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

Updated: Mar 16


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 James Brown concert at the Apollo Theater on October 3, a possible reference to the singer's real-life concert on October 24, 1963, when he recorded "Live at the Apollo."

Colorful old cars and buses lined the avenue, including a retired New York City Transit bus with a sign revealing the M11 route hasn't changed much in 50 years; the last stop was in the West Village, just as it is today.

For even more images from the set of "Godfather of Harlem," check out this post from last November.

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