August 2017
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Harlem Record Shack, A Place That Matters

harlem record shackHarlem Record Shack at 274 W. 125th St., Harlem, nominated by Bobby Sanabria. Sikhulu Shange adopted NYC after coming here in 1964 to perform at the World’s Fair with a South African dance troupe. Four years later he opened the Harlem Record Shack, and four years after that moved the store to its present location, across the street from the Apollo Theater. All these years, he has been stocking the kinds of music that he and his customers have loved, whether or not the big companies or stores recognized its value. At the end of this month, the Record Shack will lose its lease, and Mr. Shange is trying to prevent it. Record stores like the Record Shack function like community centers for music and culture. Their knowledgeable proprietors, unusual inventory, and willingness to sell what might not be popular yet make them valuable. But discount stores, digital downloading, and development pressures are nearly doing them in. Bobby’s Happy House lost its right-off-125th St. location in January after being in business since 1946. Casa Amadeo (est. 1941, listed to the National Register of Historic Places) is struggling against outsized rent increases. One piece of good news is that Record Mart, a legendary Latin music store in the Times Square subway station, just re-opened after 9 years. Here are some things you can do: Shop: Harlem Record Shack, 212-866-1600 (Mr. Shange invites you to sign his Save the Record Shack petition) Casa Amadeo, Longwood, Bronx, 718-328-6896 Casa Latina, East Harlem, 212-427-6062, Listen: WFUV, 90.7 FM, Cityscape visits Casa Amadeo and interviews proprietor Mike Amadeo, City Lore folklorist Elena Martinez, and community activist Lorraine Montenegro. Sat. Mar.8, 7:30-8am. Podcast available, Follow the news: To see the city’s rezoning plans for 125th St., link to the Dept. of City Planning website.