All over Harlem there are signs of construction as the city rebounds from Covid and contractors race to renovate brownstones and apartment buildings.
Scaffolding has gone up on a pair of dilapidated townhouses across the street from me, a sign that they will be next.
Tourists wandering through the neighborhood invariably pause to take photos.
It took me awhile to realize they did it because its what they thought Harlem should look like. It fit their image.
The recent Marvel series Luke Cage was set in Harlem and you could see a similar dynamic. The outdoor shots were recognizable because there are so few iconic places left.
One is a wine store called Fred’s on 114th and Lennox Avenue.
Another is a barber shop one block north. It has a big sign Barber Shop. Here is what it looks like.
What’s funny about the picture and how it’s used in the TV series is that if you pulled the camera back, you would notice this:
Barber Shop is next to a fancy French bakery called Le Petit Parisien that puts out tables and umbrellas on the sidewalk.
The juxtaposition of the two is more representative of the neighborhood.
But that may not be what tourists or Hollywood filmmakers think people want to see.