A Feminist Walk Through Harlem: Celebrating Remarkable Women
How do we honor Black and Latina women? How do we preserve their legacy? 2020 marks the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage, but Black women’s contributions to the movement largely go uncelebrated, and most Black women in America could not vote until 1965. As the city and the nation confront issues of representation and equity in public commemoration, and to build on FRIENDS’ discussion of the Women’s Right Pioneers Monument in Central Park, please join FRIENDS of the Upper East Side and Save Harlem Now! for a virtual walk through Harlem. The tour will focus on sites publicly celebrating pioneering Black and Latina women, and issues surrounding the preservation of such sites. Tour guide Leigh Hallingby, of Harlem Walks, will explore the neighborhood murals, mosaics, plaques, and other forms of public commemoration honoring such pioneers as Vivian Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Madam C.J. Walker, Billie Holiday, Mother Clara Hale, Ruby Dee, Lois Alexander, Mary McLeod Bethune, Julia de Burgos, A’Lelia Walker, Nicholasa Mohr, and Zora Neale Hurston.
The week after election day HNBA will hold its November meeting on Tuesday, November 10th at 7 PM.
We are looking forward to a fantastic lineup of guests, the first of which will be representatives from Chase bank who will talk about helping Harlem residents achieve home ownership, including:
Applying for a mortgage Available Grants to help with the down payment 2-4 unit properties – using rental income to qualify Multiple borrowers on one application Is now the time to refi? Pluses and minuses Working with a realtor Single-family Multi-family with rental income Market Condo Deed restricted condo Market co-op HDFC co-op
We will then meet Tali Farhadian Weinstein who is running for Manhattan DA. https://www.taliforda.com/ Tali and her staff recently join in on a walking tour of 125th Street from Lenox to Lexington to see first hand some of the major struggles we have with quality of life and small business development.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein is a prosecutor, a professor, and a proven criminal justice reformer. She is also an immigrant, a daughter, a wife, and the mother of three girls.
Lastly, Jana La Sorte from the NYC Parks Department will join us. Jana is the new administrator for the four Historic Harlem Parks — Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Morningside and St. Nicholas — that advocates for and supports the unique history and character of each park and their future development to better serve the greater Harlem community.
If you are a member of HNBA (Join Here) and would like to join in this exciting conversation on the 10th, email Shawn for the zoom link.
DWB (Driving While Black)
Join the New York & Virtual Premiere of dwb (driving while black) this evening until October 29th.
dwb (driving while black) isa new chamber opera about racism, erasure, and the fear and love that black parents experience when they send their kids out into a world that too often sees them not as a child, but as a threat. This powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African American parent whose beautiful brown boy approaches driving age. What should be a celebration of independence and maturity turns out to be fraught with the anxiety of “driving while black.”
“One of the most singularly devastating theatrical moments of the last year.” –The Pitch
“A composer of vivid imagination and skill” —Fanfare
“Singers are storytellers,” says soprano/librettist Roberta Gumbel (“silver voiced…” – The New York Times), “but rarely do we get the opportunity to help create the stories we are telling.” Collaborating with composer Susan Kander and the cutting-edge duo New Morse Code (“Clarity of artistic vision and near-perfect synchronicity.” icareifyoulisten.com), this brief, powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African-American parent whose “beautiful brown boy” approaches driving age as, what should be a celebration of independence and maturity is fraught with the anxiety of driving while black.
Roberta Gumbel, librettist/soprano Susan Kander, composer Chip Miller, director New Morse Code– Hannah Collins (cello) and Michael Compitello (percussion)
There is a great new map out that attempts to show the where the First People of North America lived pre-1492. The difficulty of representing the fluidity of boundaries is, of course, present here, but we are at least presented with fact that the United States was not an unoccupied space, ready for frictionless colonization.
In the screenshot below you can see how our region was the site of a dense, tightly intertwined network of cultural and linguistic groups.
Getting closer in, the island of Mannahatta was inhabited and used by two groups. The indigenous nation which fished, farmed, hunted, and lived on northern Mannahatta – in what is now Harlem – was the Wappinger Munsee Lenape
And the language spoken here before the Dutch arrived was Montauk huluniixsuwaakan, a variant of Munsee.
To see the full map which covers North American and Australia, and parts of other regions, click here: https://native-land.ca/
The Harlem African Burial Ground development project has been put on hold and as a consequence, the abandoned MTA bus depot that currently occupies the site remains shuttered. In the past, however, this site has also been the location for a film studio.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio was located between 126/127th and 2nd Avenue and the Willis Avenue Bridge on part, but not all, of the bus depot’s block.
The photo (above) is a 1940’s tax photo of the property. Note the water tower and the large ceremonial towers that would have been dramatically visible to riders on the 2nd Avenue El (the train tracks you see at the top left of the photo).
While this location had advantages in terms of its proximity to transportation and downtown NYC, the ever present roar of the El just outside the front doors must have been a huge impediment to sound recording.
By the 1980’s the bus depot had replaced the studio with a low-slung, 2 story facility. The water tower and the El, both long gone.
The Marcus Garvey Park Alliance does such a great job on so many different projects that it’s hard to highlight just one thing that stands out. Today, however, I had finished the book ‘The Wanderers’ by our neighbor Richard Price, and wanted to donate it.
I took it to one of two small lending library kiosks that the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance put up in the park.
The concept is brilliantly simple. Bring a book. Take a book. Return a book.
The artwork – paintings on one, mosaics on the other – celebrate the park and the community:
This last one might be my favorite. People sprawled out on blankets next to the Marcus Garvey Park’s public pool, while a summer sun shines reflective mosaic rays all around
The two kiosks could use some plexiglass to protect the books from the elements.
Brian Benjamin Runs for Comptroller
State Senator Brian Benjamin is running for NYC Comptroller. According to Patch, Senator Benjamin has:
raised the second-most money of anyone in the comptroller’s race: over $462,000, trailing Lander, who had raised more than $613,000 through July 11, the most recent public filing period.
He’s also received the support of a number of local Harlem politicians:
Also on Thursday, Benjamin was endorsed by a number of local officeholders, including councilmembers Diana Ayala and Bill Perkins, Assemblymembers Michael Blake and Al Taylor and State Senator Robert Jackson. Community leaders lining up behind Benjamin include Pastor Michael Waldrond of the First Corinthian Baptist Church and Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference.
Scott Stringer has been a strong supporter of Senator Benjamin and in kind, Senator Benjamin has been working to get the Harlem Machine behind Scott Stringer’s bid for NYC Mayor.
The City reports that despite a budget crisis, the MTA continues to plan for extending the Second Avenue Subway into East Harlem. Even though the pandemic-spurred economic crisis has put the project back, the MTA continues to work with building and property owners to try to purchase sites needed for air shafts, emergency exits, subway entrances, etc.
The map below illustrates in orange, properties that might be acquired, and in yellow, the proposed 2nd Avenue subway line:
The agency has started taking steps to prepare for using eminent domain a last resort.
At its July board meeting, the MTA said it has begun the process of acquiring over a dozen properties along Second Avenue and 125th Street through “negotiated voluntary agreements,” according to agency records.
If agreements can’t be reached “in a timely manner,” documents show, the MTA must take preliminary steps under the state’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law to lessen the potential for future delays to the project.
A great video with amazing production values and choreography is out from HarlemParade.org
Harlem Parade notes that:
The Harlem Parade initiative launched via HARLEMPARADE.ORG on September 17, 2020 with an innovative protest art video – Black Parade Harlem.
Led by Harlem native and principal dancer for Beyoncé, Dnay Baptiste, and Founder and Creative Directorthat produce unique content and event activations to celebrate Harlem’s rich arts community, amplifyHarlem’s Black-owned businesses, and promote civic engagement.
Driven by three pillars of purpose- culture, commerce and community, we are committed to preserving Harlem’s cultural legacy, protecting Harlem’s Black commerce, and empowering Harlem’s thriving community.
I love this distinctive font used on an 1887 church (now a private residence – the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinon bought it almost 10 years ago for 2.75 million – 2050 5th Avenue).
What I am less enthralled about is the fact that at the time of the sale, the deal makers touted that the church would be used for a community space:
According to the brokers who sold 2050 Fifth Avenue, Mr. Rondinone plans to transform the church into some sort of community cultural space. “It was a very busy listing, Louis probably showed it to 80 different groups,” Alan Miller of Eastern Consolidated told The Observer. Louis would be Louis Ricci, the Eastern director in charge of the deal. “When it finally sold,” Mr. Miller continued, “the neighbors were very happy to know it would be something for the community.” (Mr. Rondinone was traveling this afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment.)https://observer.com/2011/11/heaven-yes-ugo-rondinone-buys-harlem-church/
From the very beginning of Harlem, beer was an essential drink among the European colonists. James Riker notes in “History of Harlem” that:
In 1667 beer was the common beverage in the Dutch Colony. “At vendues, or in making contracts or settlements, its presence was deemed indispensable to the proper transaction of the business. The magistrates when occupying the bench always had beer brought in, running up a score with the tapster at the public charge. Nor did the ordination of elders and deacons, or funeral solemnities, form an exception. At such times wine and other liquors, with pipes and tobacco, were also freely distributed. Families commonly laid in their beer by the quarter and half vat, or barrel. — Much of the beer consumed here (in New Harlem) was brewed by Johannes Vermilye, while the breweries of Daniel Verveelen, Isaac de Forest, and Jacob Kip, at New York, were also patronized.”
There were, however, also laws that attempted to restrict the sale of alcohol to the Lenape people in and around Harlem. This prohibition was signed by Nichols, the English ruler of New York, in 1664
A Warrant to the Magistrates of Harlem for the Prohibition of the sale of strong liquors to Indians. Whereas, I am informed of several abuses that are done and committed by the Indians, occasioned much through the liberty some persons take of selling Strong Liquors unto them; These are to require you that you take special care that none of your Town presume to sell any sort of Strong Liquors or Strong Beer unto any Indian, and if you shall find any person offending therein, that you seize upon such Liquor and bring such person before me, to make answers for the offense. Given under my hand, at Fort James, in New York, this 18th of March, 1664 [1665 N. S.]. RICHARD NICOLLS.
The presence, of course, of this “Prohibition” indicates that “the sale” was in fact, a common practice – common enough to warrant special mention.
Beer was not only regulated, but was also taxed – not only in terms of volume but also in terms of quality. This accusation (against Johannes Verveelen) was for his failure to pay tax on beer:
Most Honorable Heeren, Overseers of this Town: Whereas Johannes Verveelen, ordinary-keeper in this town, did on the 6th February wickedly smuggle one-half vat of good beer; on the i8th April, one vat of good beer and one anker of rum; on the 27th of April, one-half vat of good beer; on the 8th May, one-half vat of good beer; on the 27th May, one-half vat of good beer and one anker of rum; all which is contrary to the existing placards on the subject of smuggling, and by the high magistracy approved. Therefore the plaintiff, ex-officio the preserver of the peace, demands that the defendant be condemned in the penalty of twenty-one hundred guilders, according to the placards, together with the costs of prosecution. The I4th June, 1667, in N. Harlem. Yours, Honorable Heeren, DANIEL, TOURNEUR, Deputy Sheriff.
The tavern of the day was Verveelen’s:
At the comer of the lower street and third crossway, Verveelen’s tavern hung out its sign-board, its site now on the north line of 123d street, 300 feet west of 1st avenue. Well patronized, too, by the lovers of good-cheer and goed bier, this is shown by the frequency with which he supplied his vault with goed bier and klegn bier, Spanish wine and rum
The tavern’s site is where (today) the Wagner Projects are located:
And, I can’t end a piece on beer without mentioning Harlem Hops, Harlem’s amazing 21st century pub at 2268 ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JUNIOR BOULEVARD.
Harlem Hops notes that takeout is now available. They write:
Please check out our menu below and call us at 646-998-3444 We are delivering within a 20 block radius of the bar.
If you’re not in the NYC area but would still like to support us, click on the link to our Swag shop where you will fine some cool Harlem Hops Merchandise and Merchandise Gift cards for purchase. If you want to purchase an in-store gift cards, please click on the In-Store Gift Card link. You can also support by donating to our non-profit organization Harlem Hopes.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and your continued patronage
After Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Isaias tore through New York City, the city, businesses, utilities, and neighbors have all been struggling to deal with the loss of mature trees. This tree on Randall’s Island (just over the 103st Bridge) is one example:
Before the storm and before COVID, the city had been marking-up, grinding out, and preparing a number of empty tree pits in our community for replanting with a new, young tree. This is a classic example:
Where the sidewalk has been cut out to the regulation size, and the address (on 5th Avenue) has been spray painted in white. This tree pit should have been populated in March but now who knows what will happen with the COVID related budget cuts that are starting to be felt in all city departments?
Street trees store 23% of all the carbon that New Yorkers produce. NYC ‘forests’ – think trees in parks – store another 69%:
If you’ve ever considered putting your money in a Credit Union, the LES People’s Credit Union which has for years worked out of the Union Settlement House on East 104th Street, is moving closer to us at the north-west corner of 117th and 2nd Avenue.
The credit union has low fees, flexible terms, and is a great place to bank at.