As 125th Street clogs with franchises like Starbucks, Old Navy, and the Disney Storewhich make this sainted precinct feel like any other commercial strip on the East Coastthe heart of Harlem has drifted elsewhere. My favorite backward-leaning locale is the corner of 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, where the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture gazes disdainfully down on street action that could have been scripted from a Chester Himes novel. Newspapers are hawked from a wooden shipping flat as if they'd just fallen off a truck, while enterprising street vendors hustle everything from phone cards to pomade to hats of Niger River mud cloth. Bandaged patients emerge from Harlem Hospital rubbing their eyes in the bright winter sunlight, while the serpentine orange counter at Pan Pan is just beginning to feel the brunt of... More >>>
By photo: Michael Berman
Pan Pan may import its sausage from Georgia, but it controls its own means of production.