Metro-North Bridge Over The Harlem River

For an olde timey image of crossing from Harlem to The Bronx in 1870, this image from the Museum of the City of New York, can’t be beat. And, remember, at the time, that bridge, and especially that train, were state of the art – precisely why the photo was taken.

Performance at Harlem Rose Garden: Bird Language

Wednesday, June 29 for the following event at 6 PM.

Simona Smirnova is a Lithuanian-born jazz vocalist, composer and folk zither – kanklės player based in New York City. By press described as “Eastern European-tinged jazz/exotica”, she is a fixture in the New York live scene when she’s not touring the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Smirnova’s genre-bending style has a unique theatrical flavor and uncanny vocal improvisation techniques. She deftly implements folkloric chants and Lithuanian zither – kanklės into foundations of jazz and rock. Smirnova’s new album “Bird Language” — channels groundbreaking artists like Björk and Joanna Newsom while exploring the ways that humans are connected to nature. “Bird Language” album is dedicated to the awareness of climate change.

The Harlem Rose Garden is on East 129th Street, just east of 5th Avenue.

EH in PS1

The current show at MOMA’s PS1 – Greater New York – has a number of Harlem artists/images on display. One particularly great collection is a wall of photos from Hiram Maristany, who filmed the unrest and revolution in East Harlem during the Young Lords Era of 1969-70.

Maristany was born in East Harlem and became the official photographer of the Young Lords Party (founded in 1969). His photos of dental clinics, TB testing trucks, the Garbage Offensive, and the takeover of the United Methodist Church (Lex/111), have become the images of this period that captured the frustration, anger, spirit, and pride of the Puerto Rican residents of East Harlem.

The work will be up (in LIC, Queens) until April.

New Building – Park Avenue between 126/127

If you’ve been on Park Avenue above Metro-North you may have seen excavation underway for a new residential building. The building will be 18 stories, face Park Avenue, and have a couple of floors of commercial space below. Artimus is the general contractor.

Harlem and Sugar Hill as Seen Through Postcards

Join the Municipal Art Society on Thursday for a talk about Harlem and Sugar Hill as seen through the lens of turn of the 20th century postcards:

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of the Corn Exchange Building

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.

Further West…

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.