Pols silent as thousands await charter spots in their districts

The waiting lists to get into charter schools are around the block in the districts of state Assembly members who haven’t challenged attempts to limit the alternative schools, according to data obtained by The Post.

In Harlem, where Keith Wright presides over a neighborhood with 15 charters, 3,975 kids are clamoring for seats.

Assemblyman Keith Wright (left) said he "hates" charter co-locations — despite the fact that nearly 4,000 kids in his district are hoping to be as lucky as this Success Academy Harlem student.

Assemblyman Keith Wright (left) said he “hates” charter co-locations — despite the fact that nearly 4,000 kids in his district are hoping to be as lucky as this Success Academy Harlem student.

But Wright told The Post he still opposes giving charters the right to share space in public school buildings, a practice known as “co-location.”

“I hate co-locations,” said Wright, who is chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Party. “It’s torn at the fabric of my community.”

Asked if the state should provide extra aid or facilities for the shut-out charters, he said, “We’re looking at everything.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and leaders of the state Senate are pushing for facility funds in the state budget to rescue charters that find themselves homeless under the policies of the de Blasio administration.

But the union-friendly, Democrat-run Assembly is resisting, Albany insiders said.

There are 15 charters in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn represented by Annette Robinson, with 2,323 students pleading to get in.

Gabriela Rosa of northern Manhattan has 2,196 students waiting for openings. Another 1,583 students are similarly situated in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn led by Nick Perry.

And James Brennan, who represents part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s home turf in brownstone Brooklyn, has 1,379 stranded charter students.

None of the four legislators responded to requests for comment about their positions.

But other Assembly members said they’ll go to the mat for charters.

East Harlem’s Robert Rodriguez has 14 charter schools and 2,790 students awaiting seats.

Rodriguez said charter schools deserve state aid to find their own building space.

“We should look at providing building funds to children in charter schools if they’re not co-located. If they are forced to move out and have to find private space, they should get money to do that,” Rodriguez said.

Matthew Titone, who has 954 students on waiting lists in his district on Staten Island’s North Shore, said charter schools in his area “do excellent work serving kids with special needs.”

There are currently 183 charter schools in the city serving 70,000 students.

More than 70,089 students have applied online for 22,000 new seats opening this fall — well ahead of the 44,910 applications filed at this time last year, sources said.

By Aaron Short and Carl Campanile

Seeing stars! Actor and former City Council candidate hopes to make ‘El Barrio Walk of Fame’ in East Harlem

Businessman, actor, and former City Council Candidate Edwin Marcial wants to give back to the East Harlem community by creating a local version of the Walk of Fame. ‘I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there,’ he tells The News.

Edwin Marcial wants to create an El Barrio Walk of Fame to honor local legends and stars on 106th St. between 3rd and Lexington Avenues.

Edwin Marcial wants to create an El Barrio Walk of Fame to honor local legends and stars on 106th St. between 3rd and Lexington Avenues.

Why should Hollywood have more fun than East Harlem?

A businessman, actor and former City Council candidate wants to create an “El Barrio Walk of Fame” on E. 106th St. between Third and Lexington Aves. to honor East Harlem stars and legends.

“I want to give it to the people who do something for El Barrio,” said Edwin

Businessman, actor, and former City Council Candidate Edwin Marcial wants to give back to the East Harlem community. ‘I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there,’ he tells The News.

Marcial. “I see so many artists in Harlem that deserve to be there.”

He dreams of a block dotted with marble plaques that would bear the likenesses of luminaries from the theater, music, dance, art, film and government, along with a brief bio and the name of the sponsor.

Local officials say they can see what Marcial means.

“A Walk of Fame in El Barrio would be another way to celebrate the many cultural icons and community leaders that have hailed from our neighborhood,” City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) said in a statement. “I look forward to working with members of the community to make this a reality.”

“We don’t always know our neighborhood history or neighborhood heroes, and this would be a great place to highlight some of that,” Brewer said.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

The project — which would cost an estimated $500,000 per side of the block — is being spearheaded by Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno Inc., an East Harlem arts and culture organization that Marcial heads.

A committee would select nominees and choose one man and one woman each year.

Marcial plans to reach out to divorced couple Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to be the keynote figures of the annual enshrinement, which he describes as a red-carpet event accompanied by street vendors.

“It’s a way to empower the artists in East Harlem and the community,” said Marcial, who expects a portion of the project to be completed by 2015, if all goes well.

But the ambitious community man has a long road ahead.

Marcial, 74, who launched three failed bids for the East Harlem City Council seat, still needs the approval of Community Board 11, of which he is a member. Members have asked that he provide more information after the holidays.

He also needs the green light from City Council and the city Department of Transportation.

Marcial said he would request money from the city, but he intends to raise much of the dough on his own.

It’s unclear, he says, how much it will cost to maintain the Walk of Fame, but he believes the attraction will attract tourists and their wallets to the neighborhood.

Already , Marcial says, a local politician could be one of the first on the far-from-approved Walk of Fame, but he remained coy, saying: “It’s going to be a surprise.”

jransom@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/hopes-el-barrio-walk-fame-harlem-article-1.1538580#ixzz2mkqUSScI

Evicted mosque’s Iman is having a hard time finding new home in evolving Harlem neighborhood

Masjid Aqsa Mosque, with a 1,500-member congregation, has been shunned by  landlords who would rather build luxury apartments.

Imam Souleimane Konate and congregants of the Masjid Aqsa Mosque in Harlem are now without a place of worship after they were evicted more than a week ago. The owner wants to build apartments.

Imam Souleimane Konate and congregants of the Masjid Aqsa Mosque in Harlem are now without a place of worship after they were evicted more than a week ago. The owner wants to build apartments.

A Harlem Imam and his 1,500-member congregation were evicted from their  longtime house of worship — and so far finding a new home in one of Manhattan’s  most quickly evolving neighborhoods has proven quite a challenge .

The man of Allah says he’s been shunned by Harlem landlords, who would  rather develop luxury apartments. “It’s very difficult to get a place in  Harlem now,” said Imam Souleimane Konate, of Masjid Aqsa Mosque, which operated  on Frederick Douglass Blvd. near W. 116th St. for about 15 years. “Not only is  the rent high, but it is difficult for people to accept the mosque.”

Konate says he has identified viable locations nearby, but so far their  owners have declined to tender him a lease.

Condominiums are sprouting up along Frederick Douglass Blvd. The posh Limore Condominiums are across the street from the shuttered mosque.

Condominiums are sprouting up along Frederick Douglass Blvd. The posh Limore Condominiums are across the street from the shuttered mosque.

The saga began two weeks ago, when city marshals evicted Konate after an  ongoing rent dispute with the building owner, Joseph Rabizadeh. The enterprising  owner would not comment on the dispute, but told the Daily News he plans to  begin construction on a residential complex at the former site of the mosque and  a row of five shuttered businesses.

I’m going to to develop the property,” Rabizadeh said, adding only that “they knew for two years” that this day would come.

It’s becoming a common dynamic along Frederick Douglass Blvd., where a chain  of posh residences have sprouted up in succession .

 The roughly 15-year-old mosque has been the heart of Harlem’s Little Africa  and served as a local community hub, providing educational, employment and other  services to African immigrants.

“The mosque was the umbrella, the house of the community,” said Fuad Meygag,  51. “If you were looking for a job, shelter or food . . . people new to the  country and needed help integrating (came here).”

There are other mosques nearby, but Konate said his center was also the only  one that provided religious services in French and Arabic, as well as  English.

Konate, whose lease expired last fall, said he knew his time on Frederick  Douglass Blvd. was limited. Rabizadeh charged in housing court that Konate owed  him $18,423 in back rent.

Konate argued he kept up with rent payments which had jumped from $4,000 to  $10,000 a month in recent years. The matter will be settled in court.

It looks like a long road for Konate and his congregants, who may find it  increasingly difficult to land a new home.

Frederick Douglass Blvd. was once a seedy strip, but its revitalization has  posed a threat to houses of worship

“Religious institutions that do not own their real estate are subject to the  whims of change of this real estate market,” said Curtis Archer, president of  the Harlem Development Corp., adding that ownership “ensures longevity.”

That, unfortunately, was not the reality for Konate and his congregants, who  now find themselves displaced .

“Everyone is calling me and saying ‘Imam, what are you going to do? Do you  have a plan for us?’ ” Konate said. “I have to get a place for them.”

jransom@nydailynews.com

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/evicted-mosque-find-new-home-harlem-article-1.1511483#ixzz2kGbn8zbJ

The Black Jews of Harlem

Rabbi Matthew, Founder of the Commandment Keepers of Harlem

Rabbi Matthew, Founder of the Commandment Keepers of Harlem

The Black Jews of Harlem are a minority ethnic group in New York who first appeared in the early 1900s. By 1930 there were at least four groups of Black Jews in Harlem.  The most important of these groups was The Commandment Keepers Holy Church of the Living God.  Commandment Keepers’ founder, Rabbi Matthew, described the natural link between people of African descent and Judaism which he claimed extended from Abraham through King Solomon of Israel and Queen Sheba of Ethiopia who founded the line of kings who ruled Ethiopia.  He affirmed that the “original” Jews were black people, or at least people of  non-European descent who inhabited northeastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Yet, the Black Jews of Harlem were typically West Indian, East African, or South American in origin.

The specific origins of the Jewish faith among the blacks are obscure.  Some observers trace it to West Africa where a number of ethnic groups have customs so similar to Judaism that an ancient connection may have been established.  More recently Jewish slaveholders in the Caribbean may have influenced their bonds people and in isolated situations such as intermarriage or conversions, thus introducing the faith to black West Indians.  These Black Jews and their descendants gradually embraced the Orthodox religious and cultural traditions most Jews see as common practice today.  By the 1930s Commandment Keepers observed all Jewish holidays, ate only kosher foods, performed bar mitzvahs and circumcisions, and separated men’s and women’s seats at the synagogue with a mechitza. Rabbi Matthew, who recognized that many Jewish traditions were European in origin, tried to incorporate African, Caribbean, and other American traditions into his community with little success.

The existence of the Black Jews of Harlem challenged prevailing ideas about race and religion during this period in which most observers considered blacks and Jews as separate racial categories.  Moreover, although most Jews had historically described themselves as a race, by the 1930s, many of the descendants of the 19th Century immigrants from Europe were beginning to claim “white status” and thus refused to accept “black” Jews. White Jews in Harlem often argued that being a Jew had many social and economic challenges of its own without the perceived potential challenge of being associated with black people in a society which embraced white supremacy.

The Black Jews of Harlem were and continue to be a relatively small sect.  They were typically poor, and maintained a very marginal status. Their existence consistently called into question the nature of Jewishness, as both white and black Jews defined the Black Jews groups differently, never finding consensus.

Sources: Howard Brotz, The Black Jews of Harlem: Negro Nationalism and the Dilemmas of Negro Leadership (New York: The Free Press, 1964); Roberta S. Gold, “The Black Jew of Harlem: Representation, Identity, and Race,1920-1939,” American Quarterly 55: 2 (Jun. 2003). JSTOR. Retrieved 2009-03-8; Eric Herschthal, “Decline of A Black Synagogue,” The Jewish Week. (July 2007); http://joi.org/bloglinks/black%20synagogue%20Jewish%20Week.htm; Rabbi Sholomo Ben Levy, “The Black Jewish or Hebrew Israelite Community,” Jewish Virtual Library (The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise: 2009), http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/blackjews.html.

Contributor:

University of Washington, Seattle

Excerpt From 1st Black Female Novelist

The fugitive slave writes about her childhood experiences as a house servant.

Chapter 1

In Childhood

Look not upon me because I am black; because the sun hath looked upon me. SONG OF SOLOMON

(Special to The Root) -- The Bondwoman's Narrative is believed to be the first novel ever written by an African-American woman. The book was purchased at auction by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in 2001 and published in 2002, becoming a best-seller. New research has uncovered the identity of the mystery author. She was Hannah Bond, a fugitive slave from North Carolina. This excerpt is written as it first appeared, with the original edit markings and spellings.

(Special to The Root) — The Bondwoman’s Narrative is believed to be the first novel ever written by an African-American woman. The book was purchased at auction by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in 2001 and published in 2002, becoming a best-seller. New research has uncovered the identity of the mystery author. She was Hannah Bond, a fugitive slave from North Carolina. This excerpt is written as it first appeared, with the original edit markings and spellings.

It may be that I assume to[o] much responsibility in attempting to write these pages. The world will probably say so, and I am aware of my deficiencies. I am neither clever, nor learned, nor talented. When a child they used to scold and find fault with me because they said I was dull and stupid. Perhaps under other circumstances and with more encouragement I might have appeared better; for I was shy and reserved and scarce dared open my lips to any one I had none of that quickness and animation which are so much admired in children, but rather a silent unobtrusive way of observing things and events, and wishing to understand them better than I could.

I was not brought up by any body in particular that I know of. I had no training, no cultivation. The birds of the air, or beasts of the feild are not freer from moral culture than I was. No one seemed to care for me till I was able to work, and then it was Hannah do this and Hannah do that, but I never complained as I found a sort of pleasure and something to divert my thoughts in employment. Of my relatives I knew nothing. No one ever spoke of my father or mother, but I soon learned what a curse was attached to my race, soon learned that the African blood in my veins would forever exclude me from the higher walks of life. That toil unremitted unpaid toil must be my lot and portion, without even the hope or expectation of any thing better. This seemed the harder to be borne, because my complexion was almost white, and the obnoxious descent could not be readily traced, though it gave a rotundity to my person, a wave and curl to my hair, and perhaps led me to fancy pictorial illustrations and flaming colors.

The busiest life has its leisure moments; it was so with mine. I had from the first an instinctive desire for knowledge and the means of mental improvement. Though neglected and a slave, I felt the immortal longings in me. In the absence of books and teachers and schools I determined to learn if not in a regular, approved, and scientific way. I was aware that this plan would meet with opposition, perhaps with punishment. My master never permitted his slaves to be taught. Education in his view tended to enlarge and expand their ideas; made them less subservient to their superiors, and besides that its blessings were destined to be conferred exclusively on the higher and nobler race. Indeed though he was generally easy and good-tempered, there was nothing liberal or democratic in his nature. Slaves were slaves to him, and nothing more. Practically he regarded them not as men and women, but in the same light as horses or other domestic animals. He supplied their necessities of food and clothing from motives of policy, but [di] scounted the ideas of equality and fraternity as preposterous and absurd. Of course I had nothing to expect from him, yet “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

I was employed about the house, consequently my labors were much easier than those of the field servants, and I enjoyed intervals of repose and rest unknown to them. Then, too, I was a mere child and some hours of each day were allotted to play. On such occasions, and while the other children of the house were amusing themselves I would quietly steal away from their company to ponder over the pages of some old book or newspaper that chance had thrown in [my] way. Though I knew not the meaning of a single letter, and had not the means of finding out I loved to look at them and think that some day I should probably understand them all.

My dream was destined to be realized. One day while sitting on a little bank, beneath the shade of some large trees, at a short distance from my playmates,  an aged woman approached me. She was white, and looked venerable with her grey hair smoothly put back beneath a plain sun bonnet, and I recollected having seen her once or twice at my master’s house whither she came to sell salves and ointments, and hearing it remarked that she was the wife of a sand-digger and very poor.

She smiled benevolently and inquired why I concealed my book, and with child-like artlessness I told her all. How earnestly I desired knowledge, how our Master interdicted it, and how I was trying to teach myself. She stood for a few moments apparently buried in deep thought, but I interpreted her looks and actions favorably, and an idea struck me that perhaps she could read, and would become my teacher. She seemed to understand my wish before I expressed it.

Continue reading

Harlem Stage Gatehouse – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, iPod

In celebration of artists of color

In October 2006, Aaron Davis Hall moved into its new home in the Gatehouse and became known as Harlem Stage. This breathtaking structure, designed by Frederick S. Cook in a Romanesque Revival style, was part of the Croton Aqueduct water system. In 1981, this extraordinary structure was designated a landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Harlem Stage is recognized for its creation and development of new works by performing artists of color. Programs include: Waterworks, which supports the creation of significant new works and provides a forum for dialogue between artists and audiences; Harlem Stage on Screen, which supports the works of independent film makers; Harlem Stride, which offers a laboratory for musicians to explore historic and new trends in music, develop collaborative projects, participate in humanities activities with audiences, and present unique and exceptional music programs; E-Moves, an annual program where emerging choreographers showcase their work, which ranges from modern dance to contemporary ballet, hip-hop, and dance theater; SundayWorks, which is a free reading series for artists to present new works; Harlem Stage Partners Program, which supports co-presentations with significant artists and organizations; and Fund for New Work, which provides direct support to emerging artists through commissions, subsidized rehearsal space, and/or workshop presentations.

Visit the recently reopened Aaron Davis Hall they will provide quality low cost performances for the community. Then you can also explore some of New York City’s beautiful Collegiate Gothic-designed buildings on the City College of New York campus.

Transportation: Bus—M4, M5, M11, M100, M101 to 135th Street. Subway—A, B, C, D to 125th, 1 to 137th St.

Enjoy the show

Features

  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website www.welcometoharlem.com
Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Welcome-to-Harlem/464732145003
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Blogwww.welcometoharlem.wordpress.com

Exhibit explores gay life during Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance As Gay As It Was Black,” a traveling art exhibit at the Pride Center of North Central Florida, explores the life of gay men and women in Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s and profiles artists who may have been gay, lesbian and bisexual.

More than 40 people attended a reception and exhibit opener last Friday at the Pride Center, 3131 NW 13th St. Suite 62. The exhibit celebrates artists, writers, musicians and performers working in Harlem during 1920s and 1930s, aka the Harlem Renaissance. It also profiles leading gay, lesbian and bisexual artists who lived and worked in Harlem during that period.

Held in conjunction with King Celebration 2011, the exhibit, which will run through Feb. 19, is sponsored by the Pride Center and the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida. The exhibit is free and can be viewed from 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Pride Center.

“I saw it in South Florida and it struck me as extremely important,” said Terry Fleming, president of the Pride Center.

The exhibit notes that New York had laws banning homosexuality in the 1920s and 1930s. It also states that “very few of the artists and writers profiled in this exhibit can be considered “out” or “gay” in any modern sense of the term.”

The exhibit consists of visually stunning posters that take an indepth look at the Harlem Renaissance and features leading artists and celebrities of the period.

Some of those featured are said to be gay, including Alain Locke, a Howard University professor and editor of “The New Negro” anthology; Richard Bruce Nugent, who wrote “Smoke, Lilies, and Jade,” the first published African-American gay short story; the great blues singer, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, and A’Leila Walker, the daughter of Madame C.J. Walker, who built a fortune on hair-straightening products.

Fleming said the primary purpose of the exhibit is to raise awareness about the Harlem Renaissance and to promote renewed commitment to work in the community to overcome racism and homophobia.

Another purpose, said Fleming, is to educate about the intersection between the gay community and the African-American community, to stimulate dialogue about issues of importance, and to engage the community in programs to combat both racism and homophobia.

“It (Harlem Renaissance era) is an important moment in time that we need to remember,” Fleming said.

Stephanie Gust and Alicia Lewis, both students at the University of Florida, praised the exhibit for exposing them to the Harlem Renaissance and for providing an opportunity to learn about the life of African Americans working in Harlem during that period.

“They were dealing with a double-edge sword — racism and homophobia,” Gust said.

Fleming said he wants people who come to the exhibit to take away an enthusiasm to build bridges recognizing the intersection between the gay community and the African-American community and to work together.

“It’s important we stay involved and make things happen,” Fleming said.

By Aida Mallard
Special to the Guardian

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:27 p.m.

Celebrate Black History: The Harlem Fine Arts Show

The Harlem Fine Arts Show is a fine art exposition showcasing contemporary works created by artists to reflect African- American ancestry. The show consists of premier exhibitors who display the best art pieces by both emerging and established artists.  The rewards of the Harlem Fine Arts Show are outstanding.  The Show’s unique ability to reach a targeted upscale African-American demographic is incomparable.

This very special Art Show  develops  the long-neglected area of African-American culture, history and economic structure.  The Show’s artists have found that this show brings together a huge audience of knowledgeable and interested African-Americans who also have the wherewithal to purchase this body of original art.  This merging of art and buyers have proven to be a strong platform for influencing trends in a pleasant cultural and social atmosphere. It is precisely this atmosphere that corporations can use to leverage consumers who see supporters of the Show as being supporters of African-Americans.

An essential aim of the Show, through sales of their work, is the enabling of these artists to be able to afford to pursue their artistic goals and develop the inherent talents given them.  Sales of their artwork are essential to the economic well being necessary to afford classes, art materials, and a living as professional artists.  The extremely strong sales at the Show have done just that.  One can see the progress made by many of these artists by viewing the growth in the quality of the material they bring to the Show.

While extremely important to African-Americans, the Show is of undeniable benefit to Americans of all colors and ethnicity.  The obvious duality of benefit, in this regard, should be recognized.  There are many Latinos, Asians and mainstream Whites who attend the Show and can be leveraged towards your brand as well.

In addition, Black History Month heightens the tremendous coverage the Show receives via radio, television, and the printed media.

Time: February 25, 2011 to February 27, 2011
Location: Historic Riverside Church Complex
Street: 490 Riverside Drive
City/Town: New York City
Website or Map: http://hfas.org/index/
Event Type: fine, arts, show
Organized By: Harlem Fine Arts Show
Latest Activity: 8 hours ago

“Franco the Great” Paints Christmas in Harlem

125th Street is “Franco’s Boulevard.” If you’ve seen the murals of Barack Obama or Martin Luther King Jr. on storefront gates there, chances are Franco Gaskin has painted them. Gaskin – who calls himself “Franco the Great” but points out that others have christened him “Franco the Magnificent” – has been painting gates for 30 years.

“This is my contribution to Harlem,” he said.

http://theuptowner.org/2010/12/07/franco-the-great-paints-christmas-in-harlem/

A native of Panama, he’s been painting since childhood. At 3, Gaskin fell from a building in an accident that left him mute and introverted; using art to connect with others, he began speaking again, with difficulty, at 10. Now 83, Gaskin has been invited all over the world – Germany, Japan, Italy – to paint.

During the Christmas season, Gaskin paints winter scenes and other holiday-themed décor on storefronts across Harlem.

By Marina Kolobova and Medina Roshan on Dec 7th, 2010 Email Marina about this story

A guide to the booming Harlem nabe

Aloft Harlem, the nabe’s first new hotel in over 40 years, is the latest in a string of chic boutiques, restaurants and cocktail lounges on Frederick Douglass Blvd. above 110th St. The area’s first beer garden opened in August, and luxury condos are cropping up on every corner. No wonder realtors call this bustling stretch of Eighth Ave. Harlem’s Gold Coast.

*The booming boulevard begins at Frederick Douglass Circle (Central Park North & Frederick Douglass Blvd.), where a monument to the abolitionist was completed in June (pictured above). The B and C trains at 110th St.-Central Park North bring visitors to the vibrant corridor running up to 125th St.

*Niche shops like MODSquad Cycles (2119 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; above left), Bebenoir Boutique (2164 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) and the just-opened Bibi Salon (2220 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) are meeting the rising demand of incoming professionals. “We’re bringing a service into a neighborhood that really needed it,” says Laralyn Mowers, 31, from MODSquad, which rents out bikes and hawks customized wheels for up to $4,500. “Sometimes kids come in with a flat tire, and we’ll patch it for no charge.”

New eateries are expanding the area’s palate, like Patisserie des Ambassades (2200 Frederick Douglass Blvd., above right) and Questan’s (2113 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) with its seafood specials. The 5 & Diamond (2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) opened in March with organic American fare, and upper West Side favorite Levain Bakery will open at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. next year.

*Harlem was poised to be New York’s next It nabe three years ago until the real estate crash halted many projects. Now as more students and young families settle uptown, investors are taking over vacant lots and empty storefronts to build new businesses.

The condo boom, however, has some longtime residents worried about getting priced out. The FDB 2280 (2280 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) luxury complex prides itself as Harlem’s “new standard” of living, while the one-bedrooms at the Livmor (301 W. 115th St.) begin selling at $460,000.


*Bier International (2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; above), Harlem’s first beer garden, opened in August with nine international and domestic drafts, plus scores of bottles. “This is what the neighborhood needed,” says co-owner Chris Pollok. “My partner and I have been in business for years, mostly in the East Village, but now everything is happening here!” There’s more on tap: Harlem Tavern opens next month at 116th St.

*”The lounge culture has gotten really popular,” says Malik Sharif, who works at Moca Lounge (2210 Frederick Douglass Blvd.). Karl Williams at 67 Orange St. (2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd., shown above) is also bringing the cocktail culture of Death & Co. uptown. “This area is really starting to open up, and I love it,” says the Harlem resident. “I don’t have to go downtown to go ­shopping or have a good cocktail. We’re creating that downtown experience up here.”

*Iconic pieces honoring Harlem’s history still color the nabe, such as the 30-by-11-foot Spirit of Harlem glass mosaic by Brooklyn native Louis Del Sarte (80 W. 125th St.; above left), or the nearby Swing Low: A Memorial to Harriet Tubman bronze sculpture by Allison Saar (123rd St. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.) celebrating the Underground Railroad leader.

* Plenty of local artisans still sell their wares between the bars and chic boutiques. One vendor from Burkina Faso sells handmade West African-style jewelry for a song, including carved wooden bangles and necklaces for $7 to $10, and glass rings for $5 (above right).

*The Aloft Harlem hotel (2296 Frederick Douglass Blvd.) opened on Thursday with 124 rooms averaging $239 a night, plus a gym, a bar/lounge area and outdoor patio. Says local resident Ashtan Pina, 21, “This area is booming, and yet, those places like the Apollo and Sylvia’s that make Harlem Harlem are still here.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2010/12/05/2010-12-05_frederick_douglass_boulevard_a_guide_to_the_harlem_nabe_thats_attracting_new_peo.html#ixzz17HGGaVlo