Racism has determined where people live since colonial times

Racism has always played a role in residential patterns in New York City. When New York City was a Dutch colony, it was just the southern tip of Manhattan. Wall Street got its name from the city’s protective wall.

In 1661, when Black people petitioned the colony for land in the area, they were given land north of the wall, outside of the city proper.

Throughout history, many different practices have shaped racial and residential patterns in New York City. In the 20th century, a practice called redlining made racism a federal policy – with long-lasting repercussions for our housing and our health.

Federal policy drove residential segregation.

In the 1930s, the federal government developed color-coded maps to guide loans to potential home buyers in cities across the U.S.

On these color-coded maps, neighborhoods were divided into 4 categories:

  •  Best
  •  Still desirable
  •  Definitely declining
  •  Hazardous

This classification was clearly rooted in racism, since neighborhood descriptions included statements like:

“Detrimental influences: Infiltration of Negroes. Mixed races.”

The government denied loans to Black and Latino people trying to buy homes in redlined neighborhoods. Instead, these resources went to new White-only suburban communities.

The map below shows how New York City’s neighborhoods were categorized.

This was redlining.

This process became known as “redlining:” systematically denying public and private resources based on where people live, targeting people of color.

Redlining helped drive urban segregation in the 20th century, as new neighborhoods were built for white people while people of color were forced into neighborhoods declared to be “declining.”

Since home ownership is an important way to accrue wealth, redlining drove economic inequality, too – by denying people of color the same opportunities for home ownership that white people had.

East Harlem’s Union Settlement Sues NYC’s Department Of Education

From: Harlem World Magazine

Union Settlement, one of the largest nonprofit early childhood education providers in New York City.

Announced today that it is suing the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to reverse a flawed contract award process that is having a severe adverse impact on young children in East Harlem, as well as their parents and the small businesses that provide early childhood services.

In 2019, DOE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify organizations to provide early childhood education services throughout New York City.

This included proposals for organizations to operate Family Child Care Networks (FCCNs), which are networks of individuals and small businesses providing child care services in their homes.

Union Settlement has overseen an FCCN for decades, and offered to continue operating that program, overseeing a network of providers serving children ages six weeks old to four years old, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday, 12 months per year (referred to as “extended day/year” services).

Contrary to the terms of the RFP, DOE instead awarded Union Settlement a contract to serve only 3-year-olds, only until 2:30 p.m. each day, and only during the school year (referred to as “school day/year” services).

This violation of the RFP process harms children, families and providers in six different ways:

  • Children make deep connections with caregivers, and are harmed by continuing changes in caregivers.  Allowing FCCN providers to serve children ages from 6 weeks old to 4 years old creates a multi-year period for the child to be with the same early childhood educator, rather than having one individual up to age 3, another at age 3, and another at age 4.
  • Working parents – particularly single parents – need full-day care for their children and need care 12 months per year.  The “school day/year” model does not work for these parents because they have to make alternative arrangements for their children in the afterschool hours, as well as in July, August and during school holidays.
  • School day/year services are also harmful to children, who as noted above benefit greatly by making strong connections with their caregivers, rather than having to transition to someone new every afternoon and during the summer months.
  • The FCCN providers are small businesses offering early childhood education services in their homes. To be financially viable, those small businesses need to take care of children for the entire day, and they cannot afford to shut down their businesses for two months in the summer, and during the many school holidays.
  • Allowing FCCN providers to care for children from 6 weeks to four years old creates a continuum of care not just for the children, but for the providers as well.  Limiting care to just 3-year-olds forces FCCN providers to recruit an entirely new set of children every year, which again undercuts the financial viability of their businesses.
  • Finally, while providers in wealthier neighborhoods can keep their businesses open by bringing in “private pay” children from wealthier families, this is not an option for FCCN providers in low-income communities of color like East Harlem, where most families do not have the financial means to do so.

The process that DOE used to make the FCCN awards violated the clear language of the rules set forth in the RFP, and Union Settlement has made multiple efforts over the past year to resolve this matter, including proposing resolutions that would eliminate all of the harms noted above, without imposing any additional costs on DOE.

Those efforts were unsuccessful, and Union Settlement has now been forced to sue DOE to prevent these harms from occurring.

“I simply do not understand why DOE wants to force litigation in this matter, where the flaws in the decision-making process are so clear, and there is an easy resolution that benefits the children, families, and caregivers, and that costs DOE nothing,” said David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement.  “I hope that Chancellor Meisha Porter, who was not involved in the original decisions, will take a hard look at this and decide to take action to benefit the children, families and small businesses here in East Harlem.”

“Our goal is to prepare community members to establish and run their own home-based child care businesses which provide a safe and caring learning environment for children,” said Denise Ramos, Union Settlement’s Interim Director of Early Childhood Education. “My heart goes out to the providers, parents, and children who are caught in the middle of this unfair situation that can be easily remedied without cost to DOE.”

“I only have one child enrolled in my program and I usually have six to seven kids.  I am struggling to pay my monthly rent of $3,800, and I was recently served a court order due to my inability to pay because my income is reduced,” said Maria Martinez, a Family Child Care Network provider. “I have successfully operated my child care business for 16 years which allowed me to provide for myself and my sons.  If the DOE does not change the award so I’m able to enroll more children, I will be forced to close my child care business.”

“I am worried about losing my job in retail because I am only able to work limited hours because I don’t have anyone to care for my son after 2:30pm,” said Wendy Diaz, an East Harlem parent.  “As a single mom, I can’t afford to pay the provider out-of-pocket and don’t have anyone else to take care of my son in the afternoons or during the summer when no care is available.”

“DOE’s failure to amend the award is adversely impacting East Harlem, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York, as it tries to overcome the longstanding health and economic disparities it has always faced, and that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Nocenti. “Amending the award will benefit East Harlem children and parents, because this community needs extended-day, extended-year care for children of all ages, and also will benefit the FCCN providers, who need to stay solvent and feed their own families.”

Union Settlement is an on-the-ground resource for East Harlem residents of all ages, and a passionate advocate for the needs of underserved communities.

Established in 1895, Union Settlement provides a broad array of education, wellness and community-building programs to over 10,000 East Harlem residents each year, including early childhood education, afterschool and summer youth programs, college preparation, job readiness, English language classes, behavioral health counseling, small business assistance, senior centers, Meals on Wheels and more.

For more information about Union Settlement, visit www.unionsettlement.org.

West 132 to be Named After Evelyn Thomas

On Saturday, July 17, 2021 @ 12:30pm join the American Legion Post #398 of New York in co-naming West 132 Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd and Frederick Douglass Blvd. This initiative by the Neighbors United of West 132 Street Block Association (or NUW 132) recently received the go-ahead from the City to co-name the block in honor of Evelyn Thomas, a longtime resident of W132 St who successfully fought back against the Urban Renewal Programs of Robert Moses, providing those who lived in the four-story brownstones on W132 St to remain in their homes, and allowing all of us residents of W132 St to live here now.

Please join your neighbors and attend the street co-naming ceremony to learn more about why the street will be co-named after this important local historical figure.

Cornerstone on West 129th Street

A truncated cornerstone on West 129th Street near ACP

An Op Ed in the Daily News on Harlem and Oversaturation

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-harlem-is-overdosing-on-methadone-20210716-d3634ejjbredphqobz5d3e3jhq-story.html

LGA in East Harlem

La Guardia’s Apartment, before he moved to Gracie Mansion, was located on 5th Avenue at 109. Today his view would have been something like this:

A contemporary real estate site describes the location in this way:

Description

1274 Fifth is a six-story building, built in 1934, along the fabulous 50-block stretch of Fifth Avenue above 109th Street, offering gorgeous pre-war architecture, unprecedented space, and beautiful natural light. This pet-friendly building is steps from Central Park and has an on-site super.

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Building Amenities

  • Pre War
  • Washer/Dryer in building
  • Elevator
  • Mail Room
  • Laundry Room
  • Live-In Superintendent

LaGuardia lived in an apartment in this East Harlem building, which sits on the corner of East 109th Street, when he was elected mayor in 1934. Robert Moses offered a move to Gracie Mansion, but LaGuardia decided to stay in his apartment for another eight years before finally moving to the East River.

Harlem, as the Sum of Its Residents

1936

In 1936, on this day, Jesse Owens qualified for the US Olympic team, running the 100 m trial in 10.4 seconds (note the Ohio top).

He also jumped 26′ 3″ in the broad jump, and set a world record for the 200 m race – 21 seconds.

What few people know, is that this qualification and his world record, were all done on Randall’s Island in the stadium. It was in East Harlem that Jesse Owens qualified for the 1936 Berlin Games.

A month later, in Berlin, Jesse would win 4 gold medals and destroy Hitler’s dream of using the olympics to showcase white/Aryan superiority.

A Raised Bed and Birdhouse

As seen near Taino Towers

Black Women Bicycling

Photo: Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, 1928. Addison Scurlock, photographer. Photographcourtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

NMAAHC historian, Marya McQuirter, uncovered this amazing story about five black women who biked cross-country in the mid-1900s while working on her PhD dissertation. 

Nearly 87 years ago, five friends; Marylou JacksonVelva JacksonEthyl MillerLeolya Nelson and Constance White biked from New York to Washington, DC during Easter weekend. 

In 1928, these five black women biked over 250 miles in three days — an unusual feat for black women at the time. They started out on the morning of Good Friday in Manhattan, where they all lived, and biked 100 miles (a century in bike terms) to Philadelphia. They spent the night at the Philadelphia Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). On Saturday morning, they biked 40 miles to Wilmington, where they spent the night, and on the morning of Easter Sunday, they arrived at the nation’s capital. While in DC, they did some sightseeing on the National Mall and at Howard University. And they also posed for the above photograph in front of the Washington Tribune newspaper building at 922 U Street, NW. Addison Scurlock, founder and owner of the popular Scurlock Studio, was the photographer. Scurlock was known for documenting the life of African Americans in the nation’s capital.  

To learn about the history of the Scurlock Studio, check out the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s exhibit, The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise.

image

Photo: “Phillis Wheatley YWCA” by AgnosticPreachersKid – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

They spent the night at the Phillis Wheatley YWCA at 901 Rhode Island Ave, NW. The next day they returned to Manhattan via train.  

These women made a conscious decisions to master one of the 19th century’s foremost technological advances for pleasure, mobility, sport and visibility.

I’ve collected some quotes from the cyclists about their journey: 

  • On pleasure: when asked why they took the trip, they responded that it was for the “love of the great out-of doors.”
  • On mobility:  they chose the bicycle as their vehicle for traveling ‘down south’ at the same time that when women, men and children were fleeing the south to escape white terror
  • On sports:  they challenged women 21 years and older to replicate their trip in less time
  • On visibility:  they wanted their feat to be shared with the masses, hence securing features in the Baltimore Afro-American, the New York Age and the Washington Tribune newspapers.

And to this latter point, they weren’t the only ones. I have found dozens of examples of other black women with bicycles who have sought visibility, whether through studio portraits, family photographs, publicity shots, vacation pictures and more.  

image

Photo:Howard University coeds use bicycles to teach elementary school students how to calculate the circumference of a circle. c. 1930s Addison Scurlock, photographer. Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

I have been inspired by the 5 cyclists to share the larger story of individuals who mobilized multiple technologies—bicycles and photography—for their own needs. To that end, I am curating a book of historical photographs of black women and bicycles, from the 1880s to the present.

Written by Marya McQuirter., Historian, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

APPLY NOW APPLY APPLY NOW FREE AIR-CONDITIONERS 

CALL  212-331-3126 for immediate assistance to have your AC installed 
Priority given to residents who have one or more of these risk factors: 

Chronic health conditions including:
◻ Cardiovascular or respiratory disease
◻ Obesity (BMI > 30) 
◻ Diabetes 
◻ Chronic mental illness 
◻ Cognitive or developmental disorder

Have difficulty thermoregulating
◻ Diuretics 
◻ Anticholinergics 
◻ Neuroleptics 
◻ Drug or alcohol misuse 
◻ Socially isolated or with limited mobility
CASH ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE; 
Applicants who meet income requirements, receive SNAP benefits, or other criteria can apply for cash payments from the NY State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to purchase and install an air conditioner. These are available now until August 31, 2021.Applications can be printed or will be mailed to the person. Completed applications must be mailed to NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA). At this time, HEAP funds cannot be used to pay electric utility costs.
CALL  212-331-3126 
for immediate assistance 
to have your AC installed 

YOU CAN HELP BY: 
✓Encouraging heat-vulnerable people without air conditioners to call 311 or the HEAP Conference Line at 212-331-3126 to ask for a HEAP cooling assistance application.

The application can also be downloaded at: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/energy-assistance.page.

✓Provide the required written documentation of increased risk for heat-related illness due to a medical or psychiatric condition or use of medications that increases risk. CALL  212-331-3126 
for immediate assistance 
to have your AC installed 
For Additional Assistance

March for Homeless Rights

The Lee Building

Founded in 1900, Lee Brothers Storage & Van Co. – a furniture, storage, and moving company – was initially located on 125th Street near 3rd avenue.

In 1913 they moved to the northeast corner of 125th Street and Park Ave. into a building they did not build but leased. However, after 9 years in 1922 they purchased the building at 125th St. and Park Ave. which would henceforth bare the name “The Lee Building”.

In 1925 two stories in the New York Times described the sale of this same building:

“The most interesting transaction in a great many years in Harlem has just been closed. It involves the sale of the Lee Building on the northeast corner of Park Avenue and 125th Street. This is a twelve-story fireproof office and warehouse building on plot 90 by 100. … The Lee Building was originally owned by the Pittsburgh Life Insurance Company who, in 1913, leased it for twenty-one years to Lee Brothers Storage and Warehouse Company, a young and growing concern. On the failure of the Pittsburgh Life Insurance Company, this property, among other assets, was taken over by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, who, in 1922, sold to Lee Brothers. Originally the building was almost entirely used for furniture storage, but gradually Lee Brothers have converted about a third into offices, with retail stores on the ground floor. …” (NYT 3 May 1925, pg. RE17).

“A syndicate represented by Robert B. Bowler bought from Lee Brothers the twelve-story structure at the northeast corner of 125th Street and Park Avenue, opposite the Harlem station of the New York Central. … The sellers are furniture dealers, who occupy the lower section of the building. They purchased the property in March, 1922… It was built by the Hamilton Storage Company and was later converted into offices.” (NYT 9 August 1925, pg. 40).

The Lee company also built a “beautifully detailed, classically inspired building, erected in 1929, (that) was designed as a furniture warehouse and has remained just that. … The warehouse was originally built and owned by Lee Brothers, whose name is still visible beneath layers of paint on the Riverside Drive facade (at 135th Street)”.

The founder of Lee Bros. was Charles Lee (1853-1953).

This ad for Lee Brothers Inc. appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, 1932, and showed the columned facade at Riverside Drive and 134th St.

This image, dated 1920, on the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections shows a Lee Bros sign on their building at 125th St. and Park Ave.

This later image, dated 1934, on the NYPL’s Digital Collections shows a veritcal Lee Bros sign on the same 125th St. building seen from the opposite direction

Parks Department, Made in India

The New York City Parks Department has access covers (manholes) cast specifically for use in NYC Parks.

You can, of course, see the text and their leaf logo on this one (above). Note however that the casting is not American, it was done in India:

Which leads me to highly, highly recommend a short film (with a brilliant title) Cast in India:

Which I guarantee will have you thinking about manhole covers in a completely different way.

Mosaics

When you think of mosaics and ecclesiastical architecture, Harlem does not come to mind. However, the Shiloh Baptist Church at 131st and Adam Clayton Powell has a remarkable, 3 story high external mosaic on its facade.

Note the hair styles of the people looking up to the central cross.

And those turned away in shame:

Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, looking north from 130th Street

1910-1920?

And looking from the same spot, today

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.8121306,-73.9459916,3a,75y,30.41h,67.53t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZcwknfrC_c6-yqR9kOxP2Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Consumer Debt Workshop Tonight

Tonight Ephesus Church is sponsoring an important workshop on Consumer Debt – how to avoid it, and if you get caught, how to get out of it. Tonight at 7:00 PM

Open Zoom and enter Meeting ID 948 2969 36611 Passcode 009058 or call 929.205.6099

Borough President

A borough president is an advocate for their borough in a number of ways.

First, they have a sizable chunk of change at their disposal to fund local initiatives, groups and projects like buying technology for public schools, renovating local parks or spearheading community health outreach. Borough presidents share about 5% of the city budget to fund things in their borough — about $4 billion among them, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Borough presidents can also introduce bills in the City Council, though they do not get a vote.

They weigh in on land use proposals — in other words, development projects that need public approval — with an advisory vote and written decision. Their input is not binding, but it can be quite influential if they are staunchly for or against a project and lobby Council members or the mayor.

Working with local City Council members, Borough presidents also appoint all members of community boards, the local bodies that weigh in on everything from new bike lanes to liquor licenses for restaurants. With that power, the borough presidents can exert significant sway over neighborhood-level politics and projects.

In addition to their formal powers, the borough presidents play an important role as a champion and booster for their borough, calling news conferences to shed light on issues they believe need attention and making appearances at ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and cultural events.

Here’s who’s running:

The Garden of Eden Found!

(in New York)

The top three tips for ranked choice voting are…

  1. Vote for your genuine favorites, in your order of preference. Don’t try to game the system and guess who has the best chance. Just vote for whom you like in the order that you like them. There’s no risk of losing your vote, because if your favorite is knocked out, your vote will go to your second favorite, and so on.
  2. Don’t rank someone you don’t like. The last spots on your ballot should be for candidates that you are OK with or could live with. If there are candidates you disagree with or really do not want to win, do not put them on your ballot.
  3. You don’t have to fill all five slots, if there are only three or four candidates that you like, you can just rank them. 

Scott Joplin

Walking the other day on West 131st Street I noticed a brownstone with a historic plaque:

The plaque refers to Scott Joplin that Wikipedia notes:

Scott Joplin (c. 1868 – April 1, 1917) was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the “King of Ragtime”.[1] During his brief career, he wrote over 100 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first and most popular pieces, the “Maple Leaf Rag“, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.[2]

To listen to his piece “The Entertainer”, see below:

Seen on ACP

Emergency Rent Assistance – What You Need to Know

The Triboro and Dapper Pedestrians

A lovely 1935-1940 postcard with dapper pedestrians and depression era cars taking in the Triborough bridge with Manhattan in the background.

This painting (then turned into a postcard) shows the fashion (and hats) of the day.

Note the hatless man on the right who appears to be the only one without a suit on a warm, sunny day. And while the Manhattan skyline appears to be generalized, Riverside Church stands out on the left-horizon.

The postcard is for sale on Ebay

Marcus Garvey Park’s Little Free Library Has Plexiglass

The doors on the 3 Little Free Library’s in Marcus Garvey Park now have plexiglass on them.

Before:

After:

Property Tax Reform Coming

Image

Dear New Yorker:
The NYC Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform recently announced three new virtual hearings on its 10 preliminary recommendations, scheduled for Queens on June 9The Bronx on June 14, and Manhattan on June 16. All three hearings will begin at 6 pm. Flyers with additional details about the hearings are available in multiple languages on the Commission’s website here.
On January 31, 2020, the Commission released a Preliminary Report with the following 10 initial recommendations aimed at making the City’s property tax system simpler, clearer, and fairer:
Moving coops, condominiums, and rental buildings with up to 10 units into a new residential class along with 1-3 family homes.
Using a sales-based methodology to value all properties in the residential class.
Assessing every property in the residential class at its full market value.
Annual market value changes in the new residential class being phased in over five years at 20 percent per year.
Creating a partial homestead exemption for primary resident owners with income below a certain threshold.
Creating a circuit breaker within the property tax system to lower the property tax burden on low-income primary resident owners, based on the ratio of property tax paid to income.
Replacing the current class share system with a system that prioritizes predictable and transparent tax rates for property owners.
Current valuation methods should be maintained for properties not in the new residential class (i.e. rental buildings with more than 10 units, utilities, and commercial).
A gradual transition to the new system for current owners, with an immediate transition into the new system whenever a property in the new residential class is sold.
Instituting comprehensive reviews of the property tax system every 10 years.
The Commission was formed by Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in 2018 with a mandate to reform NYC’s property tax system while ensuring there’s no reduction in revenue used to fund essential city services. An in-person hearing following the report’s release was initially scheduled for March 12, 2020, in Staten Island, but was later postponed due to COVID-19. However, the hearings resumed virtually this past May, with hearings for Staten Island and Brooklyn on May 11 and May 27, respectively.
The Commission is soliciting input from the public on the 10 initial recommendations in the Preliminary Report, specifically whether they would achieve the goals of a fairer system, would be improved by certain modifications, or should be enhanced with additional recommendations.
The public can submit feedback by emailing it to [email protected] or uploading it through the Commission’s online portal.
The public may also register to testify at the upcoming hearings for Queens on June 9, The Bronx on June 14, and Manhattan on June 16. To do so, speakers must register on the Commission’s website here.
Anyone wishing to testify must register no later than 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Following registration, speakers will receive further instructions. Speakers may (but need not) submit their presentations ahead of time.

You can testify at any borough hearing, not just the borough where you reside.To request interpretation services please email [email protected] or call 212-676-3072 by 5 pm three business days before the hearing. For ASL, or to request an accommodation for a disability, please email or call by 5 pm five business days before the hearing.
Thank you and, as always, stay safe.

In service,
                                                                         
New York City Council

In-Person, Open Mic, Candidates Forums

FORUM ONE – Your chance to see the candidates and to ask them questions

What:     NYC Mayoral Debates

When:    Saturday, June 5, 2021

Time:      2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Where:   NYC Madison Square Boys & Girls Club 

                 (155 St. & Bradhurst Ave.)

                 250 Bradhurst Avenue

                 NY, NY 10039

Trains:     D to 155 St. Station stop

Bus:         M10, M3 to 155 St. stop