We’ll all readily admit that it won’t be the same, but we’re going to try anyway. Now that the turkey leftovers are gone, 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 the end of 2020 and (hopefully) light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.
If you’re curious about the issue of redlining, join The Washington and Chicago Map Societies on December 3, 2020, 7:00 pm when they present Linda Gartz in a Zoom discussion: “How Federal Government Redlining Maps Segregated America.”
She will discuss her award-winning book, “Redlined,” and her discovery of the redlining maps used by the federal government to exclude African-Americans from the middle-class dream of home ownership. Inspired by a trove of long-hidden family letters, diaries, photos, spanning the 20th Century, “Redlined” interweaves a riveting family story with the history of redlining. Linda will display digitized versions of original redlining maps, share photos, read short excerpts from “Redlined,” and speak about the lasting impact of redlining maps that segregated America. RSVP John Docktor at email@example.com to receive the meeting ID and passcode.
Given the recent NY Times Article on how Perdue Pharma internally strategized ways to profit through addicting clients to their OxyCodone drug, it is worth looking at the data for Manhattan that came out of the ‘discovery’ on the recent lawsuit.
Last year I assembled the data for Manhattan (or New York County – the smallest geography that the data breaks down by is by county) and wanted to include it here to give you a sense of how OxyCodone and Methadone parallel one another and are the most commonly prescribed drugs on our island.
NY Times: Paying Pharmacy Companies Rebates for OxyContin Overdoses
When Purdue Pharma agreed last month to plead guilty to criminal charges involving OxyContin, the Justice Department noted the role an unidentified consulting company had played in driving sales of the addictive painkiller even as public outrage grew over widespread overdoses.
Documents released last week in a federal bankruptcy court in New York show that the adviser was McKinsey & Company, the world’s most prestigious consulting firm. The 160 pages include emails and slides revealing new details about McKinsey’s advice to the Sackler family, Purdue’s billionaire owners, and the firm’s now notorious plan to “turbocharge” OxyContin sales at a time when opioid abuse had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.
In a 2017 presentation, according to the records, which were filed in court on behalf of multiple state attorneys general, McKinsey laid out several options to shore up sales. One was to give Purdue’s distributors a rebate for every OxyContin overdose attributable to pills they sold.
The presentation estimated how many customers of companies including CVS and Anthem might overdose. It projected that in 2019, for example, 2,484 CVS customers would either have an overdose or develop an opioid use disorder. A rebate of $14,810 per “event” meant that Purdue would pay CVS $36.8 million that year.
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.
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!
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.)
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.
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
“B (Still Desirable),”
“C (Definitely Declining),”
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:
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 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.