A Modest Proposal: Density

Gotham Gazette has a well thought out essay on how density should be a planning goal for our community in light of the 2nd Avenue Subway extension:

High-quality planning and significant upzoning could boost ridership on the new line and remake East Harlem into a place that more comfortably accommodates current and future residents–of all income levels. The New York City Department of City Planning, the MTA and its New York City Transit division, and NYCHA need to plan proactively and “think big” for the neighborhood’s future.

The first phase of the Second Avenue line (with stops at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets) serves the Upper East Side. This affluent district is characterized by large apartment buildings permitted primarily by R8 and R10 zoning. Major institutions like Hunter College and hospital complexes attract thousands of daily subway commuters. The first stops of the Q Line quickly attracted about 200,000 riders per day, and patronage is rebounding amid pandemic recovery.

This strong ridership was predictable. Upscale, high-density redevelopment of the East Side tenements has been a civic priority since the 1940s. Big, bulky apartment buildings are often frowned upon in NIMBY circles, but the vitality of the Upper East Side demonstrates the value of concentrating hundreds of thousands of people together in suitable housing near transit. The apartment buildings frequently have stores at the base and wide sidewalks. Many remaining tenement buildings have been renovated for higher-income renters. Population density of this type is one of New York’s enduring assets–and a key to its rebounding fortunes in the post-covid era.

Extending the subway line in East Harlem along Second Avenue between 96th Street and 125th Streets is a different story. The neighborhood’s threadbare low-rise tenements remain a dominant feature. Developers, due to redlining, ignored the area for decades. Overcrowded apartments, rent-burdened families, and building code violations in the area are well documented. The longstanding Puerto Rican and Black communities in the area have thrived despite widespread housing exploitation and poor living conditions.

The city and NYCHA redeveloped sections of the district since the 1940s, but these efforts have lost their luster. East Harlem retains one of the nation’s largest concentrations of “tower in the park” public housing. The iconic red-brick towers, built far below the allowable zoning envelope, were once a showpiece of the city’s social vision. Today, however, growing maintenance issues, because of limited capital and operating subsidies, have undermined resident quality of life.

Despite their Manhattan location and the Lexington Subway line running nearby, planners built the NYCHA housing projects at low-density levels with acres of lawn and surface parking. The local stations through which the current Lexington Subway runs (103rd, 110th, and 116th Streets) have modest ridership compared to stations below 96th Street. Very few NYCHA developments have stores at ground level, creating empty zones along major Avenues.

Read the full article, here:

https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/11193-east-harlem-nycha-second-ave-subway-housing-transit

New Art Exhibit

Make sure to head over to 2605 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at 139th Street) to AHL’s Space Uptown, for a new exhibit featuring a number of uptown artists, including our neighbor Buhm Hong:

https://www.aaartsalliance.org/events/space-uptown

The exhibit will continue until May 21.

Watch Blurring the Color Line

Blurring the Color Line is being shown at the Harlem International Film Festival.

Following director Crystal Kwok’s personal journey of discovery, BLURRING THE COLOR LINE digs deep into how her grandmother’s family navigated life as neighborhood grocery store owners in the Black community of Augusta, Georgia during the Jim Crow era.

This documentary serves to disrupt racial narratives and bridge divides.

To watch a conversation about this film see:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16dtI5Ao4do8NYs0OMG8D4u2uDIUqImqn/view

And here is more about the film:

https://www.blurringthecolorline.com/events

Join Jane (Walking East/West Harlem)

Event Registration

Jane’s Walk 2022: A Great Day in Harlem: Crossing the 5th Avenue Divide

05/08/2022 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM ET

Admission

  • Free

Summary

Take your mother for a stroll around East and Central Harlem above 125th Street, straddling Fifth Avenue, the traditional dividing line between East and Central Harlem. Members of Landmark East Harlem (LEH) will introduce you to the treasures of the second historic district that LEH has proposed for listing on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Featured sites include 19th-century wood frame houses, Victorian-era rowhouses, landmarks associated with James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, former church buildings that have been given new purpose, and the brownstone stoop that served as the site of the iconic 1958 photograph of jazz musicians by Art Kane for Esquire magazine. A virtual live stream will be available on Landmark East Harlem’s Instagram channel: @LEH_NYC.

Free Concert in MGP

Gabriel Chakarji Group
Join us for a concert with an amazing composer and musician: Gabriel
Chakarji. As a Venezuelan immigrant in NYC, by linking together his
past and present, he combines contemporary jazz and improvised
music techniques, with elements of the rich Venezuelan music culture,
especially the African influences of rhythm and drum parts, call and
response, and the spiritual and social context of the music.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022 || 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

This event is FREE, but space is limited. To RSVP, go to jazzpf4.eventbrite.com
Pelham Fritz Recreation Center | 18 Mount Morris Park, New York, NY 10027
Located at 112th St. Phone (212) 860-1373

Thoughts or comments on this post?