Monday, November 23, 2009

School Aide Cuts Hit East Harlem

School Aides Cut Citywide; East Harlem Feels the Loss from Mary Plummer on Vimeo.

Thanks to Bradley Gallo at Columbia Journalism School. This video was originally published on Northhattan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Smoking in East Harlem

Turns out that huge apartment building I've watched going up on Lexington between 97th and 98th St will be a non-smoking apartment building according to WCBSTV.

The building is located at 1510 Lexington Avenue and is set to open early next year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Wait Is Over: Costco Is Open!

Has anyone checked it out yet? What did you think?

Found this cute video online of opening day.

Also see NY1's video and article.

And here are some photos. This place looks HUGE!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

You're Invited! East Harlem Costco Opens

I'm sure I wasn't the only East Harlem resident who received a mailer from Costco in today's mail. The mailer announces the opening date, November 12th, along with coupons and special offers. There has been so much excitement, controversy and delays surrounding the East River Plaza that it's hard to believe it's actually happening.

Are you planning on becoming a member of the new East Harlem Costco? Will you be there on opening day?

116th St Costco
527 E 117th St

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carrot Cake Cafe

I love that New York City can support entire stores and districts devoted to such specific products; there's a flower, lighting and restaurant supply district in Manhattan. Not to mention the a Phlli Cheese Steak shop and the Cheese Cake bakery downtown. East Harlem is no different, over here it's our carrot cake cafe, Lloyd's. Lloyd's prides itself on its fresh ingredients, according to their Website, "In a world of artificial industrial mass-produced products, Lloyd's Carrot Cake stands out as one of the few all-natural wholesome and artesian bakeries worth fighting to preserve."

I picked up one of these all-natural wonders a few weeks ago for an early Halloween party. I knew the cake was dense right away as it made my short walk home very uncomfortable while carrying my small but heavy cake. It was worth it; the cake was a huge hit at the party, moist and perfectly frosted. Now, this could be a plus or minus for some folks, but in the past I've had a few carrot cakes that have had strings of carrots throughout the cake, I'm not the hugest fan of this, and I liked that this one was more blended more cake-like less actual pieces of carrot. If you are a fan of this cake-like style definitely think of picking up a cake for Thanksgiving, it's such a perfect fall dessert. If you can't finish a whole cake they also sell slices at the shop.

Lloyd's Carrot Cake Cafe (note the East Harlem shop is not on the site)
2051 Second Ave


After a grueling, yet disappointing volleyball game my team hit Joy Burger for some burgers and beers. The joint has a great 1950's vibe -- vintage Coke ads, retro bar stools and the guys working the grill line have these great mechanic jump suits that are right out of Grease. They serve classic "road side" burgers, but if you're interested in mixing it up a bit order one of their sauces like garlic mayo. The team loved the burgers, the milkshakes and the fantastic prices. The burgers start at $3.50 (they come in three sizes depending on your craving) and the beers are $3.75. We also got some Patatas (they're sweet potato fries served with maple syrup) on the house. Score! Our dinner was way more successful then our game!

Joy Burger
1567 Lexington Ave at 100th St
(212) 289-6222

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Virtual Tour of the New Museo del Barrio

Rendering of the new El Museo del Barrio New York. Reopening October 17, 2009.
Courtesy of El Museo del Barrio, and Gruzen Samton Architects.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Debate is On

East Harlem's Museo del Barrio, which is reopening later this week, will host the First Mayoral General Debate tomorrow night.
The debate will be aired live on NY1 and

Sunday Walk the Cusp of Fall

One Tough East Harlem Cat on the Prowl.

Live Free

Flower in the Ruff.

A Place to Put Up Your Feet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Scoop on the East River Plaza

A Target Just for East Harlem

You're Invited! East Harlem Costco Opens

East River Plaza Reader Update

East River Plaza Update

East River Plaza

Anyone else have any details on store openings or other East River Plaza news? Let me know.

East River Plaza Reader Update

Costco is Coming!

I recieved an email from a reader the other day about the East River Plaza:

"I spoke with one of the construction workers yesterday who said that Costco will be open in November at the East River Plaza but that Target wouldn't be open till 2010. Applications are being taken for memberships and jobs on Pleasant between 117th and 118th Streets."

Thanks for the update Maria!

This is really exciting news, November is just around the corner.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

East Harlem is Fit for a Queen

Earlier this week, "Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman today met with students and staff at the highly successful Young Women's Leadership School in East Harlem to discuss the important role that quality education plays in improving children’s lives," according to a UNICEF press release.
Read the full press release for Queen Rania Al Abdullah's visit.

Recession Advice from an East Harlem Couch

You are your own best investment. Spotted on 102nd.

Spend the Last Warm Nights of the Season at Moustache

It's officially fall, but there are still some warm days left, I hope. After warm days come warm nights and those should be spent at Moustache. I spent one recent warm Sunday night sitting at their outdoor area drinking wine and enjoying the great tunes. I've only eaten there once (I usually like to go a few times or try a couple of dishes to write a review), but I wanted to make sure you hit their outdoor space before it got too cold. The East Harlem Moustache is one of three Mediterranean Pitza Restaurants around Manhattan. I tried the Moustache Pitza, a fresh pita covered in roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, parsley and mozzarella. It was great combination of flavors and a unique twist on a classic pizza pie, . My waitress was an East Harlemer excited to discuss her favorite haunts around the hood (which, of course I love to discuss too). Be sure to hit Moustache soon and let me know which dishes you try.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

City of Haarlem

Although I was in a different borough at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, my mind was on Harlem it would seem.

City of Haarlem is a type of hyacinth.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Central Park Staycation

The New York Times has a great article about "staycationing" in Central Park this Labor Day weekend. Lots of uptown spots to try.

Here is the full article and the slide show.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Focus

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day. Here are some shots from my visit to The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, near Fifth Ave and 105th St.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Rainy Museum Weekend

It's supposed to be a rainy weekend, perfect for a museum are some suggestions:

Friday @ The Studio Museum Harlem
144 West 125th Street
New York, New York 10027
Uptown Fridays: “Afro-Latin Style” with Geko Jones & Ethegy
"Dance to the worldly beats of Global Ghetto Technician, Geko Jones, along with a warm-up by up Eclectic Technician Ethegy. Experience this high-energy party flow into paint as visual artists create Afro-Latin inspired work live to the beats! Don’t miss this fun and festive evening of culture in Harlem!"
$10 admission for all before 8 PM

After 8 pm - $15 general admission/ $10 Members, seniors, students

Saturday @ The Museum of the City of New York

1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.
New York, NY 10029
I haven't been to this exhibit yet, but my friend Elizabeth Griffin wrote a great article on the Mannahatta Project for The Daily Green.
Tell them you're an East Harlem resident (if you are one, of course) and you get into the museum for free.

Sunday @ The Studio Museum Harlem
144 West 125th Street
New York, New York 10027
Target Free Sundays

They have a few great exhibits there right now; I definitely want to check out Expanding the Walls: Making Connections between Photography, History and Community.

Monday, August 24, 2009

East Harlem Farmers' Market

On Sundays from July to November, from 10am to 4pm, at 106th and 3rd Avenue, East Harlem has its own farmers' market.

According to Scott Stringer's (our borough president) blog:

"East Harlem, a “food desert,” lacks access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables on the weekends. The first ever weekend Farmers' Market in East Harlem is another way in which Go Green and the Borough President are actively combating issues of food equity and environmental justice."

The market is small, but the vegetables were fresh and extremely inexpensive. Come out on Sundays and support the market. Go Green East Harlem!

Sunday Street Scene

The summer heat had final started to let up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

'El Rufo'

El Museo Del Barrio has some great events coming up including afternoons and evenings at 'El Rufo,' or on the roof.

This one sounds really fun:
Para Gente Con Clase: Nacotheque and Guests
Saturday, Ausust 15 4pm–7pm

Beyond salsa and rancheras, Nacoteque is underground indie rock, nostalgia pop, ska, cumbias, and electro, all in one, plus much more. Jumping in will be DJs Marcelo Cunning and Amylu Meneses that will have you raising el rufo!

Also a TDA rooftop movie later that night.

Hope to see you there.

More info in the calendar section of the El Musseo Del Barrio website.

The One About the Taqueria that Crossed the Road

In its days as a much more modest taqueria it was called "one of the best restaurants in the area," by the New York Times. Now, just across the street in a larger and more grand location, El Paso has been transformed into a tqueria and cavicheria. With its new and extended title comes more upscale dishes as well something lacking in most restaurants around here: atmosphere.

With staco walls, Frida Kahlo art in tile, decorative skeletons and other Dia de los Muertos items, El Paso takes you to something akin to the high end restaurant of Oaxaca. Walk through to the outdoor covered patio area and your trip to Mexico is complete.

Each dish is fresh and authentic, so allow the knowledgeable wait staff to steer you to a dish outside of your comfort zone. If you live around here you've probably had Mole Poblano and enchiladas, but not like these. Try the tacos, you get three of them, perfectly presented. The el pastor taco and the chorizo are my favorites. It's a pleasure to speak to the staff, they are sweet enough to sing a song a friend and I had forgotten the lyrics to, and they are eagerly willing to discuss the future of the old restaurant's space (a Mexican bakery is the rumor). The addition of the ceviche menu had me concern at first, "overextendederia," I feared, was to be added to its new title. Not to worry, the ceviche stays consistent: fresh and authentic again.

This updated restaurant, at least to me, is a welcomed addition to East Harlem. The chatter, as it often is with a gentrifying area, is mixed. This upscale place is a bit pricer then the two other El Paso locations, which remain as traditional taquerias. More expensive, yes, but a destination restaurant, fit to take the East Harlem doubters, of which I know many.

Recommended Dishes: Mole Pablano, Al Pastor (Pork, Pineapple and Onion) Tacos, Enchiladas

El Paso
1643 Lexington Ave at 104th St
212 831-9831

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Met Manny Vega!

Walking down 104th St near Lexington, I saw a man touching up the famous "The Spirit of East Harlem " mural. I asked if I could take his photo for the blog, and we got to talking. His name is Manny Vega, and you may know him from his mural and mosaic work around East Harlem. He told me that he had worked as an assistant on the original mural, painted back in 1973. He was fighting off the graffiti artists who had covered up parts of the mural earlier that week. He said it would probably be an ongoing battle.

Vega's work can be seen at the East Harlem Coffee Shop on Lexington and 104th St and the 6 train 110th St stop.

Here's a great interactive piece on Manny Vega on the New York Times' website.

The Spirit of East Harlem

Back in Harlem

I apologize for the blogs lack of posts as of late. Thanks for your patience! I moved to a new section of East Harlem earlier this month and spent most of June looking for my new home and packing up my old one. Moving is exhausting, but I'm finally feeling ready to start exploring my new area of East Harlem. I'm a bit further south then I was previously and there are lots of new restaurants, shops and other East Harlem treasures to tell you about.

Here's the first treasure. Right on the corner of 102nd St and Park is what looks like a gallery, only I live near by and I've never seen it open. Does any one know the scoop?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

East River Plaza UPDATE

According to The New York Times Costco announced today that it will be accepting food stamps on trial bases at their new East River Plaza location.

Monday, May 25, 2009

East River Plaza

If you live in East Harlem you've probably seen the construction of the East River Plaza, you really can't miss it. If you don't live in the area you've probably heard rumors of a Costco and Target being built uptown. Lately there has been a great deal of chatter going on about the project. I'd like to try to consolidate some of the recent information and start a conversation about the project in general, and see what residents and even non-residents think of the plaza.

The Basics: The East River Plaza is being developed in East Harlem along the FDR Drive between 116th and 119th St. It will be a large big-box mall, 485,000 square feet, of the style more often seen in suburbs. According to PlaNYC's website, "In 1996 Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd. (BDG) purchased the site. The site was rezoned in 1999, changing the zoning from an M2-2 to a C4-4 to allow for the commercial growth. From the time of the rezoning till 2004 when Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC) bought a stake in the development, the project was stalled. Both FCRC and BDG will develop the site."

The plaza could bring 1200-2000 jobs into the community, and the developers have pledged to hire within the community.

Originally Home Depot was one of the tenants of the plaza, but they have subleased their space to Costco. In addition to Costco, Target, Best Buy and Marshalls have also agreed to be tenants.

The East River Plaza is scheduled to open in October 2009.

Lately there has been concerns about Costco not accepting food stamps. According to the New York Times more then 30,000 residents in East Harlem receive food stamps. Costco has stated they do not have the technology to accept food stamps. The times quotes an East Harlem resident, Viveca Diaz, aptly stating, "Very interesting. The corner bodega takes food stamps, and Costco doesn't."

Costco has also been in the news for their proposed delivery schedule. According to the New York Times, "Costco just won special permission for its tractor-trailers to drive on residential streets in East Harlem between midnight and 5 a.m. to make deliveries." The Daily News has an opinion piece from East Harlem resident Dolores Prida, entitled "Sleepless in East Harlem" on the topic.

What are your thoughts on the East River Plaza? Do you think it will bring traffic congestion and late-night noise, or jobs and great shopping experiences?


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Patsy's Pizzeria

Italian Harlem Alive and Well

Before it was El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, this area was Italian Harlem. One of the hold outs from the old Italian Harlem days is Patsy's Pizzeria, established in 1933. Having a late lunch last weekend the restaurant was filled with all sorts of patrons. A mother reminisced to her children about the old neighborhood at the table next to ours. A couple was speaking Italian at another. As we were sitting a group of tourists walked in, followed by another family that is greeted as regulars. The guests sat among framed photos of famous dinner guests from actors to politicians throughout the years.

The meal started with chilled Peroni beers. Next, mozzarella breaded and fried to perfection, the outside reminded me of the crust of a grilled cheese. These are not the corner diner's mozzarella sticks, these were elevated to an art form. I chose the fillet of sole with hot peppers over grilled asparagus, a dish from the spring menu which incorporated spring veggies into delicious lighter dishes. We also ordered one of their classic pizzas topped with sausage. These did not disappoint. The fillet was perfectly spicy and the pizza was indeed a classic.
There are a few Patsy's restaurants throughout the city, but I definitely recommend coming up to Italian Harlem for the whole experience.

Patsy's Pizzeria
Patsy's Pizzeria
2287 1st Ave, near 118th St.

Phone: (212) 534-9783


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spring Saturday, East Harlem

Last Saturday Sam and I took advantage of the perfect weather and spent time outside having a fun-filled East Harlem day. We started the day with the One Harlem Community Service Day volunteer program I wrote about earlier on the blog. We were assigned work at the Modesto "Tin" Flores Garden on Lexington between 104th and 105th St. We planted flowers and did general clean up in the garden. I'm definitely going to go back and see how our flowers are doing in the next few weeks.
Afterwards we had brunch at Orbit and walked around the neighborhood listening to the ice cream truck music and watching spontaneous sidewalk parties erupt.

Hard at work in the garden

Sam and I celebrated a morning of hard work over Blue Moons at Orbit

NYC Green Cart on 110th and 3rd Ave.

Dusk in East Harlem


Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Proposal to Separate Fast Food and Schools

East Harlem has been in the news this week, although not for the best reasons. A recent study has shown that fast-food restaurants near schools increase the chances of students becoming obese. Not exactly breaking news, I know. Queens councilman Eric N. Gioia studied East Harlem's schools and found that 18 schools were within one block of a fast-food restaurant. He has proposed a ban on new fast food restaurants going up near schools. You can read more about it in an article I wrote for The Daily Green.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009



East Harlem Mediterranean

A fan of the blog (yes a fan!) suggested we check out Aurum, a Mediterranean restaurant on First Ave. We were excited to try it out, there aren't many Mediterranean restaurants in the area. We went late – around 10pm – on Saturday night for dinner. The restaurant is painted deep burgundy with exposed brick walls and is decorated with photos from local artists with lots of shots from around the neighborhood.

The food was fantastic: classic Mediterranean dishes and great wine. After being seated we were served rosemary seasoned bread, pickled hot peppers in olive oil and feta cheese. After wolfing that down we ordered a Mediterranean Salad with mixed greens – it was perfect and fresh. I ordered the Linguini Seafood which was subtle and seasoned perfectly. But the ribs, I would be amiss if I did not mention the ribs. Sam ordered the Braised Short Ribs, he waxed on poetically about them until I had to try them myself. These ribs were perfect – falling apart in all the right ways and totally worthy of Sam's praise.

They are hoping to have their back patio ready for seating this summer.

2252 First Avenue
(btwn 115th and 116th St.)

Phone: (646) 719-1157

Recommended Dishes/Drinks: Mediterranean Salad, Braised Short Ribs. Linguini Seafood Pasta

Average Dish Price: $14-$25