On the Harlem Watch: Why Doesn’t the Kalahari Mention Its Awesome Next Door Neighbor, The Head Shop?


In which The Gay Recluse poses a question to a condominium development in Harlem.

Yesterday Curbed posted an update (via Joe Schumacher) on the Kalahari, a controversial — aesthetically speaking — condominium development on 116th Street in Central Harlem that appears to be nearing completion. We recently observed the Kalahari on a field trip to the area, and although we too were underwhelmed by the “tribal” motif on the facade and the somewhat clunky design of the building/s as a whole, we were — more than anything — pretty freakin’ stoked by the presence of a head shop right next door! Oddly, however, this most excellent retail opportunity is not mentioned on the official Kalahari web site, although they talk a lot about the surrounding neighborhood in terms of “community” and provide prospective buyers with a list of close to 30 shops all considered “points of interest.”

What gives, Kalahari? The Head Shop is literally just steps away! Conspiracy or oversight? We provide the evidence below: you be the judge!

Photo 1: The Kalahari from Fifth Avenue. It’s actually past the arch, about halfway down the block.

Photo 2: The Kalahari front view (this photo is from Joe Schumacher’s Neighborhood Watch). Note the storefronts to the right: could one of them be a head shop?

Photo 3: The Head Shop! Why doesn’t the Kalahari mention this outstanding retailer on its site?

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6 Responses to “On the Harlem Watch: Why Doesn’t the Kalahari Mention Its Awesome Next Door Neighbor, The Head Shop?”

  1. 1 Sarah

    You guys are unbelievable!! Really, is this all you have to write about? Who cares about a head shop? Are you upset because you can’t afford to live there or didn’t win the lottery? Or is it simply a racial thing? If you go in the sales office (I have) you will actully see some beautiful plans for the units. There are a lot more important things you can write about.

  2. Thanks for the lovely note, Sarah. Just to clarify — in case it wasn’t obvious from the fifty other posts we’ve written IN FAVOR of uptown gentrification — we love the Kalahari! In fact, we’re officially jealous of any big luxury condominiums like this, given that there are exactly zero such developments in Washington Heights, where we live. That said, we think it’s hilarious that there’s a “head shop” right next door to the Kalahari for two reasons: 1) “head shops” are funny in almost any context, even if they sell “ladies hats, etc.” instead of stoner gear, and 2) it’s even funnier when you contrast it with the phony “marketese” that — as with 98 percent of luxury condominiums, wherever they are — permeates the official Kalahari site. How this is “racial” is not clear to us, but we encourage you to enlighten us! As for “more important things” to write about, please feel free to send suggestions. In fact, we promise to write about ANY TOPIC you suggest. Regards, TGR

  3. 3 gay-black-guy-n-Harlem

    I like the contrast between the Kalahari and the Head Shop. It speaks to what gives Harlem its on unique “sense of place” – in other words it’s what makes Harlem “Harlem.” The same can be said for its Afro-inspired facade patterns and of course its very name. Manhattan is already satuated with bland neighborhoods – the Upper East and West Sides to name a few. Harlem is one of the island’s remaining multicultural bohemian spaces. I hope DCP’s new zoning proposals for 125th Street wont diminish the community’s unique style.


  4. Hey GBGnH, thanks for the note. I agree that the The Head Shop is way cool in an “old New York” kind of way, and the contrast with the Kalahari is interesting; and there’s no reason why there can’t be room for both going forward. (Though based on the web site alone, I would say that the Kalahari wants to present itself as very much in league with the bland-but-upscale offerings of their downtown luxury counterparts.) As for the DCP plan, my sense is that if — on a 1 to 10 scale — the UWS and UES are 10s (overgentrified) and most of uptown is like a 1-3 (undergentrified), it would be nice to end up with a 4-6; whether the city can ever operate with that kind of nuance is open to question, as are the market forces that may make all of these issues moot to some degree. I personally live in a 1-2 level neighborhood, so look forward to some new development.

  5. 5 Veda Islely

    You stupid asses! The Head Shop is an African Owned store THAT SELLS HATS! IT IS LOCATED IN THE AFRICAN MARKET.

  6. Thanks, Veda — we were just passing through so don’t really know wtf we’re talking about unless it’s in Wahi. But — ha ha — it’s still awesome that it’s called the Head Shop and that’s it’s not listed on the pretentious Kalahari site.

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