Eartha Kitt

Austin Hansen photographed Kitt leading a dance group at the Harlem YMCA in the early 1950’s.

Eartha had been a professional dancer, dancing and touring with the Katherine Dunham Company between 1943 and 1948 before she became more widely known as a singer.

Note the photo below, and the vents under the windows as the space appears today (not to mention the basketball and other line markings):

This photograph is part of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s collection and is held just down the block from the site of the photograph itself.

There Go The Porches

There are not a lot of homes with front porches in Harlem. Some, but not many. Obviously, the most well-known example is Astor Row, but until recently, there was a small group of row houses on East 129th Street near Park. Obviously the row was a bit forlorn and had been an auxiliary space for the the Storefront Academy, across the street:

Nevertheless, it was sad to see them shaved off, unlikely to return:

Lost Church – Part 2

A month or two ago I’d mentioned that The Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital, just east of Marcus Garvey Park (between 122nd and 121st Streets and Madison and Park Avenues) replaced a Harlem church (outlined in green below)

The fuzzy photo (below) showed the rock rubble in Marcus Garvey park before the depression era work to revitalize the park, with the church in the distance.

Zooming in, you can see the church, and the brownstones that used to line Madison Avenue.

One of the readers mentioned that this church was a Russian Orthodox church, and she was able to provide this (much, much) better photo of the church, looking northward on Madison Avenue:

Note the total lack of trees on Madison Avenue, and the brownstones lining the way north to 123rd street. It must be a warm day, as the shadow indicates its early in the morning, and the kids all seem to have shorts on.

As Seen In Harlem

Harlem East Endorses Inez Dickens

The Harlem East Block Association has run candidate forums, candidate surveys, and member polls, and the results are in!

60+% of the Harlem East Block Association voted to endorse Inez Dickens. The block association members appreciate Inez’s track record of preserving affordable housing & her willingness to address safety & quality of life issues in Harlem.

As a result, the Harlem East Block Association decided to endorse Assembly Member Inez Dickens as the City Council Member for District 9 in Harlem and they recommend rank choice voting in this order #1 Inez Dickens #2 Yusef Salaam and #3 Al Taylor. 

The Harlem East Block Association is urging everyone to vote as recommended in order to get the attention of these busy officials. To make their impact felt, everyone has been asked to to register to vote by June 17 and vote on June 27 for the primary election. Members are also urged to consider donating to Inez Dickens at https://www.inezedickens.com

For every $100 that is donated, $800 is matched by the Board of Election. 

Here is how you can spread the word on social media: twitterinstagram and facebook.

Still not sure whom you will vote for?  Checkout these questionnaires and recording of Harlem East Block Association’s extensive work on researching the candidates:

Other info:

As Seen In Harlem

Landmarking in Harlem

Minton’s Playhouse and an apartment building in Hamilton Heights where jazz pioneers Duke Ellington and Noble Lee Sissle once lived may soon be listed and landmarked.

Thelonius Monk, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, and Teddy Hill outside Minton’s Playhouse in 1947. Photo via WikiCommons

Minton’s Playhouse on West 118th Street was the birthplace of bebop, an improvisational style of jazz, came to prominence during the 1940s. Over three decades, the club hosted famous house bands, star headliners, and informal jam sessions, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The five-story Renaissance Revival hotel where Mintons was located was listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book. Minton’s remained a center of jazz music throughout the 1950s and 60s and was the location where several important live albums were recorded by artists including Tony Scott, Stanley Turrentine, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. The club stayed open until 1974 after a fire damaged the building.

The other Harlem building is maybe over the border into Hamilton Heights, but is deeply linked to Harlem is a limestone and terracotta apartment building at 935 St. Nicholas Avenue where for more than 20 years, legendary jazz musicians Edward “Duke” Ellington and Noble Lee Sissle lived.

Ellington lived in the building from 1939 to 1961, at the height of his career. Sissle resided in the building from 1950 to 1972, in the later part of his career.

When he lived in the building, Ellington wrote many songs that have become American jazz standards like “Sophisticated Lady” and “Satin Doll.” Sissle, who was a member of the Harlem Hellfighters during World War II, became known as the unofficial “Mayor of Harlem” during his time on St. Nicholas Avenue, writing for both the “New York Age” and “New York Amsterdam News” and hosting a local radio show.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way‘ Approved and Scheduled to Receive Sign

Gothamist reported on the recent controversial co-naming of 127th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem as “The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way” supported by Councilmember Kristin Jordan. Opponents of co-naming this street after Elijah Muhammad referenced that Muhammad and others in the Nation of Islam had frequently espoused and encouraged anti-Semitic and anti-white sentiment.

Harlem’s councilmember stated:

“It is actually not OK to erase Black leaders who are not pleasing to white people,” Jordan told her colleagues during the full Council vote. “I profoundly vote aye on Elijah Muhammad Way.”

Are You Ready To Vote?

Check your registration here:

https://vote.nyc/page/register-vote

or register if you’re not yet.

Environmental Justice Conference

On May 25, Cristina Contreras, CEO of Metropolitan Hospital and District Leader Will Smith will open an exciting Environmental Justice Conference at Metropolitan Hospital

Morning Session: 10 am – noon

The order of presenters:

  1.  Steve Chiu, Representative to the UN
  2. Ameesha Mehta-Sampath, EPA
  3. Tyisha Smalls, We Act
  4. Kyle Jeremiah, Energy Vision
  5. Dr. Pellicone, Chief Medical Officer, NYC Health + Hospital

Lunch Break: Noon until 1 pm

[Congressman Adriano Espaillat. Representative Jose Serrano and Councilman Diana Ayala will be in attendance – they may give a talk in the auditorium between 12:30 and 1] 

Afternoon Session: 1 pm – 4 pm

  1. Tomi Vest, General Counsel to Manhattan Borough President
  2. James C. Lendemer, Lichenologist at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
  3. Narendra Paramanand, Analyst, NYC Parks
  4. Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, First Deputy Commissioner at NYC Parks and Rec.
  5. Jean Kim, Executive Director of the East River Esplanade

HNBA Meeting Tonight!

Hello Harlem Neighbors,

TONIGHT at 7:00 PM HNBA will meet on Zoom with an exciting and packed agenda.

The meeting will start off with a presentation from neighbors in the 2041/5th HDFC Co-Op (5th Avenue at 126th Street) who are planning a second annual family and community block party to celebrate the children in East Harlem on 8/12/23.  Lionel will answer any questions you have about the block party and hopefully encourage you to get involved. 

Shawn Hill will then present on new data regarding NYC’s Shelter Distribution 

To be followed by Travon Butler, who’ll tell us more about the upcoming Participatory Budgeting project that his office – Civic Engagement.NYC – is promoting.

Our District Leader for the 68th Assembly District – Sharase DeBouse – will provide a community update.

And we’ll conclude with a brief presentation from NYC’s Rat Academy representative, Martha Vernazza, Community Coordinator for Rats (what a job title…) on upcoming Rat Academies for Manhattan Community Boards 9, 10, and 11 residents.  

See you on Zoom TODAY at 7:00 PM:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85809784042?pwd=MHRWMU4xUHNrZWpMWkVBbzk5bDBjdz09

Meeting ID: 858 0978 4042
Passcode: 840216

The Other Harlems

No, not the Haarlem in the Netherlands, the Harlems in Georgia, Montana, Florida, and Illinois.

This project doesn’t account for neighborhoods but only takes into consideration counties or towns. Thus our Harlem isn’t in the running. The population numbers of America’s other Harlems is interesting:

If you’d like to test drive another location, here’s the link:

https://pudding.cool/2023/03/same-name/

Lindy Hop

The International Lindy Hop festival and competition comes to Harlem. If you’re into dance, you don’t want to miss world-class competitions, insightful dance classes with expert instructors, incredible live music, open social dancing late into the night, and swing community events like the World Lindy Hop Day celebration, walking tours of Harlem, the Black Lindy Hoppers’ Fund Swing Dance Museum, and more.

During Memorial Day Weekend 2023 (May 25–29), an estimated 1,000 swing dance and jazz music enthusiasts will gather in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood to “Celebrate Lindy Hop where it all began!” with the World Finals of the 2023 International Lindy Hop Championships.

Best of all, you’ll meet hundreds of other dancers, from all over the world, who are as passionate about Lindy Hop as you!


Register

Participatory Budgeting

Ranked Choice Voting – Get Ready for the Democratic Primary – June 27th

Voters will use ranked choice voting (RCV) once again in the June 27, 2023 primary for most of the candidates shown on their ballots. Many Harlem residents (with party affiliation), will be able to vote for candidates for City Council.

Ranked choice is used only for primaries, not general elections; come November, we’ll go back to using traditional, top-choice-only voting.

Instead of choosing only one favorite candidate, voters rank up to five candidates in each race.

If one candidate gets more than 50% of the first-place votes, that person wins. If no candidate reaches that majority, however, instead of an expensive run-off election between the top two vote-getters, the ranked-choice method sorts out the best-preferred candidate for the most people.

If your top pick has the fewest first-choice votes among all voters, that candidate is eliminated from the race, and all of those voters’ second-choice picks are counted up. That process continues, with one candidate removed each round, until one candidate has more than half of the first-place votes. 

Here’s an explanation of that in less than 90 seconds by Minnesota Public Radio.

Remember: the first choice is the candidate you love. Your second choice is the candidate that you like. Your third and fourth choice is the candidate you like slightly less. And your fifth choice is the candidate you can stand.

Heart East Harlem

115 to 123

Metro North is going to be completely replacing the elevated tracks between 115th Street and 123rd Street, starting in about 9 months or a year. However, not only are they going to do this massive task, but they’ll do it while the tracks are in use.

The engineering behind this is all predicated on closing off parts of Park Avenue and side streets and using a massive gantry system to hoist sections of track into place, once new supporting pillars are ready.

The replacement of this section of the elevated track is urgently needed to replace a 130+ year old structure that has far outlasted expectations.

Sugar Hill Arts Festival – Tomorrow!

Click here to learn more:

NY Post Raises Councilmember Jordan’s Council Attendance Record

https://nypost.com/2023/05/03/harlem-pol-richardson-jordan-misses-half-of-council-votes/

The NY Post notes that Councilmember Jordan has missed 46 percent of her council committee and caucus meetings since last year, records show.

She’s been recorded absent 53 times and present 61 times with one entry listed as “conflict” since taking office in January of 2022.

“I wish she would be more active on the committee and the council,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), who chairs the veterans committee.

This year alone, she’s missed five meetings of the Aging Committee she serves on, four Youth Services and Sanitation Committee meetings, two Veterans Affairs Committee meetings and two full Council Committee meetings.

The councilwoman also skipped two meetings of the committees on Civil and Human Rights and Women and Gender Equity.

Richardson Jordan, 36, also was recorded as absent from the Council’s Manhattan delegation meeting on April 27. 

Color Stock Film of Harlem 1963

A shout-out to Harlem Bespoke who mentioned this Pathe 8 minute film of stock images of New York City in 1963:

If you want to focus on the short section on Harlem, scrub over to 5:15 on the YouTube video.

Janes Walk – A Great Day In Harlem

Join members of Landmark East Harlem (LEH) for a walk around a roughly 12-block area that LEH has proposed for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. A residential section with clear borders, it retains much of its original Victorian character, with long rows of Italianate and neo-Grec brownstones punctuated by the spires of neo-Gothic churches. The earliest buildings date to the time when Harlem was a rural village not yet annexed to the City of New York. The area also includes clusters of new-law tenements dating from the turn of the 20th century, ultramodern townhouses, tasteful contemporary conversions, 32 New York City landmarks, and the brownstone stoop that served as the site of Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photo, “A Great Day in Harlem.” A virtual tour will be available at www.landmarkeastharlem.org

05/06/2023 01:00 PM – 02:15 PM

ACCESSIBILITY

Walking around neighborhood, will be slow walking pace and wheelchair access, but uneven surfaces. All of tour takes place on sidewalk.

LOCATION INFORMATION

RSVP is required and capacity is limited. Meeting location, ending location, and directions will be provided via email before walk date.

https://secure.mas.org/eventReg.jsp?event=9885&

https://www.landmarkeastharlem.org/

Harlem’s Worlds Fair, 1883

No, the Harlem World’s Fair did not happen in 1883, nor did it happen at all. But it was proposed in this great illustration from Demarest’s Monthly Magazine, November 1879 (thank you to Harlem Bespoke that originally drew my attention to this image):

The fair would essentially be on the Columbia University land, and stretch from Morningside Park to Riverside Park, and bound on the south side by 110th, and on 125th, on the north.

Note the elevated line entering the frame on the bottom left, on 9th Avenue, then zig zagging to 8th Ave. in the curve of death (a ‘popular’ suicide location before the train was rerouted underground under Central Park West:

In the postcard above, note St.John’s the Devine under the tracks, in the distance – just one arch built.

Stoop Sale On Sunday