The Harlem African Burial Ground development project has been put on hold and as a consequence, the abandoned MTA bus depot that currently occupies the site remains shuttered. In the past, however, this site has also been the location for a film studio.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio was located between 126/127th and 2nd Avenue and the Willis Avenue Bridge on part, but not all, of the bus depot’s block.
The photo (above) is a 1940’s tax photo of the property. Note the water tower and the large ceremonial towers that would have been dramatically visible to riders on the 2nd Avenue El (the train tracks you see at the top left of the photo).
While this location had advantages in terms of its proximity to transportation and downtown NYC, the ever present roar of the El just outside the front doors must have been a huge impediment to sound recording.
By the 1980’s the bus depot had replaced the studio with a low-slung, 2 story facility. The water tower and the El, both long gone.
The City reports that despite a budget crisis, the MTA continues to plan for extending the Second Avenue Subway into East Harlem. Even though the pandemic-spurred economic crisis has put the project back, the MTA continues to work with building and property owners to try to purchase sites needed for air shafts, emergency exits, subway entrances, etc.
The map below illustrates in orange, properties that might be acquired, and in yellow, the proposed 2nd Avenue subway line:
The agency has started taking steps to prepare for using eminent domain a last resort.
At its July board meeting, the MTA said it has begun the process of acquiring over a dozen properties along Second Avenue and 125th Street through “negotiated voluntary agreements,” according to agency records.
If agreements can’t be reached “in a timely manner,” documents show, the MTA must take preliminary steps under the state’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law to lessen the potential for future delays to the project.
As a New Yorker who first arrived in 1993, I still think of the bridge (or the bridges) as the Triboro, or Triborough. RFK is in my mind, but Triboro always comes out first.
I came across this great image of the Triboro’s span raising (the part that goes over the Harlem river to connect Manhattan to Randall’s Island) in order that the newly constructed Willis Avenue Bridge could be floated up to its site:
Imagine doing that with only 5′ to spare on each side. For more, see:
For years now the gorgeously renovated Corn Exchange Building at Park/125 has been sitting empty (except, of course, for the amazing Ginjan Cafe! which occupies part of the street-level corner). Recently, a new pitch is being made (presumably to commuters on Metro-North trains coming into the city) as seen in the new ad – high up on the back of the building:
Beginning Wednesday, August 5, MTA New York City Transit will provide new overnight bus service for customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and between Manhattan and the Bronx. The new M99 will operate run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between East New York in Brooklyn and the West 42nd Street pier in Manhattan. The new Bx99 will run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between Woodlawn in the Bronx and the West Village serving the east and west sides of Manhattan, crossing Midtown along 57th Street. Please visit mta.info/overnight for more information and use the MyMTA app or call 511 to plan your trip.