Bills passed by the Council go to the mayor for to be signed into law. The Council can override a veto from the mayor with a vote of at least two-thirds of the members.
The Council also negotiates with the mayor to pass the city budget every year. Each Council member has his or her own discretionary budget to fund local projects and groups. The Council holds oversight hearings through its many committees. And, critically, the body votes to approve or reject development projects that need public approval.
You can think of the Council as like Congress for the City of New York, as this guide from the Council puts it. The city’s Campaign Finance Board created the below video outlining some of the duties and responsibilities of the City Council:
Sumptuous Gifts from a Black Women-Owned Harlem Business
If you want a gift from Harlem to take to a friend’s (now that you’re both fully vaccinated), the Harlem Chocolate Factory on ACP at 139, is a great place to consider.
The Museum of the City of New York has a new exhibit about the New York response/experience of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests. This timeline is worth watching and remembering just how fraught 2020 was (oh, and it had, perhaps, the most consequential presidential election in our lifetime…?).
FIELDTRIP in Harlem will be serving hot breakfasts daily for children between the hours of 7 am – 8 am. The program runs from May 26, and ends on June 25. Breakfast will be served from FIELDTRIP weekdays M – F from 7 AM – 8 AM Please reserve your breakfast 3 days before pickup. Breakfasts must be reserved by an adult and require an adult signoffBreakfasts must be reserved to pick up. No walkups will be accommodated. Breakfasts are free to all children who sign up. For questions, please email: [email protected]
In the 19th and early 20th century coal usurped wood as the most common heat source in New York City. The environmental and health costs of millions of homes heating with coal were enormous, and an army of coal merchants and their employees had to get coal to homes come rain, shine, or snow.
To store coal for heating and for cooking, most buildings in Harlem and New York City in general, were outfitted with a coal storage area, underground, typically extending to the property line – even if the building was setback to allow the stairs or stoop to reach the elevated 1st floor. To access this coal storage area, builders created an 18 to 22 inch hole that reached the sidewalk or front patio, that was then covered with a heavy cast iron, circular coal chute cover. Coal companies looked at these coal cute covers as marketing opportunities, and frequently embellished them with their company name, address, and logo.
Here are a few of the coal covers that remain in our neighborhood, as discovered on meandering walks.
The coal chute (above) has lost its cast iron cover, and is simply cemented over.
The one below is cracked and now inaccessible because of a modern metal fence.
Ray DeCarava, the black and white mid-century photographer of Harlem and the 1950’s jazz scene, took this photo of a child on a sidewalk with a coal chute cover in the foreground.
This coal chute cover, today is shown below. Note how much more worn the stars are after an extra 70 years of foot traffic.
Chaiwali’s Founder and Executive Chef, Anita Trehan
Thrillist has a list out of women-owned restaurants with innovative and exceptional cuisine. Chaiwali’s very own Anita Trehan is profiled:
For self-taught chef and owner of Harlem-based eatery, Chaiwali, it was Anita Trehan’s natural talent in melding flavors—not family recipes or maternal influences—that led to opening her popular plant-based Indian restaurant.
“I’ve never been to culinary school, or to a restaurant school. I’ve never taken a single cooking class in my life, never followed a recipe book. Just like when you write something you know what you want to express—I know what I want my food to taste like,” says Trehan.
Even naming her restaurant was an intuitive blend: Merging the word chai (the centering start to her day) with wali (the feminine version of the term, signifying “someone who does”) was the perfect alliance—recognizing it is women who are the true nurturers and center of any home or space.
The Jewish presence in Harlem before The Depression has given us a number of landmarked structures that have (often) since been converted into churches. One of the most elegant of these buildings is, of course, the Mount Olivet Baptist Church which was once Temple Israel.
But Jewish Harlem had more than houses of worship, they also had houses of amusement. This article from the New York Times details the construction of a new Harlem Yiddish Theatre:
Note the transition from a white church, to the First Colored Church, to a Yiddish theatre.
As the neighborhood changed, this building, 11 West 116th Street, would also change hands and become a church, again.
Today this location is a construction site where a residential building (with commercial below) is being built.
A few doors east – The Mount Morris Theater – would also start as a Yiddish theater and Harlem movie house, but by the 1930s, become probably the most popular of several Spanish-language movie houses in New York. Spanish-speakers from all over the city would come to “Spanish Harlem” to enjoy the stage and screen shows offered at the Teatro Campoamor, which would later be known also as the Teatro Cervantes, Teatro Hispano and Radio Teatro Hispano.
This former theater/movie house is now an Apostolic Church
Preserving Places of Significance for Black History
New York City has a great interactive map and article on site within the 5 boroughs that are important for our collective history, and Black history in particular. The site: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/2e2f8343e7254e948f5a0d3699ba91fd is a great resource and the interactive aspect of the map allows you to focus on whichever aspects of the built landscape you’re interested in viewing.
Harlem Restaurant Week
Harlem Restaurant Week kicked off on Valentine’s Day, with some 50 restaurants across Harlem participating with takeout, delivery, outdoor and indoor dining.
Organized by Harlem Park to Park, this year’s campaign runs through February 28 and features $25 specials to celebrate the 25% capacity return to indoor dining, plus “Best In Harlem $10 Eats.”
What you may not know is that The Eldorado was bought in 1954 by the famous Harlem pastor: Daddy Grace.
Daddy Grace was the charismatic leader of, and the founder and first bishop of the predominantly African-American denomination the United House of Prayer For All People. He was a contemporary of other religious leaders such as Father Divine, Noble Drew Ali and Ernest Holmes. Daddy Grace, an innovative Christian evangelist, faith healer, pastor and bishop, used his unique worship style to birth a distinctive religious institution on the American scene. Many of his followers claimed miraculous acts of faith healing while attending services and others saw his ministry as a sign from God of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
Marcelino Manuel da Graca, using the anglicized version of his name, Charles Manuel (Emmanuel) Grace, began using the title “Bishop”. In 1919, he built the first House of Prayer in West Wareham, Massachusetts at the cost of $39. He later established branches in Harlem (the “Mother House”, Charlotte, North Carolina, Newark, New Jersey, and beyond.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Bishop Grace traveled America preaching and establishing the United House of Prayer for All People. The Constitution and By-Laws of The United House of Prayer, promulgated in 1929, stated that the purpose of the organization in pertinent part was “to erect and maintain places of worship and assembly where all people may gather prayer and to worship the Almighty God, irrespective of denomination or creed.” He traveled extensively throughout the segregated South in the 1920s and 1930s preaching to integrated congregations years before the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s and the religious ecumenical movements which followed.
(the Harlem church after a recent major renovation – Frederick Douglass Blvd. and West 124th Street.
Bishop Grace died in 1960 and is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Trader Joe’s Is Coming To Harlem
Trader Joe’s is coming to Harlem on West 125th Street. The new store will be located between the State Office Building and the Staples/Marshall’s building. Opening in 2022.
Trader Joe’s will soon open a new grocery store in Harlem, the chain’s first location in Upper Manhattan. The store will occupy 28,000 square feet of ground-floor space of the forthcoming Urban League Empowerment Center at 121 West 125th Street.
Developers responsible for the new property include The Prusik Group, BRP Companies, L+M Development Partners, and Taconic Partners. When complete, the Urban League Empowerment Center will also house the new headquarters and conference center for the National Urban League, as well as the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum, New York State’s first civil rights museum, and a new Target.
Additional components will include 170 units of supportive and affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers making 30 to 80 percent of Area Median Income.
The story of Malcolm X is, of course, profoundly intertwined with that of Harlem.
As a leading figure in Harlem’s radical scene it may seem incongruous that he was appointed to the 28th Precinct’s Community Council to serve as a community liaison. The chairman of the 28th Precinct’s Community Council was James Hicks
the influential editor of the New York Amsterdam News. Hicks was impressed by Malcolm X’s masterful ability to control the crowds during a protest against police brutality in the spring of 1957.
Perhaps no single event catapulted Malcolm X into the public eye more than the police beating of Johnson X Hinton. Malcolm had quickly risen through the ranks of the NOI since his release from prison, becoming a permanent fixture in Philadelphia before being appointed the head minister of Harlem’s Mosque 7 in 1955. However, both the minister and the Nation of Islam maintained a low public profile and were regarded by most as little more than a fringe religious cult. This changed on April 26, 1957, when police intervened in a scuffle between a man and woman at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. Hinton and several local mosque members came across the police beating the man. When Hinton and his companions were ordered to leave the scene, they refused and responded: “You’re not in Alabama − this is New York.” Hinton was then placed under arrest and subsequently beaten by patrolman Mike Dolan with his nightstick, receiving what was later described as “multiple lacerations of the scalp” and a “subdural hemorrhage.”
Malcolm X was quickly notified and marched with mosque members to the nearby 28th Precinct. Within a few telephone calls and in less than half an hour, fifty members of the Nation’s paramilitary group, the Fruit of Islam, stood in formation outside the precinct. There, Malcolm demanded that Hinton be admitted for treatment at Harlem Hospital while the crowd outside swelled to nearly two thousand. More impressive than the size of the silently protesting crowd was the orderliness and simplicity by which it was dispersed. Assured that Hinton had received the proper care, Malcolm approached the crowd, raised his arm, and gave a signal. One bystander described it as “eerie, because these people just faded into the night. It was the most orderly movement of four thousand to five thousand people I’ve ever seen in my life − they just simply disappeared − right before our eyes.” Malcolm’s silent command also left a strong impression on the New York Police. The chief inspector at the scene turned to AmsterdamNews reporter James Hicks and said: “This is too much power for one man to have.”
The event garnered media attention for both the Nation of Islam and for Malcolm individually, earning him the reputation as the one man who “could stop a race riot − or start one.” Of course, it was not merely the Harlem public, but the NYPD which took an active notice. The chief inspector quickly released a series of urgent inquiries to police departments and government agencies in Michigan and Massachusetts requesting Malcolm’s criminal background. Malcolm also became a primary concern for the department’s newly formed surveillance unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSS). The Nation of Islam eventually filed three lawsuits, the largest of them for a million-dollars. The sum of $70,000 eventually granted Hinton the largest damage award the city had ever paid in a police brutality case and was granted by an all-white jury. Ultimately the legacy of the Johnson X Hinton case was not merely Malcolm X’s explosion onto the local and national scene, but the strong precedent set against police brutality through litigation and public protest.
Below you can see the old 28th Precinct station house on April 3rd, 1918:
Today the brutalist bunker (complete with a modernist moat, defensive wall, and projecting parapets) is anything but, architecturally welcoming.
For Spike Lee’s interpretation of this event see:
2021 Restaurant Week
NYC Restaurant Week® 2021 Is Back With Delivery – Order To Go!
It’s pretty much too late to buy anything online and have it get here on time. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: Join us for some local gift-shopping today, Saturday, December 19, from 3-6 p.m. under the tracks at Urban Garden Center.
We’ll have a curated selection of arts, crafts and treats, all made by local business owners.
Frenchy Coffee — s’mores hot chocolate, coffee, chocolate twists, madeleines, gluten-free and vegan muffins
The details: DRIVE-BY (116TH STREET): Pull up by bike or by car at the 116th Street entrance to Urban Garden Center, and we’ll serve sweets and treats directly to your vehicle. Cash and credit accepted.
WALK-UP (117TH STREET): Urban Garden Center will be selling trees and wreaths at their 117th Street entrance. Enter there, smell that evergreen air, then exit toward 116th Street into the vendor area. Lines will be marked off at 6-foot intervals. Cash and credit accepted.