Posts Tagged With: harlem history

Landmarked Corn Exchange Bank Building Could be Redeveloped

By Jeff Mays
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

The Corn Exchange Building at Park Avenue and East 125th Street is a shadow of its former self, having been sliced from six stories to a two-story high stub because of its decrepit condition.

Now, officials at the city’s Economic Development Corporation want to hear proposals on how to redevelop the landmarked structure, which was built in 1889.

“The purpose is to understand what the interest is,” said Kyle Sklerov, a spokesperson for EDC. “We think it is an important site because it is located in the heart of Harlem’s commercial corridor and it has been underutilized for a long time.”

The building sits on a 4,300-square-foot lot and is zoned for both commercial and residential uses. The building was designed by architects Lamb & Rich in the Queen Anne and “Romanesque Revival” styles. It was originally constructed for Mount Morris Bank, which was absorbed by the Corn Exchange Bank in 1913, according to reports.
The building eventually fell into the hands of the city due to tax foreclosure in the late 1970s.

Christopher London, an architectural historian and board member of the Historic Districts Council, called the building the finest example of architecture along 125th Street. He first began to admire the building a quarter century ago when it was still intact.

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1970s Harlem Brought Back to Life at Studio Museum

Mr. Moore's Bar-B-Que, 125 Street, 1976 - PHOTO CREDIT Dawoud Bey (Courtesy Studio Museum in Harlem)

by Jeff Mays

HARLEM — The photographs — proud men and women frozen in time — reveal a Harlem that many people can’t imagine.

A new exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem by photographer Dawoud Bey and titled “Harlem, USA” showcases an intimate, black and white portrait of black life in the historic neighborhood in the 1970s — a daily life that was rarely seen in the media.

One of Bey’s photos, which were taken in Harlem from 1975 to 1979, shows a well dressed older black man wearing a top hat and a barber posing proudly in front of his chair. In another, a woman cradles her baby and in another a boy poses in front of a now-demolished movie theater.

“It was one of those moments when images of African-Americans were not always positive,” said Lauren Haynes, assistant curator at the Studio Museum of Harlem. “They capture the subjects in every day moments.”

Bey, who had family members who lived in Harlem, was connected to the neighborhood. His mother and father met at church in Harlem. Bey’s interest in photography was sparked as a teenager after seeing the photographs of famed Harlem photographer James VanDerZee at his 1969 “Harlem on My Mind” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bey combined his twin interests when he began strolling the streets of Harlem. The Studio Museum in Harlem first displayed Bey’s photographs in his first museum exhibit in 1979.

Haynes said Bey has continued a relationship with the museum during the past three decades. He now teaches at Columbia College of Chicago but recently worked at the museum’s “Expanding Walls” program for teenagers.

“There’s a timeless quality about a lot of the images,” said Haynes. “You will still find a lot of scenes like this in Harlem but the faces have changed.”

The Studio Museum in Harlem is located at 144 West 125th Street. Bey’s exhibit will be on display through March 13.

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New York Times: A Harlem Cultural Hub Is Threatened by Debt

In 2002 the National Black Theater, a cultural anchor of Harlem, invited the owners of Nubian Heritage, a growing beauty-care company with an African pedigree, to invest in its sprawling building at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street.

The theater, created in the turmoil of the civil rights movement, had owned the building for 19 years. But now it faced foreclosure, as large construction loans remained unpaid.

Read more about the troubled theater in Harlem from the New York Times article.

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