Ancient Greek stone architecture with its bleached symmetry and powerful ornamentation often looks as though it’s survived for more than 2,000 years simply through force of presence. A closer look, however, at the stones that make up classic Greek architecture reveals curious channels and depressions inside the centers of the stones that were carved to make up columns.

As the Smithsonian Magazine notes:

When the current restoration [of the Parthenon] began in 1975, backed by $23 million from the Greek government, the project’s directors believed they could finish in ten years. But unforeseen problems arose as soon as workers started disassembling the temples. For example, the ancient Greek builders had secured the marble blocks together with iron clamps fitted in carefully carved grooves. They then poured molten lead over the joints to cushion them from seismic shocks and protect the clamps from corrosion. But when a Greek architect, Nikolas Balanos, launched an enthusiastic campaign of restorations in 1898, he installed crude iron clamps, indiscriminately fastening one block to another and neglecting to add the lead coating. Rain soon began to play havoc with the new clamps, swelling the iron and cracking the marble. Less than a century later, it wasclear that parts of the Parthenon were in imminent danger of collapse.

The use of lead to hold iron in stone persisted in Harlem through the early 20th Century. The former All Saints Church at 129th and Madison is surrounded by a substantial iron fence – mostly to protect pedestrians from falling into the moat-like window well that permits sunlight to enter the basement level of the building.

A close look at the fence (embedded in limestone kerbs) shows that the builders of All Saints understood the peril of embedding iron in stone. (The danger is mostly in the process of oxidization, or rusting, which swells larger than the original iron with pressures that can split the stone while simultaneously rotting the iron.)

In the image above and below you can see the grey/white lead (think of the paint color – now not made because of its toxicity – lead white, which was made from oxidized lead…) around the iron fence vertical – which is itself rusting, but not splitting the soft limestone in which it is placed.

Today, quality contemporary construction embeds a non-ferrous vertical rod (typically aluminum) in the ground/support and then joins the ferrous fence (steel, now, not iron) which remains susceptible to rusting over the decades, to the aluminum post.

The example, below, shows the Choir Academy school’s fence, steel attached to embedded aluminum.

70’s Nostalgia

Classic TV commercials from the 70’s

Join Your Community Board Meetings

CB10 and CB11 Human Services and Public Safety committees meet on a monthly basis and regularly cover topics related to #FairShare4Harlem. Join to share your voice

Meetings next week:

CB10 Health + Human Services, Mon. Jan. 17 @ 6:30
CB10 Public Safety, Tuesday, Wed. Jan. 19 @ 6:30

Upcoming meetings:

CB11 Human Services, Mon. Feb. 7 @ 6:00
CB11 Public Safety + Transportation, Tues. Feb. 8 @ 6:30Find your Community Board. Have events to add? Email us.

Your Voice

New York State and New York City politicians can’t read your mind. If you want change in the community, then here’s your chance to speak to Albany or speak to City Hall.

Please reach out to: GreaterHarlem.nyc/Volunteer to learn more and connect with other neighbors who want #FairShare4Harlem

Harlem Academy’s New Building

Harlem Academy has a new main campus at 655 St. Nicholas – just below 145th Street.

The brick building is 5 stories tall, and replaces 3 previous locations into one consolidated whole. ’s permanent new home is now complete and officially open at 655 St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood. The five-story building unifies the school’s operations and classroom facilities, which were previously scattered across three rented, non-contiguous storefronts.

Harlem Academy was originally founded in 2004 and serves students in grades one through eight. As of last year, the school’s population was capped at 125 students.

The new building will allow the academy to double its enrollment of students from Harlem.

Single Seniors

How Calculated: Percent of people aged 65 and older living alone

Source: American Community Survey

A Rare Off-Grid Manhattan Street

Sylvan Court, which has seven properties, rarely sees properties record for sale.

A 1,600-square-foot townhouse in East Harlem returned for sale asking $1.69 million.

Its address is 2 Sylvan Court — a blind alley with just seven homes that’s located off East 121st Street between Lexington and Third avenues. Sales there are far from common, with just one deal recorded since 2017 — that one being for this home, which traded hands for $1.32 million late that year. Before that, the most recent home on Sylvan Court, at No. 4, sold in 2011. 

Vaccine Pop-up On Friday

Randall’s and Wards’ Islands

This photo of Randall’s and Wards’ Islands during the depression (just after the Triborough Bridge was completed by Robert Moses) is fascinating in the ways in which you can see how dramatically the bridge, the island/s, and Harlem have changed in the last 80 years or so.

Note how recently constructed Astoria park (between the arched train bridge and the car bridge on the right hand side) is so new there are no trees and seemingly no grass – just the white reflection of bulldozed dirt.

Above you can see (at the bottom right) the new sewage disposal facility – state of the art in the 1930s, and still the place where everything you flush goes today in 2021.

Also (still in the photo above) note how distinctly Wards Island (below) and Randall’s Island (above) are separated. The 3rd island (top right) is now also joined to the other two, and the fill was leveled to create a series of sports fields and a tennis center.

In the blurry photo above, you can see how the Harlem waterfront (on the East River) had a number of working docks. Also the scraped dirt (white) area in the middle of the photo with a running track, is Jefferson Park – a park created by Moses by bulldozing a number of city blocks – mostly filled with East Harlem Italian residents.

In the photo above – showing the Triborough from 125th Street to Randall’s Island, note just above it, the swing-gate for the Willis Avenue bridge is open to boat traffic, and just above that (black and admittedly blurry) is the 2nd Avenue El, headed from Manhattan, over the Harlem River, and into the Bronx.

The Stadium (above) is where Jesse Owens qualified for the Berlin Olympics, and is now the Icahn Stadium and the site of numerous music festivals.

Lastly, take a look at the traffic on the vehicular bridge. Amazing.

Kristin Jordan Does Not Vote for Adrienne Adams, the First-Ever, Black NY City Council Speaker

Adrienne Adams, the new City Council Speaker of New York City

In one of her first acts as a city council representative, Kristin Jordan was one of only 2 city council members who did not vote for Adrienne Adams the first Black City Council Speaker in the history of New York City. Jordan was one of only two colleagues to vote against Adrienne Adams.

In her speech, Adrienne Adams singled out the impact that two Harlem legends had on her and on all African Americans fighting for change and justice in America:

One of my mentors is in the room this afternoon: the pioneer who paved the way for me and so many other African American women to both lead and succeed, the one and only Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference.

Next to her I want to acknowledge another mentor, someone who has been a stalwart for change and justice in New York City, the Reverend Al Sharpton. I am a proud member of the National Action Network and grateful for his leadership over the years.

You can read Adrienne Adams speech, here:

Winter’s Here

And with the weather, here is a great 19th-century image of a Harlem scene.

125th Street Redesign

Transportation Alternatives is floating an idea on how to address the endemic double parking on 125th Street that effectively blocks bus traffic, forcing busses to veer into traffic lanes, causing more congestion and slowdowns.

The proposal is to take the bus lanes which are located on the edges of the street, and instead put them in the center of the road.

Bus lanes ensure that disproportionately low-income and BIPOC bus riders aren’t stuck in the traffic created by private vehicles. They propose the city install center-running bus lanes to minimize double parking and delays by private vehicles, and allow for a cycle track.

They also propose more greenery to combat high pollution and asthma in our community. In times of extreme weather, trees increase a city’s resiliency. During summer heat, their shade can lower surface temperatures by up to 20°C, and during heavy rain, a single street tree can reduce runoff by around 60 percent. Throughout the year, they also clean the air: one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually.

Lastly, parking spaces for bicycles along 125th street can combine waste receptacles as well as secure bike parking. Moving trash from piles on the sidewalk to sturdy containers in the street will increase pedestrian space, ease the work of sanitation workers, and reduce rat populations while creating secure bike parking will expand access and reduce maintenance costs for bike owners.

To see an interactive version of the plan:


To see the comments made by Harlem residents on the plan/idea, see:


Meanwhile, Kristin Richardson Jordan is quoted by Patch.com as saying:

she supported measures to reduce congestion on 125th Street, pointing to her campaign materials calling for “a solution that helps move people, busses, taxis, and bicycles faster and safer.”

Kristin Jordan Interviewed by Patch

Our new council member talks about her goal to preserve the Black plurality of Harlem, her concern that Eric Adams is trying to be a one-man show, and sanitation issues:

Read the full interview by Nick Garber, here:


As Seen at Pleasant Village Community Garden

Councilwoman Kristin Jordan Protests Proposed Civil Rights Museum and Headquarters For The National Action Network


City Councilwoman Kristin Richardson Jordan, and concerned residents of central Harlem, will lead a protest on Monday January 3, 2022 to fight against the “One45” development, proposed for the corner of Lenox avenue and West 145th street. The proposal to construct two 363-foot-tall towers, a civil rights museum and new headquarters for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, has been met with much scrutiny from local residents who feel developer Bruce Teitelbaum, and all other profiting parties, have not adequately engaged or even considered the voices of the majority black neighborhood.

Central Harlem has experienced deep gentrification in the last few decades, which is only rapidly increasing. Newly released census data revealed that Harlem gained more than 18,000 white residents since 2010, while losing more than 10,000 Black residents. According to Councilwoman Richardson Jordan, “Harlem is not for sale” and the One45 development has the intent and effect of further harming and displacing the community she represents. As a third generation Harlemite, the Councilwoman has promised to fight against the displacement of Black and Brown people in her district and the erasure of Harlem’s rich Black heritage, culture and radical tradition. “We cannot sacrifice the lives of humans for the sake of a museum and unaffordable luxury living for the privileged few. We need to prioritize the lives of our fellow Harlemites”, she states. 

The project, pictured below, would include 900+ apartments – including up to 282 units set aside as affordable – in addition to the museum and NAN headquarters.

How To Eat Your Way Through Black Owned- Harlem

Travel Noire has a tight summary of some wonderful Black-owned eating and drinking establishments in Harlem. Have a look, see which ones you can check-off, and put the rest on your bucket list for 2022:


Kristin Richardson Jordan Represents Harlem

Kristin Jordan replaces Bill Perkins as Harlem’s New City Council member.

New Building Coming to 120/Park

YIMBY reports that a new residential tower will be built on a vacant lot at the corner of 120/Park with 57 residences:

Affordable Elder Housing

A new development at Park/110th Street is currently being planned. The Carmen Villegas Apartments will be a new mixed-use affordable elder housing building and house hundreds of seniors.

The adjacent Casita Park Apartments built in 2003 have an unused parking lot at the corner of Park/110th which will now be repurposed for the Carmen Villegas Apartments.

The new building, designed by Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP) and Terrain, will create new affordable housing, commercial/retail space, and community facility space. The project will serve low-income residents over the age of 62 and will be affirming to the LGBTQ+ population. It will also meet stringent standards for energy efficiency, sustainability, and resiliency.

The Carmen Villegas Apartments will set a new standard for non-profit affordable housing in the neighborhood and the city. It will be a model of design excellence, green and resilient building, and resident- and community-centered development.  The Public Art Initiative (#ArtatAscendant) will commission public art for the Carmen Villegas Apartments project that will highlight and honor the eponymous Ms. Villegas’ contributions to the East Harlem community.

2021 > 2022