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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner


The 142nd Street Dog Run–and a range of other worthy capital projects–want your vote

It's that time of year again. Participatory Budgeting NYC is back, giving you a chance to vote on a range of capital projects in your district, including upgrades to schools, parks, libraries and public housing. Those with the most votes in each district are guaranteed funding until the money set aside runs out. Some projects, like the one to improve the 142nd Street Dog Run in Riverside Park, have even organized events this week to bring extra awareness–and funding. The group behind the dog run is holding a raffle this Thursday, April 4 taking place At The Wallace. One $20 ticket gets you four chances to win prizes from such Hamilton Heights businesses as Harlem Public, Bono Trattoria and T

Uptown links: a pedestrian death spurs talk of redesigning Amsterdam Avenue, and more

• Safe street advocates joined New York City Council Member Mark Levine at a vigil for Erica Imbasciani, the young woman who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Hamilton Heights over the weekend. They have been voicing their support for a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue between West 110th and 155th Streets for some years now. Changes would include a painted bike lane and turning bays for safer left turns. [Patch] • Firefighter Michael Davidson, who died a year ago while fighting a blaze inside a Harlem brownstone being used for the movie "Motherless Brooklyn," was honored with a plaque at his former firehouse on West 143rd Street. [Daily News] • A storied section of East Harlem–between Park a

This artist reimagines the past, depicting black women in exquisite period costumes made of paper

Part historical examination, part magical fashion exhibit, Haitian-born artist Fabiola Jean-Louis's new show at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx reimagines the past through a series of beautiful, if haunting, portraits–and the paper gowns the models wear. "Re-Writing History: A Black Ancestral Narrative" features a collection of photographs that resemble Baroque portraits hanging in an elegant parlor room. Here, though, the sitters are young black women, and they're wearing exquisite paper gowns made by the artist, which are presented alongside the photographs. Hidden in both are smaller scenes showing the brutal violence black men and women have faced since colonial times. In a second

It's a night of burgers and browsing at Harlem Shake's third annual Sip, Shop & Shake

Three stylish Harlem brands are coming to always-fun burger spot Harlem Shake for a night of eating and shopping. Clothing and home line Royal Jelly Harlem, luxury candle purveyor The 125 Collection, and skincare label Hamlin Apothecary will be there to make you Sip, Shop & Shake this Wednesday, March 27 from 6pm to 9pm. Since the event also celebrates Women's History Month–all three businesses were started by women–there's a special Ladies First combo on the menu, including any Harlem Shake burger, fries and a glass of berry champagne or Hella Berry, a berry-infused milkshake honoring Halle Berry ($16.75). Come early (6pm-8pm) to meet Miss Harlem Shake 2018 Aisha Diori, who will be encourag

Get your suspense on at the second annual Kit Film Noir Festival

It's back! The Kit Film Noir Festival is returning to Columbia's Lenfest Center for the Arts for the second year in a row. And just like last year, it's open to the public. "Into the Night: Cornell Woolrich and Film Noir" focuses on the work of short story master Cornell Woolrich, a former student at Columbia. Although contemporaries such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett tend to be more recognized, Woolrich was equally (if not more) prolific. His pulp fiction was adapted into films by directors including Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut. Running from Wednesday, March 27 through Sunday, March 31, the series will screen 12 adaptations of Woolrich's work, from Deadline at Dawn to

East Harlem has not one, but two great new bakeries–Pabade and Super Nice–plus free art

In the space of just a few months, two destination-worthy new bakeries have opened in East Harlem–and both are close to excellent free art, making for a perfect afternoon in El Barrio. Start off at Pabade Bakery, which debuted in January at 135 E 110th Street. Chef and owner Yolfer Carvajal attended French-Jewish culinary school, an influence that's clear in his flaky croissants and buttery financiers (made with almond flour, they're gluten-free, too). The pastry case is also filled with good old American cookies, brownies, pound cakes and muffins–including a vegan variety–so there's something for every sweet tooth, plus coffee. Seven blocks up is the even newer Super Nice Coffee and Bakery

Uptown links: Harlem's struggling churches, the Godfather of Harlem trailer, and more

• Harlem churches with dwindling congregations are struggling with the area's development boom–Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church on East 126th Street, set to be demolished and replaced by condos, being the latest. Some churches have found success leasing (instead of selling) the land under their original buildings and creating new sanctuaries nearby. But historian and preservationist Michael Henry Adams would like to see them seek landmark status and sell their air rights instead. [Crain's New York] • Here's a peep at "Godfather of Harlem," the Epix crime drama starring Forest Whitaker that was shooting throughout the neighborhood this past fall and winter. [amNewYork] • Tickets

What's coming to Harlem's four historic parks

Now that spring is here and we're all itching to get outside, it's a good time to check in and see what's new at Harlem's historic parks, the neighborhood's four leafy jewels with exciting projects in various stages of development. Look out for restored landmarks, refurbished dog parks, outdoor cafes, and much more in the coming months (and years). Morningside Park Bridging Morningside Heights and South Harlem, this narrow-but-long park keeps getting nicer and nicer. Last year the City Gardens Club funded the restoration of the pond and waterfall at the park's southern end. Just now Playground 123 at the northern tip reopened with new playground equipment, seating, planting, lighting and mor

Take a peek at legendary Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee's glamour shots of African Americans

It's an opportunity that doesn't come around every day: a treasure trove of vintage portraits by legendary Harlem photographer James Van Der Zee is now up at the Howard Greenberg Gallery. A photographer who opened his first studio in Harlem in 1918, Van Der Zee became one of the neighborhood's most sought-after photographers during the Harlem Renaissance. Using painted backgrounds and props, he took glamorous shots of ordinary African Americans–from schoolgirls to newlyweds–and plenty of prominent subjects as well, including civil rights activist Marcus Garvey and entertainer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Towards the end of his career Van Der Zee's images finally caught the attention of major i

Double date: Manhattanville's mini art district + Plowshares Coffee

Manhattanville has a new mini art district, and now that a huge coffee shop just opened across the street, you can truly make an afternoon of it. Drop by the area this Saturday from 1pm to 4pm when Studio Museum 127–the Studio Museum in Harlem's temporary satellite space at 429 West 127th Street–hosts its Artist-in-Residence Open Studios. Visitors can view the works-in-progress of the latest emerging artists championed by the museum, Allison Janae Hamilton, Tschabala Self, and Sable Elyse Smith. In June their finished work will head to MoMA PS1 for a show that's part of a multiyear partnership between the two museums. Photo: Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich There's two shows at neighboring gallery Gav

Uptown links: a waitlist opens for affordable housing at El Barrio's Artspace, and more

• In the latest affordable housing lottery news: You can now try joining a waitlist for the 89 below market-rate apartments at El Barrio's Artspace PS 109. Applications are due April 11, and the waitlist will be active for two years. [Patch] • The 4th annual Inwood Film Festival kicks off tonight with a special screening of Love, Gilda, produced and directed by Inwood's own Lisa D'Apolito. It'll be followed by an interview with WNYC's Brian Lehrer. The celebration continues with two full days of short- and feature-length films. [Broadway World] • Sarah Jessica Parker and crew were in Inwood this week wrapping up Season 3 of Divorce. The actress posted a short video on Instagram with the foll

Dear Mama's atrium-like new space mixes coffee with lots of sunshine

Dear Mama's huge, atrium-like coffee bar in Manhattanville is up and running–but what you see here now is only the beginning. Occupying the glassy southwest corner of Columbia's new Renzo Piano-designed science building, the sunny, plant-filled spot is the second outpost of this creative coffee shop that first debuted in East Harlem three years ago. It's currently only open weekdays from 9am to 4pm, serving coffee and an abbreviated list of pastries, salads and other breakfast and lunch items. But expanded hours–with a menu to match–are coming soon, as is a long sit-down bar with cocktails and a second floor with more seating. If you've been following Dear Mama's drool-worthy feed on Instagr

Common's first co-living space in Manhattan is a renovated Hamilton Heights brownstone

Common, the co-living company with 25 homes in six cities across the country, just opened its first shared space in Manhattan: a renovated brownstone in Harlem. Locally, up until now the start-up has focused on the outer boroughs, where it has nine properties in Brooklyn alone. Located in Hamilton Heights, the newest home features 11 fully furnished bedrooms, most with shared bathrooms, as well as a fully-equipped kitchen and a cozy basement lounge. The surrounding area is billed as a "central hub of history and culture in one of Manhattan’s most treasured neighborhoods." A recent Common blog post points to more local attractions. A peek at the interior reveals a modern renovation that allow

The historic Hamilton Theater is getting a new tenant, River Thai Cuisine opens soon, and more

Spring is almost here and with it a flurry of construction activity in Hamilton Heights. Workers have been busy sectioning off a retail space at the north end of the former Hamilton Theater at 3560 Broadway. An employee at the site confirmed it would be a new location of Spectrum, the internet and cable service provider. The opening is a few months away. A few blocks down, a worker inside the former La Cantina at 3454 Broadway said that a new wine bar would be opening in the below-street-level space between Harlem Cigar Room and ramen and cocktails destination ROKC. The folks from the cigar space are apparently behind the venture. One avenue east, the owners of Mumbai Masala are set to open

The Harlem Flea kicks off this Sunday with 30-plus indie vendors

Get ready for the mother of all uptown markets: the brand new Harlem Flea. Kicking off this Sunday, March 10 from 11am to 8pm, the colorful bazaar will be taking over the 2,800-square-foot basement at the Harlem Parish, the stunning former neo-Gothic church at 258 West 118th Street. More than 30 indie vendors will be selling fashion, accessories, beauty, home goods, crafts–even experiences. Conceived by Sade Akin Boyewa El, who ran the recent Harlem Pop-Up Collective, and Sivan Baron, co-owner of Harlem's Silvana, Shrine and Yatenga, the flea's mission is to support local creatives while building community. Expect a heap of things to see and do. Shop for vintage finds from Lady V, hats from

Uptown links: James Van Der Zee's studio portraits of a flourishing Harlem, and more

• For the next month you can travel back in time to the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance via the glamorous studio portraits of photographer James Van Der Zee, famed for capturing the lives of black New Yorkers from the 1920s to the 1950s. Photo: James Van Der Zee, Young Girl with Dog © Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery. [NY Times] • Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson just introduced the Green & Fanny dinner series, which will tell the often-overlooked stories of black achievement all year long. [Food & Wine] • RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Shuga Cain shares some of her favorite Harlem spots, including La Tropezienne Bakery for croissants and Melba's for the fried

Art Pigeon is a new, easy way of exploring public art–now with two guides by The Curious Uptowner

New York City is going through a golden age of public art, but searching for the latest must-see mural can leave even the most intrepid urban explorer walking in circles. And good luck learning the artist's name, past work, or any other relevant history. Now thanks to new online platform Art Pigeon, all it takes is a few quick taps. The six-month-old website and app lets you search for and learn about the city's best public art via a user-friendly map as well as a series of engaging categories. Founded by Daniel Gladstone, a techie with a bohemian streak (he helped build the house boats for the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild), Art Pigeon sprung from his own curiosity about New York's publ

Hurry, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Washington Heights is open to all for a month

It's that special time of year: The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the honor society of architects, artists, composers and writers based in Washington Heights, is hosting the first of its two annual art shows and opening the doors to its impressive Beaux-Arts buildings on Audubon Terrace. The 2019 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts will run for one month, starting this Thursday, March 7, and feature the work of 32 contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers and videographers who will be up for various prizes. The Academy will also purchase select pieces and donate them to museums across the country. The show presents not only a unique opportunity for the pubic to see artists c

Uptown's top sledding spots

Upper Manhattan boasts some of the hilliest terrain in New York–there's a good reason why so many neighborhoods have the word "Heights" in them–so you know there's good sledding when it snows. Here are some of the best spots, from north to south: Inwood Hill Park Best spot: Indian Road and 218th Street How to get there: 1 to 215th Street Fort Tryon Park Best spot: Billings Lawn How to get there: A to 190th Street Highbridge Park Best spot: by the ballfields near 174th Street How to get there: A to 175th Street St. Nicholas Park Best spot: 135th Street and St. Nicholas Ave How to get there: A, B, C to 135th Street Morningside Park Best spots: 110th Street, 113th Street and 122nd Street How to

Celebrate Women's History Month at the 2019 Women's Jazz Festival

Thanks to the Schomburg, this month you'll have not one but four chances to celebrate Women's History Month with live jazz from today's top female performers. It's all part of the 2019 Women's Jazz Festival, set to take place at the Schomburg's Langston Hughes Auditorium over the next four Mondays. The series kicks off on March 4th with "Dear Nina," featuring vocalist/pianist Drea d'Nur singing the songs of Nina Simone–dedicated to love, blues and protest. The evenings that follow include a salute to bebop curated by musician and composer Diedre L. Murray; a tribute to singers Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson and Nina Simone by saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin; and a celebration of the three women

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A Curated guide to life in Harlem And beyond
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