Ephemeral New York has a great article out on how the Corn Exchange building (Park/125) – formerly the Mount Morris Bank – has looked in photos over the years.
The Harlem Bank building (built in 1884, and now with Ginjan Cafe on the ground floor), was and is perfectly located for easy access to upstate and Connecticut (using Metro-North) and downtown Manhattan (again using Metro-North, or the 2/3/4/5/6 trains).
The original building was an eclectic, rusticated Romanesque building with brownstone, brick, copper, terracotta, and slate:
When the neighborhood was built out further (note the Lee Building on the other side of the Metro-North tracks), the Corn Exchange building didn’t look much different other than the addition of some exterior blinds on the upper floors (pre-air-conditioning, when exterior blinds were the main way to keep heat out with windows still open)
Note that the upper floors of the building were residential when it was built. Those bay windows, were for apartments, not for offices. Conversion to a purely commercial building came later, around the turn of the century.
In the 1980s (as the tax photo below indicates) the building was abandoned. Note the smashed windows and boarded up exterior.
Finally, by 2011 and after a fire, and precautionary demolition by the city, there was virtually nothing left other than a bricked-up, one-and-a-half-story shell.
And now, renovated, the Corn Exchange building sits unoccupied, other than Ginjan on the ground floor.
56 West 125th Street recently sold for $105 million. The new construction has 141 rental units and retail at street level.
The retail portion is fully leased and the apartments — 46 of which are income-restricted — are in the process of being leased up.