125th Street, 4
The Blumstein's sign remains, but the store is long gone. The building was constructed in 1923, designed by Robert D. Kohn and Charles Butler, incorporating both Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements.
Here is a close-up of some of its copper colonettes.
This is a significant cultural, as well as architectural site. Despite the fact that most of the store's customers were the African-Americans who had recently moved into Harlem, the store refused to hire blacks for anything but menial positions. In the 1930s, a successful boycott supported by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., resulted in a change in that policy.
On the north side of the street is a closed 5-plex movie theater that was previously the Loew's Victoria, and originally a vaudeville house, designed by noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb in 1916.
A few doors to the west is possibly the most famous site on 125th Street, the recently restored and renovated Apollo Theater. The theater was built in 1913, as the Hurtig & Seamon's New Burlesque Theater, designed by George Keister. Black performers began to perform here in the 1930s and the list of stars who have appeared on its stage is very long and impressive. Some of those, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and James Brown, first came to the attention of the public at the theater's popular amateur shows. I saw James Brown here in the mid 1960s. The restoration of the building was conducted by Beyer Blinder Belle.
On Frederick Douglas Blvd, just to the south, is the Magic Johnson Theater
in a glassy, multi-use Skidmore, Owings & Merrill building constructed in 1999. Perhaps more than any other single enterprise, this building and its tenants symbolized what some have called the second Harlem renaissance. The building is a designated interior and exterior landmark.
At Mornngside Avenue is a little restaurant that was closed for the month of July. Its intriguing sign, "Old Fashion' but Good!" are an inducement for me to revisit, some day when I'm not dieting.