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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner


Matthew Trebek and partners open Pizza by Lucille's, with coffee and cocktails coming two doors down

The corner of Macombs Place and 150th Street–just off Frederick Douglass Boulevard–is about to become quite the destination. The first reason is already here: Pizza by Lucille's. The step-above slice joint is the latest venture from Matthew Trebek (the son of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek) and Nodar Mosiashvili–the team behind Hamilton Heights' popular Oso–and a third partner, Alexander Perilla, who runs the pizzeria. While the kitchen finds its rhythm, the menu is offering just a few basics: a traditional 18-inch pie that can be ordered whole or by the slice, plus garlic knots. The pizza comes plain or with pepperoni, and crust as the star: "It's got this crispy-but-soft thing going on," says P

Claire Oliver Gallery moving from Chelsea to Harlem

See you later, Chelsea. Hello, Harlem! The Claire Oliver Gallery, formerly located in the heart of Chelsea's gallery district, is moving on up to 2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The ground-floor Harlem space, right next door to coffee shop Proof (formerly ACP Coffee), currently has a construction shed out front. The gallery has been posting updates on its progress on Instagram. Owner Claire Oliver lives in Harlem and has been looking to expand in the neighborhood for a few years. Her namesake gallery represents a range of contemporary artists, including Bisa Butler, Barbara Earl Thomas and Leonardo Benzant. For daily updates, follow The Curious Uptowner on Facebook, Instagram and Twi

The Green Book's Harlem roots

However you feel about Green Book winning best picture last night, don't miss out on learning more about the travel guide it's named after–and peeking inside its pages. A directory for blacks traveling through segregated mid-century America, the book was the brainchild of Victor Green, an African-American postal worker from Harlem (yes, it was named after him). The very first edition in 1936, The Negro Motorist Green Book, focused on hotels, restaurants, stores and gas stations that welcomed black travelers in the New York area, but quickly expanded to other parts of the country. "Carry your Green Book with you–you may need it," advised a line on the cover. Green was soon printing 15,000 cop

DIY walking tour: 6 Harlem monuments that will leave you inspired

Here's an idea for the weekend: hit the pavement and go on The Curious Uptowner's DIY walking tour of Harlem's best black monuments. From point A to F it should take you about an hour and a half on foot. Not only is it an amazing opportunity to explore the neighborhood, but it's also a chance to learn more about these impressive historical figures–and see some pretty uplifting art while you're at it. A. Duke Ellington Memorial, 110th Street and Fifth Avenue Located in a semicircular island on the northeast corner of Central Park, this bronze sculpture of Duke Ellington by Robert Graham rises 25 feet above the ground. Look closer and you'll see nine tall muses supporting the legendary jazz co

Uptown links: affordable housing lottery launches in Hamilton Heights historic district, and more

• A housing lottery is under way for 38 affordable apartments at 847 St. Nicholas Avenue, a new brick building in the lovely Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill Northwest Historic District; the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the previous property owner, will have a studio space on the ground floor. If your income qualifies, you have until April 22 to submit your application. [6sqft] • Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris had a "soul food summit" at Harlem soul food destination Sylvia's with the Reverend Al Sharpton. [NY Daily News] • After Gucci's recent blackface scandal, Harlem designer Dapper Dan met with the luxury brand's reps to seek accountability (he collaborates with t

Newcomer Elysian Fields Cafe brings rustic Greek fare to Morningside Heights

If you've been praying to Zeus for real Greek food to arrive uptown, it's been working: In the space of a few months two new Greek restaurants have opened in Upper Manhattan. First came Whaddapita, which debuted late last year at 1625 Amsterdam Avenue in Hamilton Heights. Serving casual take-out fare like gyro sandwiches and Greek salads, the over-the-counter eatery is open Mondays through Fridays, catering mainly to the City College crowd (there's a handful of tables). Now, a mere two months later, comes the welcoming Elysian Fields Cafe about 20 blocks south on 1207 Amsterdam Avenue in Columbialand. The menu is divided between the kind of uncomplicated sandwiches and salads you might also

These Harlem icons shine in the newest subway art in the Bronx

Artist Rico Gatson's mesmerizing new subway mosaics may be located in the Bronx–the 167th Street Station on the B and D lines, to be precise–but they happen to feature a handful of true Harlem icons: writers James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, musician Tito Puente and poet Maya Angelou. Commissioned by the MTA, "Beacons" is a series of mosaic portraits featuring eight individuals who "have had an influence on the community in the Bronx or have attained international acclaim for their cultural, political, and artistic contributions," as Gatson recently explained to Hyperallergic. The remaining subjects include Celia Cruz, Reggie Jackson, Gil Scott-Heron, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Uptown links: Apollo Theater doc will kick off Tribeca Film Festival, and more

• A documentary about the Apollo Theater–called, you guessed it, "The Apollo"–will kick off this year's Tribeca Film Festival. It'll debut at the iconic theater on April 24. [Variety] • After images of a Gucci balaclava resembling blackface surfaced online, Harlem designer Dapper Dan (who collaborates with the fashion brand) posted a statement on Instagram, saying he would hold the brand accountable. A meeting with the CEO of Gucci will take place soon–stay tuned. [HuffPost] • A writer for The Root eloquently explains why she believes Harlem deserves the title of "America's Blackest City": "It represents the very best of us, black excellence epitomized, from Malcolm exhorting love for self f

Harlem Perspectives, a show celebrating uptown artists, returns to Faction Art Projects

​It's back! Harlem Perspectives, an exhibit celebrating artists who live and work uptown, has returned to Faction Art Projects for the second year in a row. Co-curated this year by Leanne Stella of uptown arts initiative Art In FLUX, the show highlights the work of seven artists who have reimagined personal stories and social messages through sculpture, painting and photography. One of those artists includes Elan Cadiz, whose eye-catching chairs act as portraits of family members using old fabrics such as dresses and tablecloths; Cadiz's work was just featured in Vogue. Other members of this year's group include Patrick Alston, whose large, abstract pieces incorporate graffiti, evoking memor

Chef Pierre Thiam puts a fresh spin on West African food at new fast-casual spot Teranga

Before the server even begins assembling your plate of food from the ten or so colorful pots behind the counter at new West African spot Teranga, you can sense this is no ordinary fast-casual restaurant. Half of a wooden fishing boat from Senegal greets you at the entrance, and the walls of the airy space just inside the Africa Center are covered with graphic drawings by the Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk (they will be painted over once the exhibit ends). Then there's the menu. Yes, it's simple, offering a limited number of market plates that allow you to match chicken, salmon or sweet potatoes with a base and a choice of two sides (plus a variety of not-to-be-missed fresh condiments at the en

Shop for authentic Mexican groceries at the new Pueblo Mágico in Hamilton Heights

Joining the growing number of small, new Mexican businesses in Hamilton Heights–including popular burrito destination Frijolitos–is Pueblo Mágico at 500B West 146th Street (right next to Japanese gem Chopped Parsley). The tiny, week-old store specializes in Mexican groceries–from dried chiles to aloe vera shampoo–as well as crafts such as embroidered women's tops and ceramic tableware. Not sure where to start shopping? Here are five suggestions for the first-timer: 1. Conchas: Made fresh and delivered to the store daily, this sweet Mexican bread with a sugary crust is a great accompaniment to your morning coffee. 2. Mexican Coca-Cola: Many believe Mexican Coke tastes better than the American

5 Valentine's Day ideas you'll only find in Harlem

Valentine's Day is fast approaching! Head to Harlem for these gift and day-of ideas you won't find anywhere else: 1. Chocolates Inspired by the Neighborhood Resembling an elegant Strivers' Row parlor, Harlem Chocolate Factory is a year-old chocolate shop specializing in color-splashed truffles with evocative names like First Nite on Lenox (a mix of smoked peach jam, hazelnut praline and caramel). Stop by this weekend to see what's in store for Valentine's Day, including heart-shaped boxes of brandied cherry truffles. 2. Flowers as art Photo: Franz James Floral Boutique Want to impress your sweetheart for a good long time? Send them an arrangement from Franz James, a boutique in the heart of

Uptown links: one of Barry Jenkins' favorite "Beale Street" locations, and more

• Barry Jenkins' Oscar-nominated film "If Beale Street Could Talk" includes a scene in Showmans on 125th Street, a Harlem jazz bar that first opened in 1942 and remains in business to this day. "Showmans is a place where I would go to unwind if I lived in the neighborhood,” says Jenkins. “It’s one of my favorite Harlem locations because it’s still there.” [NY Times] • For a program called Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC, the city is inviting architects to design affordable housing on properties that have remained vacant because of their small, irregular size. Six of the lots are in Harlem. [NY Times] • Top Chef alum Adrienne Cheatham chooses Japanese-French brasserie Mountain Bird in East Harle

Look down to spot the latest street art by MADSTEEZ in Harlem

Most street art is easy to spot–it's usually along the sides of buildings, tunnels and other urban structures. Not the latest work in Harlem by artist and designer Mark Paul Deren, better known as MADSTEEZ. Last fall he painted the floor of a public basketball court in St. Nicholas Park as part of a collaboration with the city's Parks Department and Mountain Dew. (It's located in the playground at St. Nicholas Ave and 140th Street.) Now that deep winter is here and trees are bare, it's easier to see the vivid greens, yellows and purples the artist used to depict the silhouetted figures playing hoops. Hankering to get a bird's-eye view? Head to MADSTEEZ's Instagram for an overhead shot. Then

Plowshares Coffee opens massive second location in Harlem

If you're a fan of the java at Plowshares Coffee but can never find a seat in its tiny original shop on Broadway near 105th Street, you're in luck: the boutique roaster just opened a massive second location in Harlem. The 3,500-square-foot space–complete with a roasting facility behind a glass wall in the back–is located at 1351 Amsterdam Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets, with a prime view of the new buildings spouting up in the Manhattanville Factory District. Other neighbors who have recently moved to the area include Gavin Brown's four-year-old Harlem gallery as well as the Studio Museum, which is there temporarily as it builds its new space on 125th Street. Hours are 8am to 2pm for

Chinese New Year idea: Slurp on hand-pulled noodles at newcomer Dunhuang in Morningside Heights

Chinese New Year is tomorrow–a good time to check out any ambitious newcomers that have joined uptown's Chinese restaurant scene, still mostly dotted with nondescript take-out joints. There's some happy news: last summer modern northwestern Chinese sit-down spot Dunhuang quietly opened at 1268 Amsterdam Avenue near 122nd Street, a short walk from Columbia's main campus. The chainlet has been expanding quickly across New York–there are now at least five other locations from Flushing to the East Village–serving northwestern Chinese specialties including its signature Lanzhou beef noodle soup, a pho-like medley of fresh hand-pulled noodles, beef slices, cilantro and radish in a beef broth spike

Kick off Black History Month with a peek inside Langston Hughes' historic Harlem home

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, but as anyone who lives in Harlem knows–to tweak a favorite line from the Schomburg Center–it's always Black History Month in the neighborhood. The epicenter of the famed artistic movement known as the Harlem Renaissance, the area is like a living museum of black culture and achievement, where a walk down almost any block reveals a plaque, mural, statue or street name honoring a giant in African-American history. To mark the occasion, the Curious Uptowner will be strolling through the neighborhood–always a favorite pastime–and highlighting the buildings where some of the most important black artists, writers, musicians and thinkers once lived

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A Curated guide to life in Harlem And beyond
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