The Boro Hotel, long condemned at 125th and 5th, appears to be coming down. I passed by yesterday and found it shrouded in demolition netting, its cornice wrecked. I was unable to get a picture, so these images from my visit to 125th last fall will have to do. (If you've got a shot, please add it to the VNY Flickr pool with any info you might have about this building...and here's a pic of the shrouded hotel.)
pics: my flickr
I'm not sure what's coming to this corner--covered above by a car advertisement showing the city's prickly, sleek vision for this neighborhood--but a possible suspect is this luxury hotel:
I love the Boro Hotel's yellow sign with its 1970s(?)-style typeface, but sadly can't find any information about the place.
However, on the first floor, on the 5th Ave side, there was a well-known, locally owned restaurant called La Famille, opened in 1958 by two sisters, Willette Craine Murray and Viola James, with their husbands, Oswald and Ben. According to Ms. Murray's obituary, she was one of the first African-American women to work on 125th Street, a position she fought for by marching in picket lines. She washed dishes in a dime-store and later helped to build La Famille into a Harlem favorite.
La Famille is gone and all traces of it will soon vanish, too, under the crush of Harlem's rezoning. This weekend, you can join The Coalition to Save Harlem in a human chain that will stretch the length of 125th Street, from river to river, and back through generations, back to Ms. Murray and all the people who fought for the right to make a dime, to build and nurture businesses of their own--businesses that are now being taken away by the new shapers of the city, people like "blue-blooded Upper East Side A-lister" Amanda Burden who was blasted last month by Harlem historian and author Michael Henry Adams. His angry words to her are well worth repeating:
"You're a rich, rich, rich horrible person. You're destroying our communities. You're a rich, rich socialite. You're a rich, rich socialite. How dare you! You're destroying Harlem. You're getting rid of all the black people."