It's something new this Christmas season decorated store windows — in Harlem. Businesses along one of Harlem's busiest streets are featuring elaborate window displays that showcase the community's rich history. NY1's Roger Clark reports.
Actors are bringing life to the festive windows at the Chocolat Restaurant on Frederick Douglass Boulevard — it is not a holiday scene — but instead a tribute to Harlem's musical heritage.
"You live in a community and it's great to know what that community stands for," said Choreographer Walter Rutledge.
And that's the message of Harlem Holiday Windows, eight businesses on Frederick Douglass Boulevard from 114th to 122nd Streets with window displays.
It's an effort supported by local civic groups and lead by Jaqueline Orange, who has produced tours of the neighborhood through ArtCrawl Harlem. The theme of the windows is the Harlem Renaissance, a culturally rich period here in the 1920s and 30s.
"So each window is depicting singing about that time and we. Whether it's music, writers, dancers, or prohibition," said Orange, founder and producer of Harlem Holiday Windows.
So instead of Santa or Rudolph, Harlem icons like Langston Hughes and Ella Fitzgerald are represented — along with quotes from musicians associated with Harlem. Fashion Institute of Technology students created the displays, part of an advanced store design class.
"All the windows were different," said Craig Berger, chairman of the Exhibition Design Program at FIT. "So all of them required a different strategy for design."
Participating merchants say it was a no-brainer.
Susannah Koteen owns Lido Restaurant and is co-president of the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance.
"It's a great art installation," Koteen said. "And it's free for families. And a great way to celebrate the holidays."
You can take the A train— to take tours of the Windows with these storytellers leading the way.
"Harlem is like a long poem," said actor Daniel Carlton. "It's its own poem. It's a blues song. It's a ragtime song. It's hip-hop. It's so many things."
Free tours of the displays are being held Wednesday and Saturday.
For more info, go to harlemholidaywindows.com.