Mount Morris Park 1848

A fascinating map of Mount Morris Park from 1848 is up for sale for $3,400:

This map shows land owned by Samson Adolphus Benson, which extends north of Harlem creek, and south of Kingsbridge Road (all of the detailed blocks on the map are part of this Benson portfolio.

In addition to showing the land that Benson owned and was now selling, the map also shows us 3 Dutch colonial-era roads that are no longer in existence (wiped out by the commissioner’s grid of streets and avenues that we all experience today).

Harlem Lane:

Kingsbridge Road:

and Manhattan Road:

And, of course, Harlem Creek is now long buried and built over:

Lastly, the map indicates what may be build on given lots, and where sales of the properties were conducted:

A Gorgeous Door – Carver Bank on 125th Street

Cast in India

Manhole covers for New York are often labeled as Made In India, creating discordance for anyone looking down and reading.

Few who read the words realize that these manhole covers are hand made artifacts, produced in brutal conditions in small factories in India. The film Cast in India is a fascinating exploration of the process of fabrication:

Watch the whole film, here:

Older manhole covers, of course, are more likely to be American made, or even made here in New York. My favorite is Manhattan Born:

But the oldest one that I know of is in Jefferson Park and was part of the original water supply project of the Croton Aqueduct.


Sometimes you see the weirdest things, Googling “Harlem”.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Harlem!

The Shamrock and Roll festival and golf cart parade will take place in Harlem on Saturday, March 18. (Photo courtesy of Tara McNaylor)

126th Street and Lenox Ave

Looking eastward, from Lenox Avenue along West 126th Street.

And the same view, from 1904, showing a special riveted rectangular water pipe, over the roof of the subway.

And Further West…

The Riverside Drive Viaduct at 125th Street (photographer Berenice Abbott) ~1937

This is Harlem

From 1975, a TV report by Geraldo on Harlem.

A place where most everyone has heard of but where most outsiders have never been. Every urban problem that plagues this country is represented here and you can find it all within a few blocks of this rooftop. Broken families, rampant street crime, the worst housing this side of Calcutta, alcoholism, street gangs, and the worst plague of them all drug addiction. Come with us as we take a look at the streets of Harlem.

Good Night America: Season: 2, #13 Episode; Air Date: January 23rd, 1975

Does Your Water Taste Weird?

It’s likely you’re noticing NYC tap water tasting differently this week: As of Monday, the Department of Environmental Protection increased water coming from reservoirs in Westchester and Putnam counties, and different systems mean the potential for different tastes, officials told NBC News. The change in water systems is part of a plan to repair leaks in the Delaware aqueduct, and the system is shut down until March 19, according to the DEP.

25th Precinct Meeting – Wednesday, March 15th, 6:00 PM

Kioka Jackson, the 25th Precinct Community Council president writes:

Good Morning All,

Happy belated International Women’s Day to all the amazing women in our community.  I hope you spent yesterday celebrating your awesomeness. 

It is my hope that everyone is doing well.  I just wanted to remind you all that our next 25th Precinct Council meeting is coming up.  

As promised, I invited a few guests to help discuss our concerns.  We have NYPD Chief Chell and Chief Obe joining us for this meeting.  

As a reminder, please use the link below to send in your concerns.  We will be using the information in the link to prep our guests so that they are aware of what information to be equipped with.  

All questions and concerns will be read and we apologize in advance that everyone may not get to speak publicly but if you send us your concerns we will do our best to address them.  

We ask that – if it is something that you expressed in a previous meeting that we make room for questions on new concerns.  I promise you that notes were taken and we are doing our best to address everything.  For instance we have submitted to CB11 and the Manhattan Borough President’s office Camera requests, Lighting etc…..  We got you!!! Trust me!

Because of the large number of people we are asking elected officials and CBOs to send their flyers to me so that we can include them on the PowerPoint.  You must let us know in advance that you would like to make an announcement so that we can include you on the agenda.  

We are looking forward to having a working conversation and sharing our voices about the needs of our community.

See you guys there.  

Not 129, But…

A great photo of Harlem from 1946. Note how few trees there are on the streetscape:

The text on the back claims it’s on 129th Street, but the distinctive porches on the right (south) side are unequivocally Astor Row (West 130th Street).

It’s interesting to compare the tree cover 75 years later:

However, the text on the back of the photo shows that housing has (for generations) been a significant concern in New York City. The photo is up for sale on Ebay:

Meet Al Taylor, Tonight

Tonight at 7pm, please join our 1-on-1 discussion with Assembly Member Al Taylor who is running for City Council in District 9. He is trying to unseat incumbent Kristin Jordan and compete with Inez Dickens. This is also an excellent chance to advocate for safety, sanitation, and economic development for our district to an elected official. 

Register for the zoom call here.

Al currently serves as an Assembly Member of district 71, Inwood, Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights. In this district, he has worked on youth gun violence issues in NYCHA housing. Interesting to note that Al is a minister and he has voted against access to abortion and against LGBQT rights.

3rd Avenue Market?

When looking in an early 20th century street car, bus, and subway index to New York City streets, this popped up:

indicating that there was a market at Third Avenue and 129th Streets – where the large sports fields are and where the traffic from the 3rd Avenue Bridge gets routed to East 129th Street or 2nd Avenue.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any images or information on this market. If you have any information about this market, please put it in the comments section.

As Seen In Harlem

Sojourner Truth on 117th Street.


Three decades after legislation pushed for the return of Native American remains to Indigenous communities, many of the nation’s top museums and universities still have the remains of thousands of people in their collections.

ProPublica has a fascinating project to map any remains of indigenous first peoples. It’s amazing to see the numbers:

And the map of the issue:

The reason this is appearing here, in a blog on Harlem is that we too have indigenous first-peoples’ remains held here in Harlem:

Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology has acknowledged 14 Native American remains. All 14 come from North Dakota:

To see the full map, and learn more about the project, see:

The Harlem Riots As Seen Through Nazi Eyes

Ebay has/had and interesting photo of La Guardia and two police officials taken by a Life photographer in December 1943 up for sale in Europe. The photo is not particularly flattering for La Guardia, who is seen as significantly shorter than the two police officials who virtually crowd him as he leans against and wraps his arms around a banister.

If it weren’t for the somewhat bemused look on one of the police official’s face and the casual arms behind the back of the other, this might appear to be a photo of an arrested and cornered man.

(Note the foreground rifle, presumably whitened by the powerful flash and held by an officer).

And, as interesting as the photo is, it’s the back of the photo and the pasted, typewritten text which really stands out.

The text is in Geman and titled “Freedom from Want”. After transcribing it, running my transcription through a German spell check, and then using a Google German>English translation tool, I was able to come up with this text:

This picture from the American magazine “Life” shows the Mayor of New York La Guardia in a New York police station, during the food riots in Harlem, New York’s Negro district. He orders more food to be brought to the starving Negro district to fight the riots . While Roosevelt, as one of the Four Freedoms, promises the rest of the world “freedom from want” in the event of an American victory, the mayor of his country’s largest city has ordered welfare measures for its own starving population. Make the world see how freedom from want should, in reality, be laughed at. 22/14/1943

Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers were, of course, at war with the U.S. since December 1941. The text on the back of the photo (which presumably accompanied the photo in an article in a war-era German newspaper or magazine), sought to highlight the poor model that America presented to the world when racism and discrimination continued to undermine the internationally/publically espoused ideals of the United States.

Paris in Harlem!

The images speak for themselves. Burlesque, 5x a month in 1932:

56 Years Ago (today)

56 years ago today, Mayor John Lindsay vowed to revitalize Mount Morris Park (soon to be renamed Marcus Garvey Park) . The west side of the park looked like this (image looking northbound towards the corner of Mount Morris West and West 124th Street):

Mayor Lindsay vowed to revitalize and announced the project with a billboard:

The result was the amphitheater and the pool. Perhaps most dramatically was Mayor Lindsay arriving at the park by helicopter, and landing on the acropolis:

The Night Never Ends in Harlem

Zoe Anderson Norris

Recently a New York historian – Eve Kahn – reached out to residents on East 126th Street regarding a former resident from the block – the reformer/publisher/writer Zoe Anderson Norris (1860-1914).

Zoe Anderson Norris lived at 57 East 126th Street around the turn of the 20th century.  In addition, as an author, Zoe would write about and describe her life on East 126th Street, including her view of rose gardens out the back window and the sound of nearby church bells (most likely St. James).

On either side were other back yards of the same shape and pattern, better tended, being private back yards, the roses held primly against the wall by strings. Further on yet rose the rear of a church, covered with vines, the tinkle of whose chimes told the half hours and the quarters

Eve Kahn is putting together an exhibition on Zoe Anderson Norris, which coincides with Women’s History Month.

The exhibition is open 10-7 weekdays and 10-5 on Saturdays, March 1-May 13.  All are welcome to attend the March 1st opening

These links are about a few of Zoe’s many interesting friends!

She said Zoe was a strong willed woman, believed in God in her own way.  Eve Kahn said she’s thrilled to learn that Zoe’s former house is still full of empowerment and rejoicing!

Black Minds. Black Creativity.

Alice H. Walker was working as a cook in New Jersey in 1919 when she patented a central heating system that led to the creation of modern home heating systems used across the globe.

Garrett Morgan, the son of formerly enslaved parents, had only an elementary school education when he created the stoplight that is still used at intersections today.

Mark Dean led the team of computer scientists at IBM who invented color computer monitors—the technology that allowed for modern computers and smartphones.

Valerie Thomas is the NASA physicist who invented a transmitter in 1980 that could project 3D images onto a screen, thus paving the way for the 3D movies playing in theaters today.

And in 2020, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett became the lead scientist at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center. Her work led to the creation of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.