Word New York

Image by Geoffrey Dunbar

Word – Bookstore in Sugar Hill, Harlem

A bookstore/library specializing in African-American and Black culture with an emphasis on the arts and politics; upstairs, the Jumel Terrace Bed and Breakfast Inn, neither of which advertises except via its informative website. It’s hard to pin down exactly what this place is. I think that’s by design, making it all the more attractive.

It’s across the street from the Jumel mansion and Sylvan Terrace — a row of 1882 wood frame houses arranged along the cobblestone former-driveway to the mansion — and around the corner from 555 Edgecombe, home of Marjorie Elliot, and former home to Joe Louis, Paul Robeson, Count Basie and others.

This fascinating, almost puzzling ‘business’ I discovered one day just before attending a Marjorie Elliot Jazz Parlour event. Susan and I peered in the window and inside was Kurt Thometz, the proprietor and host of the bookstore which is actually part of his private library. One hesitates to buy a book, out of fear of reducing the quality of his collection. We spent a wonderful 45 minutes chatting and sharing ideas with Mr Thometz that afternoon talking mostly of the black cultural scene and its evolution.

Thometz is a writer, producer, hotelier, host, raconteur, perhaps a boulevardier as well as a provocateur. He is known within literary circles.

One almost wishes to have brought along a thermos of Pimms Cup (or old scotch), to stay refreshed while looking around, and while talking.

By the way, this long established Dominican neighborhood is sprinkled with loads of restaurants. Good hunting!

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Details about this spot



426 West 160th Street, New York

Telephone number


Opening Times

Appointment, Invitation or Serendipity


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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)