Over the last 5 years, The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association has taken on a number of issues (large and small) to improve the quality of life for residents in the East Harlem Triangle.
One small, but significant victory was the result of collaboration with neighborhood parents and schools to persuade the Department of Education to move the fence on IS 201 out from the school’s core, in order to eliminate the homeless encampments that children and their parents had to navigate around in order to attend school. In addition, children attending IS 201 have also benefited from a larger safe space for recess and after-school play.
For years now the gorgeously renovated Corn Exchange Building at Park/125 has been sitting empty (except, of course, for the amazing Ginjan Cafe! which occupies part of the street-level corner). Recently, a new pitch is being made (presumably to commuters on Metro-North trains coming into the city) as seen in the new ad – high up on the back of the building:
It looks like a collection of nuclear cooling towers, suddenly plopped into Harlem, but June Jordan’s plan for a redevelopment of Harlem in the early 1960s was for a collection of conical high rises:
Esquire Magazine had the (above layout) which was recently featured in an article in The New Yorker.
The conical towers would have concentrated a huge number of residents in towers that would have dwarfed even the larger Harlem and East Harlem projects that you can see in the image (above).
June Jordan (the architect pictured above), sought to throw:
herself into what she called “a collaborative architectural redesign of Harlem,” in which she joined forces with the architect R. Buckminster Fuller, champion of the geodesic dome. Jordan and Fuller called their collaboration “Skyrise for Harlem”: a plan for public housing that was attuned to the well-being of two hundred and fifty thousand of the neighborhood’s residents, most of them Black. The project may have seemed a left turn for Jordan, who came to prominence through her essays and poetry. But she had always conceived of her work as falling under the umbrella of environmental design—“that is,” she explained, “in general, an effort to contribute to the positive changing of the world.”
Note the scale of the brownstones and tenaments below one of the towers, sectionally represented.
Jordan believed that the grid pattern was responsible for high crime rates, and that The Commissioners’ Plan was “pathological crucification.” [Fish, C. (2007). Place, Emotion, and Environmental Justice in Harlem: June Jordan and Buckminster Fuller’s 1965 “Architextual” Collaboration. Discourse].
Fuller and Jordan’s “Skyrise” never made it off the pages of Esquire. The ARCH plan for the East Harlem Triangle was never adopted, though Goldstein argues that it did lead the way for residents to build “a social service center and hundreds of affordable housing units in the following years.” Without any radical reconstruction, most of Harlem foundered, the area’s real estate prices plummeting in the 1970s as in so many other economically disadvantaged neighborhoods across the five boroughs. In the 1980s, gentrification tentatively arrived in Harlem, mostly by way of middle-class black residents who, as Monique M. Taylor writes in “Can You Go Home Again? Black Gentrification and the Dilemma of Difference,” were looking for “real estate bargains” while also being “strongly motivated by a desire to participate in the rituals that define daily life in this (in)famous and historically black community.
You may recognize this vacant lot, church, and new rental building on W. 127, just behind the Collier Brother’s Park:
The church ‘grew’. The two brownstones to the right were knocked down and the decades-old vacant lot is where the new rental is located. The Victorian framed home to the left in the photo below is where the vacant space next to the church is now:
Here are 3 great photos of Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park) from Columbia University’s collection of images.
Below is a postcard from 1905 on the east side of the park, looking south towards where the basketball courts are today:
Mount Morris Park was renamed in honor of Marcus Garvey in 1973, the park was built largely as a green space for Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall cronies, many of whom lived uptown by the 1860s.
Below is a postcard sent in 1916 after an ocean voyage:
The land for the park had been purchased by the city in 1839, but landscaping was long delayed. Its design was eventually supervised by Ignaz A. Pilat, who would later serve as an able associate of Frederick Law Olmsted during the creation of Central Park.
This final image is of the bandstand, and was sent in 1907:
The National Urban League is moving along with planning for a 17-story project that will include affordable rental housing, a civil rights museum, office space for community groups, retail space, and their headquarters/conference.
The development, known as the Urban League Empowerment Center, will replace a low-slung retail building at 121 West 125th Street and a four-story parking garage that fronts the north side of the lot on West 126th Street. It will also rise next to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building.
Beginning Wednesday, August 5, MTA New York City Transit will provide new overnight bus service for customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and between Manhattan and the Bronx. The new M99 will operate run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between East New York in Brooklyn and the West 42nd Street pier in Manhattan. The new Bx99 will run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between Woodlawn in the Bronx and the West Village serving the east and west sides of Manhattan, crossing Midtown along 57th Street. Please visit mta.info/overnight for more information and use the MyMTA app or call 511 to plan your trip.