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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner

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A look back at the set of 'Godfather of Harlem' in Sugar Hill

The Epix series "Godfather of Harlem," starring Forest Whitaker as infamous 1960s crime boss Bumpy Johnson, is finally out and getting solid reviews for its performances and high production values. Harlemites got to preview the striking sets last fall and winter when the TV production came to the neighborhood to film scenes. Historic Sugar Hill in particular was awash in vintage details for the crime drama. A shop on the corner of St Nicholas Avenue and W 147th Street was transformed into 22 West, an iconic Harlem soul food restaurant that once stood at 22 West 135th Street. Malcolm X, a regular, used to call it his "home away from home." A vintage flyer on the eatery's wall advertised a Jam

The 35th Annual Medieval Festival, a free outdoor screening of "Claudine," and more fun things to do

​There's something for everyone this weekend–and most of it is free–including outdoor movies, music, art and, yes, jousting and jesters. Here's where to find the fun: Movies Under the Stars: "Claudine" Marcus Garvey Park Friday, Sept 27 at 7pm; Free Bring a blanket (and maybe a jacket) for this under-the-stars screening of '70s rom-com "Claudine," starring Diahann Carroll as a single Harlem mother who falls in love with a garbage collector (James Earl Jones). The Harlem Chamber Players Season Opening Concert Broadway Presbyterian Church, 601 W 114th St Friday, Sept 27 at 7pm; $20 The Harlem Chamber Players return to the intimate Broadway Presbyterian Church in Morningside Heights with a prog

Uptown links: MTA's just-approved capital plan has funding for 3 new East Harlem subway stations

• The MTA Board unanimously approved its $51.5 billion capital plan for 2020-2024, which includes funding for three new subway stations in East Harlem as part of the Second Avenue subway extension. [CNBC] • The Africa Center will get $25 million in donations to finish building its 70,000-square-foot, three-story space on Fifth Avenue. [WSJ] • Oprah interviewed author Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Apollo on Monday to kick off her newly launched book club with Apple Books–Coates' novel "The Water Dancer" is her first pick. They both went to separate neighborhood restaurants (Red Rooster, BLVD) after the event. [Page Six] • Now that Inwood has been rezoned, half of a 30-foot-tall rock on Cooper Stree

The best park stairs for the perfect uptown workout

Fall in New York is for exercising outdoors. Sunny days accompanied by cooler temperatures mean that conditions are ideal for putting sneaker to pavement. And if you live uptown–an area known for its many neighborhoods with the word "Heights" in them–you're never too far from a hilly park crisscrossed with some serious stairs (many have more than 100). So here's an idea: go find the nearest set and get ready for a major workout. A good rule of thumb is to start at the bottom and run up and down for 30 to 45 minutes. You won't just be getting in shape, you'll be enjoying the fall foliage to boot. From south to north, here's where to find the best: Morningside Park Although practically the ent

An apple tree grows in Harlem

As summer turns to fall, apple picking at one of the many orchards surrounding the city might be at the top of your weekend plans. But if you're pressed for time, here's another option: Head to Convent Avenue and 144th Street and marvel at the apple tree in the front yard of the townhouse on the southwest corner. Swing by right now and you'll spy more than a dozen luscious red apples hanging from its branches. The fruit-laden tree is a nice reminder that the area used to be part of founding father Alexander Hamilton's 32-acre country estate, which once included orchards. (His old Harlem home is just a few blocks away.) And though you definitely shouldn't pick any fruit from the private prope

As Climate Week kicks off, here are 4 things you can do locally–yes, uptown–to help the planet

Climate Week NYC kicks off today, making it the perfect time to ask yourself what you can do to protect the environment. Yes, you. As it turns out, it's not that hard. There are a number of relatively painless–and truly effective–green steps you can take immediately and locally. Not sure where to start? Here's a handy list: 1. Hop on a bike. Grab a bicycle–one of the greenest forms of transportation out there–then take advantage of the brand new bike lanes on Amsterdam Avenue between 110th and 155th Streets. Don't have your own two wheels? Find a Citi Bike or rent a bike for the day at spots like Unlimited Biking on Central Park North or Talent Cycles in Hamilton Heights. 2. Ask the city to

Uptown links: a McDonald's closing "hurts," and more

• Here's why the closing of the McDonald's on 125th Street and Broadway–part of Columbia University's expansion into Manhattanville–"hurts." [Gothamist] • New details have been revealed about the twin towers going up at 233 West 125th Street, aka the Victoria Theater redevelopment. The building that will house the Marriott Renaissance will include a 5,000-square-foot ballroom and rooftop bar with views of Central Park. [NY Post] • These photos capture the fun scene at the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya block-party-cum-fashion-show at the Apollo Theater during New York Fashion Week. [The Cut] • Fifty local artists have been invited to paint murals along a three-block stretch of plywood in East Har

A totally reimagined new pool and rink are coming to the north end of Central Park

The Central Park Conservancy today unveiled its design for a brand new pool and rink coming to the north end of Central Park. ​The $150 million project, the Conservancy's biggest ever, is a joint undertaking with the city, which is contributing a third of the money. Replacing Lasker Rink and Pool, a concrete-walled eyesore that has faced systemic problems (e.g. flooding) even before it opened in 1966, the new facility will be much more open and integrated into its surroundings. Its landscape-dominant design, as the Conservancy's chief landscape architect Christopher Nolan calls it, will more naturally bridge the placid Harlem Meer to the east and the woodsy Ravine to the west. Walls will be

Kick off the Ethiopian New Year at these 5 tasty Harlem spots

Happy Ethiopian New Year! An African country with ancient roots, Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the old Julian one, traditionally celebrating the start of the New Year on September 11 (or 12, if it's a leap year). To mark the holiday, why not visit one of Harlem's many tasty, authentic Ethiopian restaurants. From south to north, here's where to find them: 1. Zoma 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd and W 113th St An upscale choice on a restaurant-packed stretch of Frederick Douglass Boulevard, with a modern vibe to match. 2. Massawa 1239 Amsterdam Ave and W 121st St Recently reopened after a year of renovations, this longtime Columbia favorite delivers Ethiopian/Eritrean dishes that have be

All the coming-to-the-neighborhood-soon news you may have missed from Columbia U.

Lately there's been a steady drip of news coming from Columbia University regarding its growing Manhattanville campus–not to mention the school's tantalizing new retail announcements in Morningside Heights. Here's what you may have missed this summer, starting with the most recent bombshell: 1. As part of a new building project coming to the southwest corner of W 125th Street and Broadway, Columbia is demolishing the drive-through McDonald's and the adjacent row of warehouses in the coming months. The McDonald's last day of business was Monday, September 9. 2. The Columbia Business School's two new buildings on W 131st Street, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (the firm behind The Shed in

Photos: Harlem's iconic Lenox Lounge is now just another bank (updated)

​In one of the more egregious examples of a Harlem cultural treasure being erased by crass commercialism, the space where the fabled Lenox Lounge once stood is now home to just another bank. The iconic Art Deco gem at 288 Lenox Avenue, once frequented by jazz greats such as Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie, closed its doors for good in 2012. Five years later, after a number of legal disputes, the whole building was torn town (although the sign and fixtures were saved and presumably exist). A new building at the same address had been under construction for a while, and now the ground-floor retail space is finally open. It's official: the old Lenox Lounge has been replaced by a branch of Wel

Uptown links: Inwood’s La Marina is now The Hudson, and more

• The Hudson, a restaurant from the owner of the Brother Jimmy's restaurant chain, has opened in the old La Marina space in Inwood. [Patch] • Here's how actor Ty Jones, the artistic director of the Classical Theater of Harlem, spends his Sundays. [NY Times] • A new women's club in Washington Heights called the Mami Chula Social Club features monthly programming geared towards Latinas. [NY Times] • Summer programs like Harlem Grown's help neighborhood kids explore questions about healthy food. [NY Times] • A vacant lot near Strivers' Row will soon be home to a new apartment complex. [Patch] For daily updates, follow The Curious Uptowner on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #Inwood #Harlem #Wash

Here's a peek at all the safety improvements, including new bike lanes, coming to Amsterdam Ave

The NYC Department of Transportation has started putting up flyers along Amsterdam Avenue in Morningside Heights and West Harlem, previewing the many safety improvements coming to the busy stretch between 110th and 155th Streets this month. According to the notices, upgrades to the 45-block-long area include dedicated bike lanes in both directions and narrower roadways to discourage speeding–the avenue will go from having four to three car lanes. The city approved the plan earlier this year. It had to work around local Community Board 9, which opposed the changes. Nearly one collision per day on this section of the avenue has been the norm. To get a better sense of all the improvements, you

A brief guide to all the noteworthy spots that opened in Harlem this summer

While you were busy trying to soak up summer, an impressive number of noteworthy bars, cafes and restaurants opened in Harlem between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Here's what you may have missed–and where to head right now. From south to north: Fieldtrip 109 Malcolm X Blvd between W 115th and W 116th Sts Chef JJ Johnson is back in Harlem—he's the former executive chef at The Cecil—with this new fast-casual rice restaurant serving dishes like Asian-style shrimp bowl with sticky rice and green curry sauce. Sugar Monk 2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd btwn W 123rd and W 124th Sts A perfect spot for drinks before or after the Apollo, this swanky new bar has been attracting fans of finely-crafted cockt

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