Where One Gathers the Wood to Make Bows (aka, Manhattan)

William Starna (Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the State University of New York College at Oneonta) has a fascinating short article on the Origins of the Name Manhattan:

The event is a storied one. In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased a large island at the mouth of the Hudson River from unknown and unnamed although otherwise Munsee-speaking Indians, at a yet undiscovered location, for an equally obscure price. The acquisition has been celebrated by any number of paintings and sketches—all of undeniable invention—but also tarnished by the unmasking of a phony deed of sale. The island’s name, however, is no mystery. Indeed, it is the first native language place name recorded by European interlopers between the Maine coast and Chesapeake Bay. Entered in Robert Juet’s log of Hudson’s third voyage of 1609 and engraved on the 1610 Velasco map are the words Manna-hata, Manahata, and Manahatin—today’s Manhattan. And as is the case with all place names, no matter the original language, attempts have been made to pry meaning from this word’s oldest recorded forms.

Although a comprehensive listing is not offered here, a first effort to find a meaning, a translation of Manhattan, is that of the late-eighteenth-century Moravian missionary John Heckewelder, who provided what turns out to be a folk etymology— “the island where we all became intoxicated.” Henry Schoolcraft, an acknowledged authority on Indians, added “people of the whirlpool,” a nod to conditions at the tidal strait called Hell Gate on the East River. J. Hammond Trumball, a philologist of some note out of Connecticut, supplied “island,” echoed some years later by William Wallace Tooker’s “an island” and “a hill island.” Edward Ruttenber, of Hudson Valley history fame and following what others had to say, simply made it the name of the native people who inhabited the island—the Manhattans. Today, however, there is a popular consensus that Manhattan means “land of many hills,” “island of many hills,” or “hilly island.”

In 1907, William Beauchamp, in his notable Aboriginal Place Names of New York, summarized all that was known at the time of Manhattan’s meaning, adding, however, an 1885 account by a Delaware Indian that “Manahatouh” (Man-ă-hă-tonh in the original) was a place where wood to fashion bows and arrows could be found. This Delaware, Albert Anthony, as linguist Ives Goddard tells us, knew full well the meaning of Manhattan as rendered in Munsee, his native language. Educated at Huron College in London, Ontario, Anthony was ordained an Anglican priest in 1873. In the 1880s he worked with ethnologist Daniel Brinton, co-authoring A Lenâpé-English Dictionary (Philadelphia, 1889). Still, what Anthony had offered became lost among the many guesses, misattributions, and inventions where place names are vulnerable to distortion and corruption. But thanks to Anthony, and most recently an expert historical and linguistic analysis by Ives Goddard, beginning with the three original early-seventeenth-century versions of the word “Manhattan,” it can confidently be said that it carries the meanings: “where one gathers the wood to make bows”; “place for gathering the wood to make bows”; and “at the place for gathering the wood to make bows.” As Goddard reminds us, “The true word recovers the true history.

“Information drawn from Ives Goddard, “The Origin and Meaning of the Name ‘Manhattan,’” New York History 92, 4 (2010): 277–293.

2020 Census Data on Black New Yorkers

A view of Zip Code 10035 from the 2020 Census. You can see that over the last 30 years, the percentage of Black residents went down from 35% to 26% – still the second largest group in this zip code.

In this map of northern Manhattan (above) you can see the grayer areas where the percentage of Black New Yorkers went down, and the purple areas, where the percentage of Blacks increased.

(what on earth is going on with Central Park in bright purple, census people?)

For more, see:


Time to Vote!

Everything you need to know about early voting, election day, etc:


The Train Used to Stop at 110th Street

Above is a rendering of the 110th Street station in 1876 on what became the Metro-North line on Park Avenue. Note that above 110th street the train line was not on an iron el platform, and instead was on a solid masonry platform.

You can see spacious upper Manhattan farmland, a few brownstones (long since gone and replaced by projects), the tunnel at 98th Street, and horse and buggies.

The 110th Street station opened in 1876 and Harlem residents could catch up to sixteen trains a day that ran between Grand Central and William’s Bridge.

By 1896-1897 as the line’s grade was raised onto iron girders north of 111th Street and the new viaduct and the new 110th Street station opened in February 1897. However, by 1906, the New York Central Railway discontinued service at the 110th Street station.

The 110th Street station (as seen above) was partially built within the viaduct. The station’s waiting room was built into the northern side of the bridge over 110th Street and was located at street level.

From the waiting room, two staircases went up along the side of the viaduct’s retaining walls–one per side–to the side platforms atop the viaduct.

The stairways to the street still exist and are used in case of emergencies.

Letter Sent to CB11 to Support Converting Shelters in CB11 to Supportive Housing

Households with Someone Who Uses Electric Medical Equipment

How Calculated: 

Estimated number of households reporting someone using electric medical equipment; expressed as percent.

Source: New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS)

A Sign of Our Times

A month or two ago I thought this sign for Unk’s Place with a masked Unk, is the kind of image that historians will be able to date with casual accuracy as 2020 or 2021. Now with the Delta virus spreading so rapidly and festering amid the unvaccinated, we are again looking at a longer masked future.

Opioid Injection Site in East Harlem Floated by DOHMH

On Monday the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene visited CB11 and floated a trial balloon to hint that they are considering locating an opioid injection site in East Harlem.

The full presentation was given by Dr. Cunningham and is available here:

The specific pitch for the need for opioid injection sites is here:

If you are on Twitter, please reach out to @DrChinazo and/or her boss @NYCHealthCommr with any thoughts you might have on opioid injection sites being located in East Harlem. Feel free to use the hashtag:


If you are not on Twitter, you can email Dr. Cunningham at: [email protected]

If you would like to read more about how DOHMH talks about #SystemicRacism in publications (yet somehow always puts programs like this in communities like Harlem and East Harlem…) see:

I’ve been to Vancouver and have seen their first opioid injection site. You can see a December 2020 streetview here:


Cheerleading vs. Critical Thinking

On June 6, 2021, New York City launched a pilot program in which both mental and physical health professionals are responding to 911 mental health emergency calls. This new approach, called B-HEARD – the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division attempts to treat mental health crises as public health problems, not public safety issues

B-HEARD teams include emergency medical technicians/paramedics from the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services and social workers from NYC Health + Hospitals. Teams operate seven days a week, 16 hours a day in the 25, 28, and 32 police precincts in East Harlem and parts of central and north Harlem.

In 2020, there were approximately 8,400 mental health 911 calls in this area (Zone 7), the highest volume of any dispatch zone in the city.

The goals of the B-HEARD pilot are to:

Route 911 mental health calls to a health-centered B-HEARD response whenever it is appropriate to do so. Calls that involve a weapon, an imminent risk of harm, or where NYPD or EMS call-takers know that an individual has an immediate need for a transport to a medical facility will continue to receive a traditional 911 response—an ambulance and police officers.

Increase connection to community-based care, reduce unnecessary transports to hospitals, and reduce unnecessary use of police resources. Before B-HEARD, mental healthcare was not delivered in communities during an emergency. Instead, emergency medical technicians/paramedics provided basic medical assistance in the field and transported those who needed mental healthcare to a hospital. Now, with B-HEARD social workers delivering care on site, emergency mental healthcare is reaching people in their homes or in public spaces for the first time in New York City’s history.

The text above is cribbed from the promotional material of BHeard that you can read (in full) here:

What is interesting is that the rosy picture in the 2nd half of the press release on how successful BHeard has been, is sharply contrasted with the careful analysis found in the Gothamist where they note that the data indicates that:

During the first three months of its operation between early June and late August, 1,478 emergency mental health calls were made to 911 operators in the areas serviced by the program. Only 23% of those calls — 342 incidents — were routed to B-HEARD teams. The rest of the mental health crises were initially shared with traditional response teams involving the cops. In both cases, emergency medical technicians or paramedics were dispatched as well.

On top of that, B-HEARD was often under-resourced and didn’t have enough personnel to handle all of the emergencies shared by 911 operators. The program had to redirect 17% of calls back to the police.

To read the full, Gothamist analysis, see:


Harlem Restaurants

So many New Yorkers, and out-of-town guests, for that matter, come to Harlem for the food. Eater recently put out their list of To-Try restaurants but one wonders how recent the intelligence is given that Mountain Bird (highlighted here) is listed while no longer in business.

Another quibble is that Chaiwali isn’t included, but I suppose it’s someone’s list, not mine.


$100,000 for First Time Homebuyers

NEW YORK—The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) today announced that the HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance Program will offer up to $100,000 to support qualified first-time homebuyers purchasing a home in New York City. The expansion more than doubles the amount of financial assistance available for first-time homebuyers and achieves a key goal of City’s Where We Live NYC fair housing plan to empower low-income New Yorkers with more housing opportunities in well-resourced neighborhoods.

Under the enhanced program, which takes effect today, the City aims to grow the number of homes affordable to low-income, first-time homebuyers, particularly in neighborhoods where housing prices place ownership out of the reach of low-income families.

“For too long, there’s been unequal access to homeownership, the largest wealth creator in this country,” said Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “This critical expansion of “HomeFirst” will serve to make New Yorkers more economically secure, our neighborhoods more stable, and a recovery for all of us more certain.”

“This major expansion of down-payment support is a big win for equity and diversity as it tackles one of the biggest barriers to homeownership for low-income families and families of color,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “Positioning more families to own a home, build wealth for their kids, and take ownership of their communities is a key strategy for achieving our vision of a more equitable New York City.”

“In minority communities, one of the only ways to build and transfer wealth is through the accumulation of equity in properties,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “As Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, I am delighted at this new source of funding. We can come up with creative ways to support new homeowners, so HPD deserves praise for this new resource.”

HomeFirst offers financial assistance towards the down payment or closing costs of a home for first-time homebuyers of one-to-four-family homes in the five boroughs. Eligible applicants can earn up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income, or $86,000 for a family of three. HomeFirst participants must complete a homebuyer education course, contribute savings to the purchase, and live in their home for up to 15 years to receive the full benefits of loan forgiveness through the program. The Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHS) administers the program on the City’s behalf, and it is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Pool Tournatment

Our Meeting with Mark Levine and The NYC Accelerator Program

We had a great meeting on October 12th with Mark Levine. If you missed it, and want to learn more about his vision for Manhattan (or learn more about the NYC Accelerator Program), please see:


Passcode: 5Rn^1!L#

Sculpture in Marcus Garvey Park

On view through October 1, 2022, Thomas J Price: Witness celebrates a familiar everyday form rarely monumentalized within a public setting. In the artist’s words, “I want to interrogate [notions of] presence, movement, and freedom. Who do these spaces belong to? And what bodies are provided more or less autonomy to move with liberty through public [space]?” 

Thomas J Price: Witness is presented as part of The Studio Museum in Harlem’s series of collaborative initiatives, inHarlem, which are being undertaken while the Museum is preparing for the construction of its new building.

Stop by Marcus Garvey Park starting this October and view this monumental work. 

Open House NY Weekend: Grandscale Mural Project

More than half a mile of murals, created by more than 100 artists: The Grandscale Mural Project is now part of Open House New York Weekend!

Since its start nearly two decades ago, OHNY shines a spotlight on the places, people, projects and ideas that define New York and its future. This year’s event includes some 200 different in-person and
virtual tours, talks and self-guided walks at select locations citywide.

Join Uptown Grand Central this Sunday, October 17, from 1-5 p.m. to walk the walls of the Grandscale Mural Project that stretch along East 125th and East 124th streets, and Park, Lexington and Third Avenues:

The murals feature a wide range of street art styles, and many of our participating artists will be on hand to tell their stories and answer your questions. In-person artists include: Mark Musters, BC1 NBA,
Blanka Amezkua, Laura Alvarez, Erica Purnell, Ysabel Abreu, Yeksoe, Carla Torres, One Rad Latina, Social Icon, Gia Gutierrez, Alexis Vanity, Danny Peguero, EunHea Kim, the CCC Art Collective and SJK 171.

Blazay (from the DMX mural fame) will also be live-painting portraits next to the fire station at Third Avenue & 124th Street.

To start, come find us under the yellow tent just outside the Harlem-125th Street Metro-North Station.

Court Ordered Evictions

How Calculated: 

Rate of executed evictions ordered by the New York City Housing Court, including those pending and scheduled as of December 31, per 10,000 housing units.

Eviction data are reported by New York City Marshals and gathered from NYC Open Data. For more information, see: https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Evictions/6z8x-wfk4

Source: New York City Department of Investigation

Odyssey House on East 126 Advances

Odyssey House – a major social services provider in East Harlem (one of their buildings is shown below from the Metro-North platform) – is advancing its project on East 126th Street.

Concrete is being poured. Pump trucks are engaged:

Sign Up for the 25th Precinct Community Council Meeting

Please use the above link to register for the 25th Precinct’s Community Council meeting – October 20th at 6:00 PM.  They need a count of how many plan on attending in person.
Thank you all so much