Urban Garden Center’s Storage Area

If you recall the fire under the Metro North tracks at 118th Street a few years back, the fire was the result of material that the Urban Garden Center had been storing under the tracks, between 117 and 118th Streets. This photo shows the storage of everything from concrete block, to pallets, to soil, to machinery:

With the forthcoming rebuild of the MTA tracks, all the material has been moved south between 111 and 113th Streets. The space between 117 and 118 is now empty:

The Studio Museum Progresses

After several women came forward with allegations that Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates – the architect behind the new Studio Museum in Harlem – was a serial sexual harrasser, construction has resumed. Adjaye was removed as The Studio Museum of Harlem’s architect of record, and Cooper Robertson & Partners are now serving in that role.

The 125th Street, 82,000-square-foot structure will feature expanded gallery and exhibition space for more than 2,000 objects, multiple lecture halls, a roof deck, a café, and retail space when completed. Construction lulled in 2022, but work has resumed and a 2024 opening has been floated, if optimistic.

Open Streets – August 18th

A Great Day

The 1958 Esquire Magazine photo that started it all:

And with the rise of Hip Hop, XXL Magazine (in 1998) did this riff with Gordon Parks as the photographer:

Unfortunately, an ill-timed shadow marred the photo.

However, fewer people know that Gordon Parks’ also paid homage to the Art Kane 1958 original in 1995.

Parks wanted to reflect on the passing of a jazz generation and managed to get 10 of the 12 remaining musicians from the Art Kane photo to return to East Harlem. Once there, Parks photographed them standing where they had stood in 1958. The boarded-up facade of the now dilapidated brownstone in the image emphasized the absent musicians who had died.

Aria Madness

Music and Mentoring House is presenting a series of Saturday performances:

Lauren Flanigan, Director/Founder


Music and Mentoring House, Inc is a fiscally sponsored project of Black Women Playwrights’ Group. All donation amounts are greatly appreciated and a very important contribution to continuing our efforts to serve artists of all disciplines.  Black Women Playwrights’ Group is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

Colonial Park 1930’s

A view of Colonial Park, now Jackie Robinson Park, from the 155th Street Viaduct. The photo was clearly taken on a wet day, though no one in the photo has an open umbrella.

Note the ubiquitous window awnings to help with the summer sun/heat (pre-air conditioning).

Below is a detail of the park where the pool and bandshell are now located:

5G Towers Coming to Harlem

The city is planning on installing 9 5G towers in Harlem. As you can see on the map below, there will be a cluster near Columbia University, in Central Harlem near Marcus Garvey Park, and a pair in eastern, East Harlem.


Harlem Foundry

A standard tenement entrance on Easts 125th Street:

Notice the cast iron pillar on the right, and the foundry advertising on the pillar’s base:

The address is not one we’d use today:

106 ST ER NY

But the meaning is clear: 106th Street at the East River.

Today the FDR has wiped out any waterside industry that relied on shipping to bring iron, coal, and more.

Housing Lottery

A lottery has opened up for apartments in a new building on East 125th Street, just east of 3rd Avenue (the building spans between 125th and 124th Streets.

The Reserve is a 12-story mixed-use building at 212 East 125th Street in East Harlem, Manhattan. The apartment building has 45 residences. You can apply for 34 of them on NYC Housing Connect.

New Loo Coming to Jefferson Park

The city has contracted to bring ‘Portland Toilets’ to parks with no facilities. The model they’ve gone with has extraordinary durability that can be chalked up to its defense-first design.

“I think one thing we have ahead of other toilet designs is that we’ve learned people like to do nefarious things”

So the Portland Loo includes a variety of bells and whistles meant to keep in check the most degenerate of bathroom users:

• No running water inside: “Some people, if they’re homeless, use a sink to wash their laundry,” says DiBenedetto. So there’s no sink, just a spigot on the outside that pours cold water.

• No mirror: People tend to smash mirrors. Perhaps even more frequently if there’s no running water within reach.

• Bars at the top and bottom of the structure: It may make the water closet look like a cage for a gorilla, but these apertures have critical importance. Cops can peep in near the ground to make sure there’s no more than one set of feet inside. The openings also help sound flow freely, letting pedestrians hear the grunts and splashes of the person inside and the person inside hear the footsteps and conversation of pedestrians. Nobody wants to stick around such a toilet for long.

• A graffiti-proof coating: No one will be tagging this latrine.

• Walls and doors made from heavy-gauge stainless steel: “It’s built with the idea that somebody could take a bat to it,” DiBenedetto says. “And if they did damage it, we could replace that part.”

So far, the most popular activity for malcontents is jamming the flush button, perhaps using some sort of special tool.

These PSYOP-worthy features are outlined in U.S. Patent No. D622,408 S, which Leonard received in the summer of 2010. The toilet has the dubious honor of being the city of Portland’s first patent.

The loo has an annual maintenance fee of $12,000 per commode.

The prospect of Portland Loos appearing on street corners all across America is exciting to DiBenedetto, who’s not just a city-paid promoter of the throne, but a happy user, too.

“Whenever I have friends in the car and we pass by one, it’s like, ‘There’s the loo!'” she says. “It’s cold and really strange inside, and there’s a sense of, ‘Wow, I’m really close to the sidewalk and people can hear me peeing,’ but it’s really cool.”

Highbridge over the Harlem River

A postcard sent in 1908 for one cent.

Uptown, 1842

In 1842, Manhattan (of course) showed settlement down at the tip of the island, and in a few locations northward. In this view, Harlem is the densest settlement north of 59th Street:

Note how West Harlem (Manhattanville, mostly) and East Harlem (then known as just Harlem). were settled, whereas what we call Central Harlem was not yet settled.

How To Build Community

Ballroom and Language

Harlem’s role in the 1970’s ballroom scene and many other earlier iterations of trans expression, is well known. What may not be as well known are the linguistic contributions that originated in this musical/fashion/identity/dance scene.

1988: Drag ball in Harlem, New York City in 1988. © Catherine McGann

Slang words like “shade” — to speak ill of something or someone –- or “werk,” as in “werk it,” or to do something well, both came from this Harlem scene. In addition, popular trans programs and stars – like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – have also been heavily impacted by Harlem ballroom.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/1308748/why-harlem-ballroom-scene-important-black-lantinx-lgbtq-community/

As Seen In East Harlem

Green Thumb Turns 45

Did you know this year is GreenThumb’s 45th Anniversary?

GreenThumb is celebrating 45 years of support for the city’s robust network of community gardens. These gardens have come a long way in 45 years—from turning empty lots into open space in the midst of the city’s worst financial crisis to the thriving spaces New York sees today. In partnership between GreenThumb and thousands of volunteers, the community gardens are stronger than ever and still at the forefront of community activism. They provide health and shade, copious food, music, art, and a feeling of togetherness and a shared mission.

Gardeners show off their cabbages at a garden in Harlem on 128th Street, circa 1980s. 

During this special year, GreenThumb is highlighting community garden contributions and recognizing some longstanding gardens that have been an important part of the New York City landscape. Visit our special 45 Years of GreenThumb page on our website to explore these community gardens and find out how you can get involved!


Free Uptown Shakespeare in the Park: Malvolio
Join the Classical Theatre of Harlem at the historic Mount Morris Park for its summer production, Malvolio. The play—written by Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence Betty Shamieh and directed by Ian Belknap & Ty Jones—is a comedy sequel inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The event is free and open to the public.  8:30 pm