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).

Join The HNBA October Meeting, Tonight at 7pm

We’ll be discussing the future of HDFCs with Joshua Clennon, the Metro North viaduct replacement, and the 2nd Avenue Subway with MTA. All welcome.

Topic: HNBA Meeting
Time: Oct 11, 2022, 7:00 PM

Join Zoom Meeting

Lenox Ave. Prepares for Halloween

Join MMPCIA on Saturday, October 22nd in beautifying and decorating the central median on Lenox Ave. from West 118th Street up to West 124th Street.

Everyone is welcome to help prepare for Halloween.

The Uptowner Looks At The E. 126th Street Injection Site

Columbia University’s newspaper The Uptowner has a good article on the nearly 1 year-old injection site run by OnPoint on East 126th Street:


Harlem’s Museum of Civil Rights

The National Urban League has chosen Jennifer Scott to be the founding executive director and lead curator of The Urban Civil Rights Museum being built on West 125th Street between ACP and Lenox.

The new museum will center the Urban League’s Empowerment Center in Harlem and house the NUL’s headquarters along with 170 units of affordable housing, retailers like Target and Trader Joe’s, and office space with below-market rent for community groups and nonprofits including One Hundred Black Men of New York and Harlem’s Jazzmobile.

The $242 million complex is scheduled to open in early 2025.

The museum will showcase the “long fight for justice in the North” – like the Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance – “from early African American communities to the current Black Lives Matter era,” Scott said.

Scott also has longstanding ties to New York City. An anthropologist and public historian, she has taught for more than 20 years at The New School on subjects including race and ethnic studies, cultural anthropology, and civic engagement. She also worked for nearly a decade at Brooklyn’s Weeksville Heritage Center, a memorial to a free Black community living there before the Civil War, where she helped redevelop the center’s programming and restore the historic site.

For more, see this Gothamist article.


A true piece of Harlem ephemera, a matchbook for a Harlem locksmith for sale on Ebay.

The copy promotes a great deal.

Today, a ‘Gourmet’ smoke shop and deli occupy this location:

Affordable Housing vs Truck Depot

Streetsblog has an examination on the fallout of Council Member Kristin Jordan’s axing of a 50% affordable housing project at Lenox/145th Street.

“This is a particularly clear example of what happens when politicians prioritize opposing every zoning change over their constituents’ needs,” said Logan Phares, the political director of Open New York. “New York’s people, not its vehicles, urgently need a roof over their heads. Amid climate change’s recent effect on the five boroughs, as well as a rise in homelessness and traffic deaths, it’s disappointing to see that the Council member took the route that will lead to more trucks on the road rather than more residents with a place to sleep at night.”

The article looks at the history, hijinks, and potential health fall-out from the On45 development project:

Basketball Clinics

Jimi Hendrix in Harlem: September 5th, 1969

On September 5th, 1969 Jimi Hendrix performed at the Harlem Street Fair at the corner of 139th Street and Lenox Avenue. Only 26, Hendrix had wanted to reestablish a relationship with Black fans “my people”. He arrived characteristically late only to find that the crowd had dwindled to a few hundred Harlem residents.

Harlem had been Hendrix’s home on the east coast before being whisked off to London by a British promoter who saw Jimi Hendrix as having incredible megastar potential.

This homecoming couldn’t have been more different from what he expected. Residents had given up, and considered the show nearly over and his international star power was not holding the community in thrall.

After taking to the stage, a crowd member threw a bottle at Hendrix, which shattered against one of the speakers. Added to this, barrages of eggs covered the stage, a testament to just how the local community felt they had been let down by Hendrix. Nevertheless, Hendrix and his band played while the angry crowd gradually dispersed.

“They didn’t like him,” Charles R. Cross says in his Hendrix biography Room Full of Mirrors. “He was jeered. People heckled him.”

This was deeply ironic, of course, as race had deeply frustrated Hendrix and he hated that he was caught between being reduced to a stereotype by many white fans while being rejected by many in the Black community.

The YouTube link (below) while not a video recording, gives a sense of just how much the performance might have come off as artful noise to those who remained on Lenox and 139th Street that evening.

A Town Hall on Property Taxes and Sanitation

28th Precinct Community Council Meeting

Wednesday, June 8th – 6:30 PM

Waiting to Open

A photograph from October 1977 recently came on Ebay. The scene is a corner of Lenox Avenue and 124th Street, where a line of men awaits entry into a liquor store.

Here is the back of the print.

The location is now the home of Harlem Shake. Note how the liquors sign on the corner of the building, remains:

Trash Talk

The City has an article about the DSNY garage at 99th Street and the stop-gap, open-air new location on East 127th Street:


Photos from Above

The 125th Street BID shared some great photos of Harlem from high vantage points.

This one is looking south on Lenox from 125th Street:

And below is a view 180 degrees different – North on Lenox:

To learn more about the 125th Street BID, see:

Dapper Dan

The impact of Dapper Dan on Hip Hop fashion continues to reverberate in the 20th Century.

L’Officiel has a good story about Dapper Dan and Gucci (among other fashion houses):


Dapper Dan’s 24/7 retail outlet was located on East 125th Street where the Harlem Children’s Zone is now located.