specifically catered to Black men. The Baths started serving a predominantly gay clientele, probably sometime during the Harlem Renaissance. Those frequenting the baths during that period included Countee Cullen, Harold Jackman, Carl Van Vechten, and Lincoln Kirstein. Up until the 1960s, it was the only gay bathhouse in the city to admit Black customers.

7th Avenue

Ephemeral New York highlighted a postcard recently that featured a broad, earthen boulevard, stately apartment buildings, and horses and carriages.

The postcard clearly states it was taken on 7th Avenue, but where? Ephemeral New York suggested that the regularity of buildings on view would suggest it’s uptown, in Harlem.

Taking a careful look at the colored image, you can see a commercial space on a corner, with a neighboring building that has a distinctive ground floor with segmented masonry details (note the onlookers, observing the horses and carriages):

Further on, into the distance, you can see a red bricked building with a limestone 1st floor and protruding cornices at the top. Note the two windows from the corner, then an open courtyard, then 4 windows, then another courtyard.

Using Google Streetview, the location becomes clear. The commercial building in the postcard that seems to spell out …65LOW… ? Is on the corner of ACP and West 112 Street, and now houses the New Ebony Motel:

Note how a former entrance has been blocked.

And the distinctive red brick and limestone buildings north of the New Ebony Hotel are clearly still around:

As Seen In Harlem

Harlem Hellfighters Photo

A rare photo – turned into a postcard by a Newark photo studio – was put up for auction on Ebay for almost $1,000.

The photo shows WW1-era Black soldiers proudly displaying their insignia and medals.

The ALL CAPS description from the Ebay seller is as follows:

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY RARE WW1 REAL PHOTO POSTCARD OF 2 AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN THE 369TH US INFANTRY KNOWN AS THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS,THEIR RECORD SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.THEY APPEAR TO BE BROTHERS BOTH ARE WEARING CROIX DE GUERRE MEDALS.IF YOU COLLECT WW1 IMAGES YOU KNOW HOW RARE THIS PHOTO IS.IT WAS FOUND WITH THE OTHER AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS PHOTO I HAVE LISTED,THAT ONE HAS A FAMILY NAME BARTOW.THIS HAS A NEWARK N.J PHOTOGRAPHER STAMP ON THE BACK.BOTH ARE WEARING COILED RATTLESNAKE PATCHES AND THEIR OVERCOATS IN FRONT OF THEM HAVE THE COILED RATTLESNAKE PATCHES.YOU WILL NEVER FIND ANOTHER ONE OF THESE POSTCARDS.THIS HAS BEEN IN MY COLLECTION FOR MANY YEARS

As Seen In East Harlem

NYC Election: Who Won and Voter Turnout

Estey Piano Company and the 3rd Avenue Bridge

An Ebay posting of the 3rd Avenue Bridge in stereoscope:

And while it’s hard to see in the photo above, there are horse-drawn wagons on the right, and pedestrians on the left, all waiting for the perpendicular center span to repivot back to allow passage for terrestrial forms of transportation (clearly a boat of some sort must have prompted this swing bridge to swing open.

Below are the pedestrians waiting (note the safety railing separating them from a plunge into the Harlem river):

And below, a close-up of the horse-drawn wagons:

Note, the building popping up above the bridge’s arch, on the Bronx side of the Harlem River. This building, now known as the Bronx’s Clock Tower (and currently a residential and commercial building), was at the time of this 1890 stereoscope, the Estey Piano Company’s building in Port Morris.

The Estey Organ Company was an organ manufacturer based in Brattleboro, Vermont, founded in 1852 by Jacob Estey. At its peak, the company was one of the world’s largest organ manufacturers, employed about 700 people, and sold its high-quality items as far away as Africa, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

Estey built around 500,000 to 520,000 pump organs between 1846 and 1955. Estey also produced pianos, made in The Bronx in what was known as the Estey Piano Company Factory – now the Clock Tower Building.

Harlem Arts Stroll

ART, FOOD, AND CULTURE.

NOVEMBER 12, 2022, 1PM TO 6PM

It’s about Harlem from 110th to 155th Streets with its galleries and businesses welcoming you.

Spend time with:

CALABAR GALLERY @calabargallery

CLAIRE OLIVER GALLERY @claireolivergallery

KENTE ROYAL GALLERY @kente_royal_gallery

UNDERGROUND GALLERY @reginaldrousseauarts

HEATH GALLERY @heathgallery

ILON ART GALLERY @ilonartgallery

L’ SPACE DE REVE @lespacedereve

DIASPORA NOW @cafaartfair

ARTISTIC NOISE @artistic_noise

JVS PROJECT SPACE @jvsprojectspace

AHL FOUNDATION @ahlfoundation

FACES OF HARLEM @facesofharlem

ART & FOOD will be at:

NBHD BRULEE COFFEE SHOP @nbhd_brulee

It’s very much local and global. Come experience of Harlem culture. Email [email protected]