2012: The Uptown Year In Review

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

July 4th Fireworks Washington Heights

Photo: Blast Luciano

I have been telling everyone that would listen, 2013 will be the year of Washington Heights.

2013 will be the year that the world finally wakes up and realizes the alchemy that is taking place Uptown.

2013 will be the year the Uptown Renaissance will thrust itself on the national and international stage. Washington Heights is not just an extremely diverse and dynamic community on the northern tip of Manhattan, it is an idea; it is a Latino American Mecca as well as the unofficial third capital of the Dominican Republic. 2013 will be the tipping point.

With that said, let’s take a look at the year that was.

We started the year with the terrible news that a massive fire had tore through a wide swath of 207th Street and Broadway and left devastation and destruction in its wake. In one fell swoop, several businesses such as Bread and Yoga studio, Dichter’s Pharmacy, and Burhan Hardware among others were lost. But even before the fire was extinguished, the community had begun the process of helping those affected by the inferno. Check out this poignant piece by Gloria Pazmiño on the neighborhood’s determination to come together to heal and rebuild.

Check out: The Fire was Ugly, this is Beautiful

207th Street Fire

On a more positive note, the opening reception for Mike Fitelson’s excellent “North Manhattan As Muse” exhibit at NoMAA, which took place the same week as the fire, was the perfect way to kick off an incredible year for the arts in Washington Heights.

Check out: On last night and what comes next…

North Manhattan As Muse

The Uptown Collective was on hand on January 11th to witness hood hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda, perform a sneak preview of the brilliant The Hamilton Mixtape, a hip-hop song cycle about the life and death of Alexander Hamilton at the opening of Lincoln Center’s venerable American Songbook series. Miranda first performed part of The Hamilton Mixtape for President Obama and the first lady at the White House; the exceptional performance took place on Alexander Hamilton’s 255th birthday.

Check out: The Alexander Hamilton Mixtape: History Revived, Revitalized & Remixed

Lin Manuel

Later that month, I had the privilege of sitting down with Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso for a wide-ranging conversation about Comic Books, social change & First Lady Michelle Obama.

Check out: Q&A With Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso: Comic Books, Change & the First Lady

Axel Alonso Marvel

We ended the month on a high note with the Bago Bunch’s Back to Business Brunch at Pick and Eat.

Check out: The Bago Bunch Back to Business Brunch – The Recap

Bago Brunch - Pick N Eat

Early February saw the grand opening of Buddha Beer Bar, which is one of my favorite places to grab a craft beer and watch the Knicks.

Check out: Open For Business: Buddha Beer Bar

Buddha Beer Bar

The UC was also in the building for the video release party for the infectious Mafioso by Los Gambinos at Altus.

Check out: Los Gambinos Video Release Party In Pictures

Los Gambinos

Our very own Shabazz Center was the host for the poignant and interactive The Freedom’s Sisters exhibit.

Check out: Freedom’s Sisters – The Untold Story

Shabazz Center - Freedom Sisters

That same month, I had the distinct pleasure to be in attendance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the unveiling of Emilio Sosa’s newest collection, Urban Geisha.

Check out: Emilio Sosa Unveils Latest Collection Urban Geisha

Emilio Sosa

The Led Black Book Club featuring author Robb Todd was pretty darn cool. You should definitely read Robb Todd’s Steal Me For Your Stories, click here to purchase or check out: Excerpt: Steal Me For Your Stories.


The Led Black Book Club ft Robb Todd @ Apt 78 In Pictures

The Led Black Book Club ft Robb Todd @ Apt 78 – The Recap

Led Black Book Club Robb Todd

There is nothing like a Dominican Independence Day Uptown, nothing…

Check out: Dominican Independence Day Gone Viral

Related: The Dominican Independence Day Gala @ The Hispanic Society of America In Pictures

Dominican Independence Day - Washington Heights

Our very own Wallace Flores was on hand to capture the annual Coogan’s Run.

Check out: Coogan’s Run 2012 In Pictures

Coogan's Run 2012

The Sip & Shop function at Dyckman Bar featuring Psyberia was awesome as always.

Check out: Sip & Shop @ Dyckman Bar ft Psyberia In Pictures

Sip & Shop Dyckman Bar

We celebrated with the good folks of Urban Latino Magazine at their 100th Issue Bash. Shout out to our good friend Madelyn Rodriguez for hosting the festivities and Tony Touch for doing his thing as always.

Check out: The Urban Latino 100th Issue Bash – The Recap

Urban Latino - Madelyn Rodriguez Tony Touch

On April 1st we added a U to C-Rock!


The UC was also invited to attend the unveiling of the new NFL uniforms and geared designed by Nike.

Check out: The Unveiling: Nike + NFL

Nike + NFL Unveiling

Victor Cruz - NY Giants

The Ford Motor Company gave us an exclusive look at The 2013 Ford Fusion.

Check out: Uptown Car Love: The 2013 Ford Fusion

2013 Ford Fusion

The month of May saw another Sip & Shop event at Dyckman Bar featuring one of my favorite brands, Classic Material.

Check out: Sip & Shop @ Dyckman Bar ft Classic Material In Pictures

Sip Shop Classic Material Dyckman Bar

Drums Along the Hudson 2012 was beautiful as it always is. This is one of my favorite events of the year.

Check out: Drums Along the Hudson 2012 – Be Heard Edition

Related: Drums Along the Hudson 2012 – Art By Dj Boy Edition

Drums Along the Hudson

Drums Along the Hudson 2012

Our Nutcracker Inc. project was featured in the NY Daily News in May. Shout out to journalist Michael Feeney for the great story.

Check out: Filmmakers tell story of ‘nutcracker,’ a boozy beverage created in Washington Heights

Nutcracker Inc - NY Daily News

Our very own Art By Dj Boy was on hand for the Opening Day at the Inwood Canoe Club.

Check out: Boats in the Hood – Opening Day @ the Inwood Canoe Club

Inwood Canoe Club

The World Science Festival kicked off at the United Palace with the rousing Icarus at the Edge of Time performance at the end of May.

Check out: Icarus at the Edge of Time @ the United Palace

World Science Festival United Palace

Speaking of the United Palace, the 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll Opening Night took place at that fabulous venue. Much love goes out to NoMAA and all the people and artists that make June such a special month Uptown.

Check out: The 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll Kick-Off – The Recap

Related: The 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll Kick Off – Art By Dj Boy Edition

NoMAA Arts Stroll Kick-off

The one and only Junot Díaz wished Word Up Books a Happy Birthday on it’s one year anniversary as part of the Uptown Arts Stroll.

Check out: Junot Diaz Wishes Word Up Books A Happy Birthday!

Junot Diaz Word Up Books

The UC was in attendance for Audubon’s breakthrough performance at Phuket Lounge. We have been saying for quite some time now that Audubon is a star. Check out the performance on MTV’s new docu-series that premieres on January 9th at 10 pm.

Check out: Washington Heights Stand Up – Audubon @ Phuket Lounge

Audubon Phuket Lounge

We also had an utterly stupendous 2-Year Anniversary Bash at Negro Claro.

Check out: The UC 2-Year Anniversary Bash @ Negro Claro – The Recap

UC 2 Year Bash @ Negro Claro
To help cope with the summer heat, we posted this hilarious skit by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Our Nutcracker Awareness Day event at Le Chéile on Saturday, June 30th was an awesome precursor to the closing reception for the 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll.

Check out: Nutcracker Awareness Day – The Recap

Related: Nutcracker Awareness Day @ Le Chéile In Pictures

Nutcracker Awareness Day

The 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll Closing Reception was held in pioneering establishment, Arka Lounge.

Check out: The 2012 Uptown Arts Stroll Closing Reception @ Arka Lounge

Related: The Uptown Arts Stroll Closing Reception @ Arka Lounge in Pictures

NoMAA Arts Stroll Closing Ceremony

We also featured amazing, on-the-ground, coverage of the 4th of July in the hood.

Check out: July 4th in the Heights – The Recap

Fireworks July 4th Washington Heights

This summer also saw the opening of the swank and sophisticated La Marina. La Marina is a special place Uptown and in the short few months that is has been in operation it has generated a ton of press coverage and visits from such distinguished names as Jay-Z, Beyonce, Leonardo DiCaprio and many other big stars.

Check out: Open for Business: La Marina

La Marina Washington Heights

No Uptown Summer is complete without a visit to the best place for Streetball in all of New York City, Dyckman Park.

Check out: Streetball Lives @ Dyckman Park

Streetball Dyckman Park

We had to shoot down downtown for Oveous Maximus’ “Kill Your Myth” Listening Party at Katra.

Check out: Oveous Maximus “Kill Your Myth” Listening Party @ Katra – The Recap


Oveous Kill Your Myth Listening Party

We also sat down with artist and provocateur Alan Ket after the NYPD arbitrarily decided to remove a legal mural that they found offensive.

Check out: Q&A With Alan Ket: Art, Censorship and Murder

Alan Ket

20 years ago in July, parts of the neighborhood went up in flames during the 1992 Washington Heights Riots. Wee marked the occasion with a post on the progress that has been made since then.

Check out: The Washington Heights Phoenix – From Riots to Renaissance


The Washington Heights Riots of 1992 Remembered – Part 1

The Washington Heights Riots of 1992 Remembered – Part 2

1992 Washington Heights Riots

We also took a trip to Washington D.C. for the first ever National Dominican Celebration in the nation’s capital.

Check out:  The 2012 National Dominican Celebration – From Washington Heights to Washington D.C.

Dominican National Convention

August in NYC, means the Dominican Day Parade and the UC was there to capture the magic.

Check out: The 2012 Dominican Day Parade In Pictures

Related: My 2012 Dominican Day Parade Adventure

Dominican Day Parade

Did you know that this summer saw an outbreak of Ghosts in Fort Tryon Park?

Check out: Ghosts of Manhattan In Pictures

Ghosts of Manhattan

There was also sad news in August, the mysterious artist and nature lover Young Jee passed away. Young Jee was known for making beautiful natural art installations in the woods of Inwood Hill Park. Rest in peace Young Jee.

Check out: Rest in Peace: Young Jee


The Art of Nature: Young Jee Returns

Inwood Hill Park Enigma – The Art of Young Jee


Young Jee - Inwood Hill Park

Budding superstar magician Zack Mirza took a trip Uptown to amaze the people of Washington Heights and the UC, as always, was there.

Check out: Uptown Magic: Zack Mirza in Washington Heights

The UC was also on hand for an intimate talk with Global Icon Alicia Keys at the 92Y.

Check out: #92Ytalks – Alicia Keys: Girl On Fire

Alicia Keys 92Y

Sonia Manzano stopped by the beloved Casa Azul Books in East Harlem and the UC’s Amaris Castillo wrote a great post on the visit and reading.

Check out: Sonia Manzano reminds East Harlem of the Young Lords Party with new book

Sonia Manzano - La Casa Azul Books

Le Chéile was the host venue for Jay Franco’s remarkable Faces of Hope photo exhibit.

Check out: Faces of Hope – The Recap

Faces of Hope

The Toast to Fort Tryon Park wine tasting and soiree was incredible. Paul Lomax and I had a blast as usual.

Check out: A Toast to Fort Tryon Park 2012 – The Recap

A Toast to Fort Tryon Park - Fort Tryon Park

We marked the anniversary of Gordon Parks 100th birthday with a post of some of his most amazing images.

Check out: Flashing Lights: Harlem As Seen By Gordon Parks


The Medieval Festival is one of the biggest events on the Uptown calendar and Wallace Flores was there to capture the magic.

Check out: The 2012 Medieval Festival In Pictures

2012 Medieval Festival

Journalist Caroline Chen covered this year’s Brides March to bring light to the important topic of domestic violence.

Check out: Brides March 2012

Voto Latino threw a voter registration Block Party on Dyckman.

Check out: The Voto Latino Dyckman Block Party In Pictures

Voto Latino Dyckman

Check out Art By Dj Boy’s awesome photo essay on the 2012 Little Red Lighthouse Festival.

Check out: The 2012 Little Red Lighthouse Festival In Pictures

Little Red Lighthouse


We also took a trip into the past with this must-see video, Historic Inwood: “Goodbye to Glocamorra” (1968).

Steven R. Hazlett was on the scene for the first annual Inwood Hill Park Harvest Festival.

Check out: The Inwood Hill Park Harvest Festival In Pictures

Inwood Hill Park Festival

In addition, we wished the GWB a Happy Birthday with a post dedicated to that Uptown landmark.

Check out: Happy Birthday To An Uptown Original

George Washington Bridge

The United Palace of Cultural Arts also marked it’s official launch in October with a really cool night of theater, art and culture.

Check out: United Palace of Cultural Arts is Open for Business

Related: The Uptown Renaissance is in full effect…

United Palace of Cultural Arts is Open for Business

We took a photographic look at Hurricane Sandy courtesy of our talented team of photographers. By the way, please read Octavio Blanco’s account of volunteering in Far Rockway to help those affected by the storm: The Far Rockaway Blues: Dispatches From the Frontlines Part I.

Check out: Hurricane Sandy: An Uptown Perspective

Related: Pics From the People: Hurricane Sandy – The Aftermath

Hurricane Sandy

The UC also witnessed Dark and company sell out their entire inventory of sweaters at the UPTNY Release Bash at Dyckman Bar in late October.

Check out: The UPTNY Release Bash @ Dyckman Bar – The Recap

UPTNY Release Bash @ Dyckman Bar

In October, the Uptown Collective had the honor of co-hosting with the Privileged Marketing Group, the listening party for Audubon.

Check out: The Audubon Listening Party – The Recap

Audubon Listening Party

We also took part in the No Ala Reforma Protest that took place at the Dominican Consulate in Times Square.

Check out: Signs of the Times: No Ala Reforma Protest NYC


Op-Led: The Dominican Spring

No Ala Reforma NYC Protest In Pictures

No Ala Reforma Protest - NYC

On Friday, October 19th, I attended the WHIN By Any Means Hip-Hop function at Empire Fashion Boutique put together by the one and only Tellie Floyd and his team and ably hosted by my man Mike Jones. WHIN By Any Means 2 that went down on December 7th was even bigger. WHIN By Any Means 2.5 will go down on January 15th at Agua Roja Lounge. Stay tuned for WHIN By Any Means 3 coming soon…

Check out: WHIN By Any Means @ Empire Fash – The Recap

WHIN By Any Means 2: A First Look

WHIN By Any Means 2: Another Look

WHIN By Any Means 1

WHIN By Any Means 3

WHIN By Any Means 2: Another Look

We were also there for the long-awaited grand opening of South Beach Restaurant & Lounge.

Check out: Open For Business: South Beach Restaurant & Lounge

South Beach Restaurant - Washington Heights

We ended the year right, with our Holiday Bash at La Marina. Shout out to everyone that came out, showed love and supported. Uptown and the Uptown Collective are just getting started.

UC Holiday Bash @ La Marina

Check out: The UC Holiday Bash @ La Marina – The Recap

Related: Ms Viva Voce On The Scene: UC Holiday Bash @ La Marina

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