Sundial. Not.

If you’ve ever been headed northbound on Madison Avenue and at 118th Street noticed the Subway and the curious ‘sculpture’ on the wall next to the restaurant, you may have been puzzled as to what’s going on with what looks like a sundial.

You’re right to be confused because something clearly was messed up between the designer and the installer. The sundial is upside down:

The photo (above) was taken around 8 in the morning, yet seems to be indicating that it’s 9 pm at night.

What has happened is the gnomon has been mounted upside down, and as a consequence, the numbers and their position make no sense.

Take a look at the image below, with a gnomon correctly aligned on a downward 45 degree slope:

If you’d like to try making one yourself, here’s a great place to start:

The Harlem Cultural Festival

The Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969’s original poster, highlighting the acts and activities

Extreme Couponing

25th Precinct Commanding Officer Henning Is Leaving

Yesterday it was announced that the commanding officer of the 25th Precinct (northern East Harlem) is leaving:

Hello all,

It looks like the winds of change have blown through the 25 Precinct. I found out last night I will be transferred as of tomorrow. I will be moving on, and you’ll have a new commanding officer shortly. It will be physically impossible to personally thank each and every one of you.  For those I have not talked with, I would just like to say thank you for your hard work, commitment, and passion in helping us serve the upper east harlem community.

In my tenure here, we certainly have had to deal with quite tumultuous times. From the protests and demonstrations, right into an unprecedented global wide epidemic that our society has never seen before that had an untold amount of stress on both our professional and personal lives. We had the first patrol related covid fatality in the passing of PO Eric Murray. Then we had to experience one of our own getting shot by a stray bullet on new year’s day of 2022.  While these times certainly were not easy, through it all, with your help in bridging the gap between police and community, we have persevered.

It has been an honor and pleasure being the commanding officer of the 25 pct. What made it an honor and pleasure wasn’t the position, rank, or title.  It was the privilege of working with you, and for you. There were some good times and certainly some tough times, but through it all, we prevailed.  I am confident the individual stepping in my shoes will do an outstanding job and I will do everything possible to ease the transition.

Thank you for all you do for upper east harlem, and thank you for forging and strengthening our relationships.

I recently saw this quote somewhere, and it resonated with me profoundly.

“There are four things in life you can never get back…a word after it is said…trust after it is lost…time after it’s gone…and an opportunity after it’s missed”

There is nothing more valuable in life than relationships and experiences, and you have all been a fundamental part of mine for the past three years.

Thank you for everything


Deputy Inspector Christopher Henning

Commanding Officer, 25th Precinct

120 East 119th street, NY NY 10035

(O) 212-860-6549

(M) 917-846-7194

Burglary On West 126th Street

An HNBA member sent this:

This is a video of my friend’s home being broken into today in broad daylight She lives on West 126th across the street from the women’s shelter.  Please pass this info to members of our neighborhood association.  
Thanks and be careful!

Thomas Sankara in Harlem

The 5th President of Burkina Faso -Thomas Sankara (1949-1987) – visited Harlem in 1984 to give an impassioned speech asking for solidarity between Africans and the African diaspora.

Sankara spoke at Harriet Tubman Elementary School (P.S. 154) in Harlem, New York City, after the Reagan Administration denied President Sankara an official state visit to the White House – likely the result of Sankara’s socialist and Pan-African rhetoric. Sankara, who was in New York City to speak at the United Nations at the time, received word of the Reagan Administrations’ decision and headed uptown to Harlem.

President Sankara’s most inflammatory catchphrase was: “For the African Revolutionary, My White House is in Black Harlem!”

Note that the president also unhooked his belt and raised the belt and his pistol to emphasize his belief in direct revolution.

President Sankara was overthrown and killed in a coup three years later.

Amsterdam News Reports on the Plight of the small (Black) Landlord

Amsterdam News reports on how Black landlords are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat in New York City.

Small homeowners — multi-generational, multi-family, often Black and brown homeowners – are increasingly leaving New York, or unable to continue as landlords in many of New York City’s residential and renter neighborhoods. 

Black and minority home and property owners have been left at the mercy of the financial crisis in the early 2000s, and the COVID-19 pandemic only furthered housing insecurity.

“We’ll never own property at the rate we owned. Never again,” said Community Activist Paul Toomer Muhammad. “This is the foolishness.” Muhammad has been a property owner in East New York in Brooklyn for almost 20 years. He had two properties. His neighborhood is 55.4% Black and 34.9% Hispanic.
Muhammad blames “aggressive” emergency pandemic policies like the city’s eviction moratorium and the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)/Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP) for setting back small landlords in one- to four-unit homes because they were not distinguished enough from large commercial buildings or buildings with more than six rent-controlled units, and therefore not protected. 

Some Black landlords have joined the lawsuit five small landlords filed against State Attorney General Letitia James, claiming that the COVID Foreclosure Prevention Act hurt their interests.

“I’m in the same court system where you can stall a tenant in my house for a year and a half, but I still have to pay mortgage, water bill, tax, heat, electricity,” said Muhammad. “A foreclosure is an eviction to the landlord and the tenant.”

To read more, see:

NYC is Greener Than Its Suburbs

(but you knew that)

Borough President Mark Levine highlighted an article in the NY Times that mapped energy usage (carbon footprint) on a district-by-district basis and showed the stark contrast between dense urban areas with many public transit options and car-centric suburbs:

East Harlem Featured in War Era Propaganda Film

An amazing film from 1945 promoting the democratic nature of mid-century public education. Students are seen addressing their ‘comrades’, and protest and activism is promoted. The result of the students’ work is shown to be the gleaming new projects in East Harlem.

The film is short, but you can jump to 18:26 to begin to see East Harlem students and street scenes. There are views of East Harlem from the FDR Drive, from above the Park Avenue MTA viaduct, and much more. Note the virtual absence of women, and the focus on the Italian East Harlem community.

The film was produced by the U.S. Office of War information, overseas branch. It is no. 8 in the American scene series. An Italian-language version accompanies the English.

Caribbean Club

The Caribbean Club sounds (and looks) great at this time of the year. This photo (for sale on Ebay) was taken in June 1945.

Note the wrap-around balcony, and the dance barriers to keep dancers and diners from bumping into one another too much.

The location near 139/ACP is now given over to Harlem Discount, below an apartment building.

Queenie: Godmother of Harlem

A new graphic novel is out on Madame Stephanie St. Clair, a Harlem renaissance era numbers queen.

In stark black and white, the novel traces the rise and fall of Harlem’s most notorious Godmother.

St. Clair was an anomaly in a business clearly dominated by men, but she successfully carved out a position of power. An immigrant from Guadeloupe, in the West Indies, St. Clair was brilliant and nimble, outsmarting the many systems that made her success so implausible. She continuously called out the corrupt police and government and advocated for Harlem’s Black community. 

$7,500 Comic Book (with a book thrown in)

Ebay has a classic comic book with one of the most memorable illustrations of vice and its threat to the youth of Harlem on sale for $7,500, complete with an accompanying book.

Harlem of the South

Overtown, Miami:

Strange Victory

In 1948, Leo Hurwitz released a stunningly powerful film that examined the promises made to Black Americans and American servicemen in particular and contrasted that with their experience in this country after helping to secure victory over Japan and Nazi Germany.

The film, which is considered one of the best documentaries of the 20th century, is powerful, poignant, and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Strange Victory (1948)

Strange Victory is the first significant anti-racist U.S. documentary film. With World War II over and Frontier Films dissolved, Leo Hurwitz and Barney Rosset (soon to form Grove Press) teamed up as Target Films to create this eloquent and powerful statement. It was to be their only collaboration. Amidst the high hopes of the post-World War II economic and baby boom, it represented a provocative questioning of the discrepancies between the ideals of the allied victory and the lingering aspects of fascism in U.S. society. In his trademark style, Hurwitz juxtaposes archival scenes of the war’s destruction with newly shot sequences, both actuality and reenacted. It asks the question, “Why are the ideas of loser still alive in the land of the winner?”

Honor The Past

As seen in Harlem (West 117th Street)

The Negro Soldier

Yesterday’s post on a Nazi critique of America’s racial and economic reality suggested that the film The Negro Soldier – produced as WWII American propaganda is worth a watch:

This 1944 documentary, directed by Stuart Heisler and produced by Frank Capra was a part of the United States Army’s First Motion Picture Unit for The Department of War. The film was produced to encourage enthusiasm for the World War II Allied effort while making the case for Black enlistment and participation at a time when the armed forces were still officially segregated.

Council Member Jordan Explains Why Saying No To 458 Units of Affordable Housing Is A Good Thing For Harlem

DSNY Says No

At our January HNBA meeting, the issue of increased street trash on our streets was raised. That week, we reached out to DSNY’s Community Affairs Liason, and asked if a DSNY representative could attend our March HNBA meeting. No answer came.

Today we sent a 2nd email, and received this message back:

Good afternoon,

I apologize for the delay.

Unfortunately, DSNY will be unable to attend your meeting.

Please send me the businesses and locations to flag for enforcement and I will do so.

Thank you

Marissa Yanni 

Community Affairs Liaison

Bureau of Community Affairs

NYC Department of Sanitation

Office: 646-885-4575

Mobile: 646-841-4250
[email protected]

Supportive Housing Coming

A new 99-person supportive housing building is slated to be built on the parking lot next to the 25th Precinct. Workers were seen cleaning the asphalt and cars were banned from the parking lot:

Harlem and The Bronx

This image from the 1930’s from a high vantage point (likely from the towering 555 Edgecombe Avenue), shows Harlem in the foreground and The Bronx in the background.

What is now Jackie Robinson Park is immediately below (in the foreground) and you can see the distinctive kiosk shown in another 1930’s photo and from Google Streetview:

Note how the 1930s streetscape north of 152nd Street (up to 153rd Street) is fully intact. It also appears as if the vacant lot on the south-east corner of the block has been vacant for almost 100 years.

Harlem’s Poet Laureate

CBS has the story from Governor Hochul’s inauguration on how a 9-year-old from Harlem came to be her poet laureate:

“I was outside the Apollo Theater, it was Amateur Night,” Hochul recalled at the beginning of her speech Sunday. “And there’s a long line around the block, and I saw this young man standing there. I said, ‘You’re going in to watch somebody?’ He goes, ‘No, I’m a poet. I’m going to go recite.'”
“I was excited,” Hern remembered feeling. “Yeah, because at the Apollo, I just wanted to take a picture with her. And then she asked me, what do I do? And I said, I draw. I also write poems.”
Hern did not throw away his shot, performing his way straight to the top.
“I figured he’d whip out a piece of paper and read it to me,” Hochul continued. “He had memorized it … I stood there on the spot and I said, ‘If I win this election, you are my Poet Laureate and I want you here.'”