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ViVa Living: Models and 6-Inch Wounds

By this point, we're almost as over West Harlem's hot new microneighborhood ViVa as we are Williamsburg. But since last week's outbreak of ViVa mania on Curbed, we've gotten a few more interesting emails about the neighborhood from readers that we'd be remiss not to share.

Two former residents write about living on 135th Street and Riverside, one recalling it fondly ("early in the mornings I've also witnessed models being photographed against the weathered brick facade"), the other less so ("my friend was viciously stabbed—a nice, deep 6-inch long wound—in her thigh while coming home late from a bar one night. Case - unsolved"). Taste the full ViVa residential experience, after the jump.

Reader email number one:

God, how I miss 135th Street.

I used to live on 135th and Riverside... and life was great. HUGE apartment, and I'm talking 250 SF kitchen and perhaps a 175 SF bath... living and two modest-sized bedrooms... great closets... cross ventilation... relatively quiet... great super... Great neighbors... Near Fairway... FANTASTIC parking because there's that stretch of the viaduct (Riverside Drive) so there's always a space.

So 701 West 135th Street... Is really a misleading address. It's got a faded "Motel" sign painted on the side, and it was a gutted mess the last time I looked, but I have an affinity for gritty NYC. the building is across the street from a huge retaining wall (akin to the one that collapsed a few months ago on the Henry Hudson at about 181st) separating it from 135th, and the rest of the grid, elevated above. It's only accessible to 135th by way of a once-beautiful monumental granite staircase leading from Riverside Drive down to what is indeed a short stretch of 12th Ave. Said staircase was and I'm sure still is poorly maintained by the Parks Department... Go figure, it's in Harlem... But it was the best route for anyone to get to Fairway who lived in that Nabe. It may be true that it's such a no-man's land that there are no thieves, but I can verify that when I've taken that staircase, I've seen some shady deals going down including creepy sex acts and what were surely drug deals from the nervous looks I got by the jumpy folk hanging out on the stairs. Early in the mornings I've also witnessed models being photographed against the weathered brick facade... 'cos it's an isolated area.

So that's my take on the area that building's in... being near the expressway would take some serious soundproof engineering for any retrofit... And what if there are headlights at night shining right into the windows?

I'm in the West Village now... and believe me, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I do miss ViVa.

Reader email number two:the viva revival is such a joke. 4 friends of mine were living on west 135th and riverside and the neighborhood could not be more ghetto. the mariachi blares every night, all night, all year. not to mention my friend was viciously stabbed (a nice, deep 6-inch long wound) in her thigh while coming home late from a bar one night (case - unsolved).

and that area under the bridge is hardly "deserted:" plenty of crackheads and bums hang out on the steps (that reek of piss and are covered with broken glass) from riverside down to 12th ave and there are homeless people living under the bridge.

just because dinosaur bbq opened up there (probably the only place in manhattan where they'd allow the permit for a BBQ smoker) and the towncars swooped in means nothing. sure, fairway's there, but they're perched on the edge of the river and the parking lot is full of volvos. you don't see anyone from the low-income housing right up the block shopping there.

and that building for commercial rental is also a joke. the sign that supports the billboard above it goes to the ground via a huge hole in that building's roofViVa Update: #1 Worst Commercial Location in the City [Curbed]