HNBA (Zoom) Holiday Party – Tuesday, December 8th!

We’ll all readily admit that it won’t be the same, but we’re going to try anyway. Now that Thanksgiving’s over, let’s usher in the holiday season with a Zoom HNBA Party on Tuesday, December 8th at 7:00 PM.

Subscribe to this blog: https://hnba.nyc/subscribe-to-the-hnba-blog/ to get the Zoom link (we’ll have it for you in the next week or so), and we’ll toast to the end of 2020 and (hopefully) light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.

Opioid Treatment Program Admissions – Increases and Decreases: 2017 – 2020

With OASAS FOIL data from 2017 and now 2020, we are able to see where admissions to Opioid Treatment Programs have increased or decreased.

On the live map (link below) you can see red increases and blue decreases. Hover over any of the dots to learn more. Note that the size of the dot indicates a larger program.

https://fordham.carto.com/u/shill18/builder/ea8098c8-c438-4e39-bf84-3ba2115c556c/embed

Mike, The Knife Sharpener

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving! Mike the knife sharpener is on his way to East 129th St between Madison & 5th, and should be here around 9:15-9:30. Jennifer will send out notice when he’s here, but wanted to give notice that he’s on his way!

Midnight Cowboy

The 1969 film Midnight Cowboy was celebrated for it’s gritty New York City street scenes. However, like every film of its day, some of the filming took place in a sound studio. And, in this case, in a sound studio on 2nd Avenue at East 127th Street.

In the film Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and Ratzo Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) were not only filmed in the sound studio in East Harlem, but they even faked going over the Queensboro Bridge by substituting the nearby Wills Avenue Bridge.

Note that the bridge pictured in the 1969 film was replaced, and so the merged image below shows a pre-replacement part of the span.

In the film, right after the tenement in which they are squatting is demolished, they walk to a cemetery in Queens to see Rizzo’s father’s grave. In the film it seems they go over the 59th Street Bridge, but if this picture represents the real bridge they went over, they went WAY out of their way. ( This bridge was near where they did interior filming: Filmways Studios at 246 East 127th Street, in East Harlem.)

For more on the film, see: https://www.popspotsnyc.com/iconic_new_york_city_film_locations/

This Thanksgiving, Mask-up!

Lincoln Houses, Wednesday morning.

Van Bramer House

The oldest colonial (pre-Revolutionary War) house that remained by the end of the 19th Century in Harlem was the Van Bramer house. Located near 7th Avenue and 117th Street. Unlike the Dyckmann House up in Inwood, this historic home was not saved.

James Riker, writing in 1904 notes:

Its gable end to the road, and fronting to the south. It was built not long before the Revolution, probably by Hendrick Van Bramer who lived there in 1774. Fifteen years ago we noted: The front and the end were laid up of hammered red or freestone. Query, why were not all of stone? The oldest portion measured 18 by 31 feet; for the frame on the east end was modern. Its exterior was tasteful. The eaves were the roof had a modern pitch; while the short beveled chimney tops, and the quaint dormer windows, with fiat roofs sloping downward toward the front had a decidedly antique air. The weather-beaten clapboards (on the rear and on the gable the eaves the same), were very thick, deep, and finished with large wrought nails. The window sills, etc., were of black walnut; the half sash in a very old fashion, heavy. The loft was accessed by a perpendicular the bare, vertical ladder.

Governor Cuomo Announces Parts of Harlem Under Yellow Zone COVID-19 Restrictions

The governor has noted a Covid “yellow zone” in Upper Manhattan including zip codes 10031, 10032, and 10033.

* No gatherings indoors/outdoors over 25

* Dining indoors/outdoors no more than 4 per table

* Houses of worship at 50% capacity

A Historical Perspective on Redlining

The Where We Live NYC report has a fantastic explanation on the history and impact of redlining:

One of the most pernicious tools in promoting segregation was the construction of explicitly
segregated housing developments, many of which were owned or financed by the city, state, or
federal government. This practice began in 1928, when the Thomas Garden Apartments opened
near the Grand Concourse in the Bronx for White families and the Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Apartments opened in Harlem for Black families. It continued through the 1930s, when
New York City experienced several waves of immigration in the 20th century, originally
from Europe and eventually the rest of the world. The arrival of large numbers of Italians
and Eastern European Jews in the early 20th century led Congress to pass discriminatory
laws to limit the growth of those populations and others. Immigration patterns changed
dramatically after World War II, however, with the arrival of over 600,000 Puerto Ricans
in the 1940s and 1950s. By 1970, Puerto Ricans accounted for over 10 percent of the city’s
total population. The passing of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965, which abolished the use of
immigration quotas based on national origin, created more opportunities for immigrants
from all over the world, including the Caribbean and Latin America, East and South Asia,
the Middle East, and Africa. These cycles of immigration have contributed to the formation
of the city’s many ethnic enclaves, which formed as networks of support and community
and as a form of protection against the discrimination and violence many immigrants
experienced upon their arrival to New York City. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) opened the Harlem River Houses for black households and the Williamsburg Houses for White households in 1937 and 1938, respectively.

The most significant examples were two enormous government-supported housing
developments built by the Metropolitan Life Company exclusively for White families:
Parkchester in the central Bronx, which included 12,273 apartments for 42,000 people,
and Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, which included 8,775 apartments for 27,000 people.

Even though protesters denounced the City for providing land and tax breaks to these
projects and sued MetLife over its exclusionary policy, Frederick Ecker, the company’s
president, stuck to his position that “Negroes and whites don’t mix.” In an attempt to
appease its critics, MetLife also developed the Riverton Houses, a 1,200-unit development in Harlem that, while nominally open to all races, attracted mostly Black residents.
The People’s Voice, a weekly newspaper based in Harlem, predicted that these projects
were “crystallizing patterns of segregation and condemning thousands of Negroes to a
secondary citizenship status for generations to come.”

At the same time, federal housing policy also explicitly subordinated people of color, most
importantly through a mortgage-lending process that came to be known as “redlining.”
Beginning in 1933, the federal agency responsible for refinancing mortgages—the Home
Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC)—created “Residential Security Maps,” which labeled
neighborhoods as

“A (Best),”

“B (Still Desirable),”

“C (Definitely Declining),”

“D (Hazardous),”

ostensibly to judge the riskiness of issuing mortgages in each type of neighborhood. Each neighborhood was also color-coded: “A” was green; “B” was blue; “C” was
yellow; and “D” was red.

The image above shows an example of a HOLC map for Upper Manhattan.
The systematic use of these maps by the federal government and local banks had
substantial, disastrous, and long-lasting impacts on racial inequality. Neighborhoods
where HOLC found a sizeable presence of “undesirable” residents—which in New York
City included immigrants from Southern Europe, “Communistic” Jews, and others—
were deemed ineligible sites for federally-insured mortgages. HOLC was particularly
concerned about the presence of Black New Yorkers; any neighborhood in which Black
New Yorkers were more than 5% of the population was labeled “C (Definitely Declining)”
or “D (Hazardous),” and it was all-but-guaranteed that a prospective homebuyer could
not receive a mortgage in such a neighbohood.

The Mortgage Conference of Greater New York even commissioned a block-by-block survey
of New York City to show where “Negroes and Spanish-speaking persons resided,” though
blocks that housed Black and Hispanic building superintendents were exempted. The Mortgage
Conference directed its 38 members to refrain from issuing mortgages to any properties on
such blocks, depriving neighborhoods with Black and Hispanic residents of access to
capital and encouraging White residents to move to segregated neighborhoods or suburbs
where loans were available.

Mortgages were available in suburban developments on Long Island and in
Westchester because the vast majority of these developments were open only to White
residents. The most famous development—Levittown, New York—opened to 17,500 veterans and their families immediately following World War II under the federal government’s condition that only White
residents would live there. Levittown residents also became homeowners thanks to the G.I. Bill, which offered low-interest loans and required no down payments. Almost all people of color were excluded from this crucial, life-changing opportunity to build equity in their homes and pass down wealth
to future generations. During the immediate post-war period, per capita mortgage lending in Nassau County, New York, where Levittown and many other Whites-only developments were located, was eleven times greater than lending in Brooklyn and 60 times greater than lending in the Bronx.

Segregated suburban developments, which expanded with significant support from government,
also helped determine who remained in or moved to New York City. Hundreds of thousands of
New Yorkers, predominantly people of color, were forcibly displaced from their homes by the
construction of taxpayer-funded highways, which served the segregated suburbs. Subsidized
mortgages and segregated living patterns also drew a sizeable portion of the city’s middle-class
tax base to the suburbs; in the 1950s alone, the suburban region’s population increased by
almost 2.2 million people, while the city’s population decreased by 109,973 people—the first
decennial decline in the city’s history.

The expansion of segregated suburban developments also pushed government officials to take
drastic steps to alter some of the city’s central neighborhoods through massive redevelopment
projects, which often consisted of displacing people of color from their homes and building more
expensive housing in their place. In turn, people of color were directed to even more segregated
neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan and Central Brooklyn.

The combined influence of redlining, segregated housing developments, and rampant
discrimination in the employment and education fields concentrated low-income people of
color in small geographic areas and created a “new form of urban poverty.” Poor living
conditions in these neighborhoods—often referred to as ghettos—also stigmatized people of
color in the eyes of many White residents, who feared that their neighborhoods and schools
would become unstable if integration occurred. Many New Yorkers responded to these forms of
racism, economic oppression, and subjugation with grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy,
and New York City became a leader in innovative, civil rights lawmaking in the 1950s.

Complain to the DOT

If you notice something on a road, sidewalk or bridge that isn’t right, you can submit a complaint to the Department of Transportation on any of these subjects:

Simply go to:

https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/contact/contact-form.shtml

and fill out the form.

I contacted them recently about a lack of a pedestrian ramp on the Madison Avenue Bridge, and they got back to me the next day with the promise that they’d send a crew out to investigate within 45 days.

Speedy? No. But as we always say, they can’t read our minds, so unless we complain, and tell them what’s not working or acceptable in our community, they’ll just assume all’s well. Don’t accept. Demand better. Demand action.

Mike, The Knife Sharpener

OriginalPhoto-573335505.983741.JPG

Mike is planning to return to our neighborhood this Wednesday. We’ll put out details when we know more.

Great prices, great sharpening, just in time for the holidays (even though we have much smaller celebrations this year, it is still great to have sharp knives for cooking!)

The Dark Tower

A’Lelia Walker’s home at 108 West 136th Street (from 1885-1931) – one of the key cultural nodes of the Harlem Renaissance – was known as “The Dark Tower”. This residence became famous for the lavish salons which she hosted – drawing in writers, musicians, and artists during the 1920s. It was named after a sonnet by the poet Countee Cullen:

From the Dark Tower

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made to eternally weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

 A’Lelia Walker was the only child of Madam C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur and hair care industry pioneer who is recognized as America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Her Irvington, New York, home, Villa Lewaro, is a National Treasure of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

With her inheritance, A’Lelia purchased these two townhouses on West 136th Street and combined them into one residence with a new façade:

Cultural soirees for the Harlem and Greenwich Village “glitterati,” white and black, serving caviar and bootleg champagne and providing entertainment by queer performers and others like Alberta Hunter, Jimmy Daniels, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Muriel Draper, Nora Holt, Witter Bynner, Andy Razaf, Taylor Gordon, Carl Van Vechten, Clarence Darrow, James Weldon Johnson and many others attended and reveled in the Dark Tower’s glamour.

Langston Hughes later wrote that A’Lelia’s parties “were as crowded as the New York subway at the rush hour.”

In October 1927, the Dark Tower—envisioned as a private membership club—officially opened in a room within the Walker Studio, which had now expanded to the second and third floors of the townhouse.

One year after opening, in October 1928, the Dark Tower closed. Walker had begun charging for food and refreshments, which was a hard adjustment for many to make. She continued to rent the townhouse out for events, and she continued her arts patronage and philanthropic endeavors. But in 1929, the market crashed. Fewer parties were thrown during the Depression.

Walker died in 1931. After that point, the townhouse was rented out to the City of New York, which used the space for a health clinic. Then in 1941, the townhouse was demolished. In its place, the New York Public Library built what would become its Countee Cullen Branch.

For more check out the fantastic Code Switch Podcast.

Opioid Treatment Deserts

With new data from a recent FOIL request that was submitted to the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) we wanted to map the inverse of what people typically map – the absence of something. In particular, we were interested in learning which Community Districts in New York don’t have any OASAS licensed Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs). The resulting map (below) shows (in red) the communities in New York that have no OTPs and whose residents who are suffering from addiction to opioids have to travel to communities like ours, for treatment.

To explore the map yourself, see: https://fordham.carto.com/u/shill18/builder/8202e3cd-d7ca-4fc5-9c79-22d883c3b51d/embed

Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway

Riverside North

The west side walking, jogging, and cycling path – north of 120th Street – is hopefully going to get some more love. The Riverside North Park Initiative has managed to accomplish (over the past year):

Added professional staff

Worked alongside a neighborhood volunteer user group to secure funding for the City to formalize the 142nd Street Dog Run

Partnered with the West Harlem Development Corporation and engaged young people from Community District 9 in urban park management as part of our Teen Corps Program

Successfully advocated for the City to invest $4.1 million in repaving funds, which will include the areas around 148th Street

Delivered public programs to West Harlem Piers Park

Hosted public programming at 148th Street waterfront, the 172nd Street waterfront, and the Little Red Lighthouse at 181st Street

Partnered with Natural Areas Conservancy to conduct assessments and develop management plans for the forested areas at 146th–151st Streets, and around 181st Street

Began managing the concession to teach tennis at the 172nd Street courts, and revenues generated will be invested back into the area

Provided sustained care and support to the volunteer-lead Riverside Valley Community Garden (“Jenny’s Garden”)

Improved the Park entrances at 120th, 125th, 138th, 148th, and 151st Streets

And for 2021 and beyond they hope to:

Increase professional gardening staff north of 120th Street

Further improve the park entrances at 148th, 151st, and 158th Street

Repair and ongoing maintenance of 148th Street baseball fields

Concession at 151st Street entrance

Complete renovation and add comfort station at 10 Mile River Playground at 148th Street

158th Street basketball court resurfacing and solution for drainage issues

Ongoing forest restoration and care in the woodlands at 146th–151st Streets, and 181st Streets

Add comfort station at Discovery Playground

Deliver adult exercise equipment, additional picnic tables, and a bicycle education center

Resurface tennis courts at 172nd Street

Repair or replace broken benches on Riverside Drive

Complete a world class dog run at 142nd Street

Replace the fence and repair dangerous paving conditions from 120th Street to 125th Street

Address dangerous bicycle/pedestrian conflicts

Repair drainage infrastructure on Riverside Drive at 138th Street

Deliver 3 years of new free public programming to North Park

DSNY Manhattan Community Coordinator

Marissa Yanni – DSNY’s Manhattan Community Affairs Liaison – appeared at this week’s 25th Precinct Community Council meeting and offered that we could contact her directly with any questions or to report any sanitation issues in East Harlem and Harlem. Marissa’s contact information is:

myanni@dsny.nyc

After the mayor’s walkabout in East Harlem, agencies like DSNY are (for the moment) focused on our community and would like you to identify areas of concern.

The Last King of France, Lived in Exile, in Harlem

Who knew?

Louis Philippe I was the last King of France – reigning from 1830 to 1848. Before 1848, he arrived and lived in Harlem as an exile.

Louis Philippe lived in the United States for four years, staying in, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1815, he moved into the historic Claremont Inn “one of the noble houses on the Island” in Harlem.

Claremont Inn was situated on the bluff above Manhattanville, overlooking what is now 125th Street (note the ferry docks on the Hudson that once took travelers to Fort Lee).

You can see it, and Grants Tomb (built much later, of course) here:

For more images of the Claremont Inn, see:

https://collections.mcny.org/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UP1GMTV1ABT

For more on Louis Phillippe, see:

https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com/louis-philippe-i-the-last-king-of-france-exiled-in-harlem-ny/

Crime Alert

On Wednesday, Captain Henning of the 25th Precinct went over the CompStat data and noted that there is an significant increase in property theft (from homes, cars, and work sites) between 125th and 135th streets. Please be extra vigilant and watch belongings, keep tempting items and packages out of sight.

For those car owners, it was also jaw-dropping to hear that he (the commanding officer) personally arrested a man this past month engaged in a car break-in. This individual had an arrest record of OVER 100 car break-ins. He was not held.

HRD

Untapped New York collected some wonderful images of the Harlem River Drive. Note in the first two images, the High Bridge (the bridge which brings Croton water into NYC) consists solely of masonry arches (your can see the Croton High Bridge tower on the right-hand side, above a white building):

Construction of the Harlem River Speedway began in 1894 with the carving of the bluffs overlooking the river. After its opening in 1896, it quickly became a tourist attraction where people could watch horse races on the track as well as boat races on the river. The track was as wide as one-hundred feet in some areas, allowing for several carriages to compete at once. The natural beauty of the surrounding scenery attracted spectators from all social classes. Thousands from around the country visited to watch planned parades and competitions, and rich sportsmen were satisfied with their exclusive speedway, using it heavily to train and display their horses. 

To read more about the history of the Harlem River Drive, see:

https://untappedcities.com/2020/10/30/harlem-river-drive-speedway-horse-race/

First Lady Michelle Obama Reflects on The 2020 and 2016 Elections

“This week, I’ve been reflecting a lot on where I was four years ago. Hillary Clinton had just been dealt a tough loss by a far closer margin than the one we’ve seen this year. I was hurt and disappointed—but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won. The American people had spoken. And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do. So my husband and I instructed our staffs to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power—one of the hallmarks of American democracy. We invited the folks from the president-elect’s team into our offices and prepared detailed memos for them, offering what we’d learned over the past eight years.

I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me. Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside. So I welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and talked with her about my experience, answering every question she had—from the heightened scrutiny that comes with being First Lady to what it’s like to raise kids in the White House.

I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do—because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego. Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently—the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger. This isn’t a game. So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.”

Drug Testing of Newborns and Parents

NEW YORK CITY COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATIONS INTO THREE MAJOR PRIVATE HOSPITAL SYSTEMS’ PRACTICES OF DRUG TESTING NEWBORNS AND PARENTS
The investigation seeks to determine whether the hospitals’ policies and practices target Black
and Latinx parents and infants
NEW YORK—Following concerns from advocacy groups regarding drug testing practices that
may disproportionately target Black and Latinx parents and infants, the New York City
Commission on Human Rights announces investigations into Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New
York Presbyterian hospitals, which, collectively, have facilities in the Bronx, Manhattan,
Brooklyn, and Queens. The investigations examine the hospitals’ policies and practices
regarding drug testing of pregnant people and newborns to assess whether those policies and
practices demonstrate discriminatory racial bias against Black and Latinx families. The
Commission-initiated investigation seeks to root out and end any such discriminatory practices.

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/press-releases/Hospitals_Press_Release_11-16-2020.pdf