Madam C. J. Walker, the entrepreneur who launched a hair care business that made her America's first black female millionaire—the subject of "Self Made," a new Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer—first came to Harlem in the early 1910s.
After growing her business in the Midwest, she bought two townhouses at 108 and 110 W 136th Street (near Malcolm X Boulevard) and in 1915 transformed them into one double-wide mansion that included a retail store on the ground floor.
Walker died four years later and left the Harlem house and a second mansion she had built in the suburbs to her daughter, A'lelia Walker Robinson, who took over her business. In the 1920s the Georgian-style townhouse in Harlem became a famous literary salon called the Dark Tower visited by Langston Hughes and others.
A'Lelia eventually leased the building to the city, which installed a series of health clinics. But in 1941, the townhouse, which by then belonged to the city, was torn down and became the Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library.
Today scaffolding covers the facade of the library, and the street sign at the corner of W 136th Street and Lenox Avenue is the only physical reminder of the magnificent building that once stood nearby: last year it was renamed Madam C. J. & A'Lelia Walker Place.