Harlem: Art, Hats and Rugelach on the No Regrets Tour


Ellington gastropub signage NYCFrom 1923 until his death in 1974 at the age of 75, composer and pianist Duke Ellington was the bandleader of the most celebrated jazz orchestra in American history. His performances at the Cotton Club in Harlem are legendary and he wrote more than 1,000 musical compositions throughout his lifetime – a staggering number of which quickly became standards. Duke appeared as himself in six Hollywood movies from 1929 to 1950, including Cabin in the Sky, the 1943 musical directed by Vincent Minelli which featured an all-black cast that included Ethel Waters, Rex Ingrahm, Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong. To date, his music has been featured on more than 340 soundtracks for films, documentaries and television series. More than 40 years after Ellington’s passing, his music continues to influence new musicians in all genres and to be enjoyed by a worldwide audience. For this week’s Listen Up we’d like to share a 1964 performance of “Take the A Train,” prefaced by Ellington’s introduction of his writing and arranging partner, Billy Strayhorn, and featuring vocals by the orchestra’s double-bass player Ernie Shepard. Ellington photo above: signage for the  gastropub, The Ellington, on the corner of Amsterdam and Duke Ellington Blvd. The restaurant also has a popular outdoor summer location, Ellington in the Park, overlooking the Hudson in Riverside Park.


Tim Cockey posing Dr Style stairway Riverside Park Harlem

Close up Harriet Tubman statue Swing Low Harlem New York

zipper zippertravelwoman recording boy playing violin Morningside Park Harlem NYCzipper zippertravelwoman passing Reflections Aya Rodriguez-Izumi Morningside Park Harlemzipper zippertravelChurch sculpture garden Harlemzipper zippertravelweeping willow lake waterfall Morningside Park Harlem NYCzipper zippertravelSeligman Fountain Morningside Parzipper zippertravelBoy with painted turtle Morningside Park Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel Morningside Park Basketball court Harlemzipper zippertravel Swing Low Harriet Tubman Memorial Harlemzipper zippertravelmuslim women approaching Harriet Tubman Triangle Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel

Hate is Sin Faith Ringgold Whitney MuseuWalking through the streets and parks of Morningside Heights and lower Harlem on a late summer afternoon, a noble statue of Harriet Tubman — looking like a woman who’s hell bent on a mission — watches over us as we pass stately rows of brownstones and pre-war high rises, shops (such as the fantastic Flamekeepers Hat Club, see Dr. Style below), Art in Flux pop-up displays, restaurants, outdoor cafes and bakeries. Lee Lee’s Baked Goods draws us in through its wooden screen door with the sweet aroma of apricot rugelach. Yes, that’s rugelach, which has been receiving wildly enthusiastic testimonials and city proclamations since 1964. And there’s just something about the fading rose patterned wall paper (that appears to have been there for the last 53 years) and the framed images of weddings, graduations, babies, Jackie Robinson, and Malcolm X that makes you feel like you’ve just been welcomed into Alvin Lee’s home.

Our exploration of Harlem continued beyond the village to the arts and culture which have traveled outside its physical boundaries. In the Meatpacking District, photographs, paintings and sculptures from the Harlem Renaissance brought Harlem of the 1920’s and ‘30’s to life as part of the Whitney Museum’s No One  Exists Alone exhibit, and on a floor below, the artistic expression of the  African-American ongoing struggle for civil rights figures prominently in An Incomplete History of Protest. In the library and on the Poetry Foundation website, we discovered or revisited the writings of Harlem novelists and poets James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, and Countee Cullen. They say that the Harlem Renaissance ended in the 1930’s, but in truth, it’s a never-ending story with twists and turns, struggles and celebrations, and an indomitable spirit. Next time you are in New York, be sure to swipe your MetroCard for a ride uptown on the A train.

zipper zippertravelshelved hats Flamekeepers Hat Club Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel King Queen for Day Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel Owner Marc Williamson Flamekeepers Hat Club Harlem NYCzipper zippertravelStreet art mural Amsterdam Avenue Harlem NYCzipper zippertravelSteve Saden St John Divine Harlemzipper zippertravelCousin Susan Porter Harlem 1915 James Van Der Zee Whitney Museum American Artzipper zippertravel Do unto others Harlem NYC St John Divinezipper zippertravelGordon Parks photograph Whitney Museumzipper zippertravelDread Scott A Man was lynched by police yesterday banner Whitney Museumzipper zippertravelRugelach by a brother Lee Lees Baked Goods Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel In Flux Artwork Harlem Store windowzipper zippertravel Lee Lee's Baked Goods Harlem NYCzipper zippertravelHarlem brownstoneszipper zippertravelLee Lee's Baked Goods proclamation wall Harlem NYCzipper zippertravel Art in Flux Harlem storefront window Ruben Natal San Miguel Somewhere over the Border (Land of the Free)zipper zippertravel

Dr Style Harlem Narrative

guard Calder stabile Whitney Museum

2 thoughts on “Harlem: Art, Hats and Rugelach on the No Regrets Tour

  1. We love this post — we were so happy to share some of our favorite spots in Harlem, as we ourselves are learning more about the neighborhood. Extra special props to The Flamekeepers Hat Club and the Harriet Tubman sculpture by Alison Saar. Just sorry that we didn’t steer you to the wonderful Patisserie des Ambassades — wonderful croissant and outrageously fantastic pain aux raisins.

    And a small correction — we are friends with another artist named Alison Shapiro, who is a friend with Alison Saar!

    1. Thank you on so many fronts. Next time we’ll definitely visit Patisserie des Ambassades. Got it on the correction, I think I must have misremembered what Tim told me. However, having made that comment on the blog, it turns out Alison Saar is indeed a good friend of two of our friends in LA. The world is indeed a very small place.

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