Film Studio

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.

Storefront Academy and the 40’s

The Storefront Academy

The storied Storefront Academy has changed to a Charter School and is now struggling to come online in the COVID-19 era.

The Children’s Storefront was a tuition-free private school in Harlem, founded in 1966 by the poet Ned O’Gorman.  It was the subject of a 1988 documentary film, The Children’s Storefront, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

The mural on their east wall (behind the BP gas station at 129th Street and Park Avenue) is wonderful and inspiring, albeit marred somewhat by the “Now Enrolling” sign.

1940’s Streetview

The wonderful blog Gotham to Go (the labor and love of one of our Madison Avenue neighbors – has a great piece on a wonderful project that stitched together the 1940s tax photos of NYC into a kind-of mid-century street view.

Coal is being delivered on West 129th Street:

And Madison Avenue between 126 and 127 is barren with not a sign of a tree, trash or life:

Notice how there used to be a restaurant at the ground level on the north west corner of 126/Madison:

To see more: