Student Film Screening

The 4TH ANNUAL NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL FILM FESTIVAL featuring films by student filmmakers will be held this SATURDAY MAY 21 830PM at the 135th Street Plaza and the James Baldwin Lawn.

Bring your blankets & snacks for a beautiful evening with us – the weather looks amazing.  

Uncovering the History of Astor Row

(& Other Buildings Worth Preserving)

Take a stroll with Save Harlem Now! to learn about the history of Astor Row and additional Harlem structures that deserve individual landmark status.Our tour starts at Astor Row, with a cautionary tale of how the landmarking of an important building could not prevent its being torn down.SHN! board member Roberta Washington, the original architect for the Astor Row porch restoration projects and a previous NYC Landmarks Preservation Commissioner, will be our guide.Date: Sunday, May 22, 1-3 p.m.Details: Attendance will be capped at 15 participants in order to keep the group small and leave time for discussion. Because tours bring attendees in close proximity to each other, we ask that all attendees wear their mask regardless of vaccination status.
ABOUT ASTOR ROWIn 1981, twenty-eight paired brick townhouses with wooden porches on West 130th Street were designated as individual landmarks by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Built by William Backhouse Astor, Jr., between 1880-1883, most porches and some buildings were re­stored starting in 1992 with initial funds donated by Brooke Astor in an effort led by the Land­marks Conservancy in association with the Abyssinian Development Corporation.The Harlem community welcomed the repair and restoration of this group of unique individual landmarks — which is why the community which has also encouraged landmarking of more buildings in Harlem was shocked to wake up to the news that one of the Astor Row homes had been demol­ished. The demolition has raised questions including: What construction controls are there on sites which once contained an individual landmark? (Hint: fewer that you think.) Is there a way to prevent such tear-downs in the fu­ture?On this tour, see Astor Row and other buildings proposed by SHN! as individual landmarks.
Tickets are free, with optional donations accepted to support ongoing SHN! preservation work.

No Conscription!

In the early years of World War 1, leftists in the US tried to keep the United States out of the war in Europe. Over a 100 years ago, a rally was held in the Harlem Casino – between 1st and 2nd Avenues and 126 and 127th Streets.

This location, where the abandoned MTA bus depot is, hosted noted leftist Emma Goldman, whose offices (where she was arrested and forcibly deported from) was located on East 125th Street, near the current site of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

See more on the casino, here:

Coffee With Your Congressman

Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) will be hosting a series of meet and greet opportunities for constituents across the district. 

Joined by Councilwoman Carmen De La RosaRep. Espaillat is holding these informal events to allow residents to discuss their concerns and share ideas on how to make improvements throughout New York’s 13th congressional district.

Upcoming Dates:

* May 14th:  Northend Restaurant, 4300 Broadway, Washington Heights (across 34Pct.)

* May 21th:  Buunni Coffee, 213 Pinehurst Ave, New York, NY 10033 (187th Street)

* May  28th: Taszo Coffee, 5 Edward M Morgan Pl, New York, NY 10032 (157th Street)

* June 18th:  Bunnii Coffee, 4961 Broadway, New York, NY 10034

* June 25th: Lido Café, 2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd (117th Street)
All events are public and residents are required to RSVP prior to attendance by emailing [email protected] or calling 212-497-5959.


Chipotle on 116 Street East

Plans are underway to protest a Chipotle at 116/Lexington at the CB11 Community Board

Craftspeople, Doctors, and Domestic Servants in 1880

Mapping Historical New York allows you to look at the geographic distribution of trades in 1850, 1880, and 1910. Given how sparsely Harlem was settled in 1850, it’s really only the 1880 data and beyond that shows clear patterns.

This first map is of Craftsmen in 1880. Note their presence in the Upper East Side and in East Harlem along the river where warehouses, industry, and assorted forms of commerce would have required many skilled laborers.

Doctors and surgeons in 1880, however, are limited to a small part of Harlem, mostly in the brownstone blocks above 125th Street in Central Harlem:

The distribution of Domestic Servants is also very telling in its compactness:

Again, mostly above 125th Street, in Central Harlem.

See more at Mapping Historical New York.

Listening to Harlem

The Harlem Connection is a weekly radio show where a trio of music lovers joins forces with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to provide you the artists and the sounds that helped establish Harlem as a cultural Mecca.

Come aboard Friday at 10 PM or Sunday at 3AM on 99.5FM (in NYC) and/or and/or (worldwide)… then available on demand via (as all past episodes are) under “The Harlem Connection” (filed alphabetically by “T.”)

Wards Island Sewage Treatment Site

Completed in 1937, the Wards Island Sewage Treatment plant was the first to use the activated sludge process to treat sewage by removing solid matter, known as sludge, to leave behind clean water that could be released back into the environment. Prior to this only a fraction of the city’s sewage received treatment. Instead, most spilled from sewers directly into surrounding waterways where it strangled marine life and polluted city beaches. The project was realized with more than $11 million in grant monies from the Works Progress Administration. By 1939, both the Bowery Bay and Tallman Island sewage treatment plants were also in operation with more being planned. Today 14 Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities treat over 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every single day and New York City’s waterways are cleaner than ever.

Below is a photo of the sewage treatment plant in 1950.

The area to the north, where the FDNY training facility now exists, was a marshy peninsula, sticking out towards the Bronx.

Here is an image of this plant being build during the New Deal 1930s:

And the completed Administration building:

New Uptown Gallery and Exhibition

Be sure to check-out the AHL Foundation’s new gallery in Harlem (on FDB at 139). Their inaugural exhibition features Buhm Hong, Gyun Hur, Devin Osorio and Dianne Smith and is well worth visiting.

The exquisite drawings and digital art by Buhm Hong is mesmerizing and somehow both calming and disquieting at the same time.

New York, NY – AHL Foundation is proud to announce the opening of its first gallery in West Harlem in April 2022. The wheelchair-accessible gallery is located on the ground floor 2605 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY with a basement space for additional programming. The new space houses the Archive of Korean Artists in America (AKAA) and an educational space for the community.

Following AHL Foundation’s move to Harlem after its 19 year history, it is fitting that this inaugural exhibition in the new space uptown responds to its new neighborhood. Guest curated by Amy Kahng, the inaugural exhibition, Space Uptown opens to the public on April 30, 3-6pm and is on view until May 21, 2022.

An exhibition about locality and neighborhood history, the exhibition features artistic practices that reflect the local neighborhood. Participating artists Buhm Hong, Gyun Hur, Devin Osorio, and Dianne Smith, three of whom live and work in upper Manhattan, consider the communities, histories, memories, and environments that make up Harlem and Upper Manhattan more broadly.

Dianne Smith’s dynamic video work, The House of Lois K. Alexander-Lane, celebrates Harlem’s Black cultural history by weaving together footage from Smith’s participation as a young model in the 1985-1989 iterations of Harlem Fashion Week. Buhm Hong’s intricate and labyrinthine architectural designs, rendered both digitally and on paper, draw on various architectural references from his personal biography including his current homebase in Harlem. Devin Osorio’s fantastical paintings and sculptural works document his neighborhood of Washington Heights, highlighting the quotidian experiences of community, work, commuting, and familial connections. The twelve teardrop vessels filled with Hudson and Harlem River water by Gyun Hur reflect on loss, commemoration, and memory, particularly for the victims of the 2021 Atlanta Spa shooting. Installed here in Harlem, Hur’s work takes on new resonances within the current and historical movements for racial justice that have taken place in this neighborhood.

NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) regulates what can and cannot be built/altered in historic districts across the city. The Historic Districts Council (HDC) reviews every public proposal to the city’s landmarks and historic districts and provides testimony on whether or not HDC believes the architectural changes should be changed or supported.

An empty lot, formerly occupied by a neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Cleverdon & Putzel and built in 1885, and demolished between c. 1940 and 1980 has an application is to construct a new building at 137 West 131st Street in Central Harlem – part of the West 130-132nd Street Historic District.

HDC writes:

HDCis generally comfortable with this proposal but we find two items to be in need of modification. First, the proposed windows should be aluminum-clad wood windows, these will provide finer detailing more appropriate to a house of this scale. Second, we question the need for the bulkhead on top of the roof top extension. We believe that the code does not require this bulkhead and that the requirement for rooftop access could be accomplished with a steel ladder on the front of the extension. We ask that the applicant verify this understanding as the bulkhead adds an awkward element to an already excessive protrusion.

Exhibit at Kente Royal Gallery

Make sure to check out the current exhibit at Kente Royal Gallery:

Wednesday – Friday
2pm – 8pm
Saturday & Sunday 12pm to 8pm
[email protected]

Pelham Fritz Center Has Re-Opened

The Pelham Fritz Recreation Center has reopened In Marcus Garvey Park after a 2+ year hiatus!

During the height of the pandemic, the Center was repurposed as a food distribution hub in support of COVID-19-related services. The center remained closed while they made improvements to the building—including reconstruction of the front lobby, retaining walls, and park entrance.

The center now features a new vestibule, new signage, and front windows, and enhanced ADA accessibility.

They’re excited to welcome members back and they’re inviting the Harlem community to join.

Membership is free for New Yorkers 24 years and under and low-cost for adults and seniors.

The First Use of the Term “The Big Apple”

The term “The Big Apple” was first used on this day – May 3rd, 1921.

John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph was the first to use the term in print. Its popularity since the 1970s is due in part to the promotional campaign spearheaded by the New York tourist authority.

In February of 1924, John J. Fitz Gerald, a columnist covering horseracing for the New York Morning Telegraph, debuted a new column he called: Around the Big Apple, further popularizing the term.

In it, Fitz Gerald wrote “The Big Apple, the dream of every lad who ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple, that’s New York.”

Journey to Better Health | AWARE for All – NYC

WHAT:                Join this free community event, hosted by The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), to learn more about clinical trials and hear personal experiences from those who are involved in them. Free health screenings provided by Harlem United and free dinner will be available at the event. The first 50 people to register and attend will receive a $20 Walgreens gift card. Pfizer, Harlem United, New York Academy of Medicine, Mount Sinai’s Tisch Cancer Institute, and other organizations will be exhibitors. 

WHEN:                Thursday, May 19, 2022

5 PM – 8 PM EST

WHERE:              The New York Academy of Medicine

                             1216 5th Ave

New York, NY 10029

WHO:                  The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP)

A Postcard of Graham Court

Graham Court Apartments were built on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd between 116th and 117th Streets. One of the Astors (think Astor Row on 130th Street and Astoria and Astor Place…) built the complex in 1901 using the architectural firm Clinton and Russell,

The complex has a gracious entrance and courtyard and is 8 stories tall. the building is landmarked, and thus extensive work over the last few years has all had to be done under the eye of the landmarks commission.

Pan Fried Chicken

Eater has a great article on restauranteur Charles Gabriel who has been cooking in Harlem for decades, beginning with Copeland’s, but now is opening a number of pan fried chicken restaurants.

Gabriel worked at the Copeland’s (a neighborhood soul food spot) for 22 years — first as a dish washer, then as a cook — before setting off on his own. He sold hot dogs and barbecue from a folding table along Amsterdam Avenue, then opened a food truck and a series of storefronts of varying names: Charles’ Mobile Soul Food Truck, Charles’ Country Pan-Fried Chicken, and Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen.

Now Charles Pan-Fried Chicken gets its turn, a small takeout and delivery restaurant with enough standing room for a dozen or so people to yell for trays of barbecued ribs or smothered turkey wings.

Slobert is partially to credit for the change in direction. The hospitality veteran, who grew up going to Copeland’s while Gabriel was a chef there, is the restaurant’s chief operating officer, an odd title for a two-location, family-run business, but one that reflects his dreams of national expansion. “Originally we were supposed to do one restaurant,” Slobert says, but plans changed after takeout started to take off at Charles Pan-Fried Chicken during the pandemic. “I thought, ‘Why not take over the world?’”

Read more, here:

East Harlem’s First Historic District

Landmarks East Harlem has been working for 8 years on designating an area around the East River Plaza to be designated a Historic District.

With the support of the Municipal Art Society’s (MAS) Livable Neighborhoods program and SHPO, LEH organized public information meetings for property owners to explain the implications of State and National Register listing and to highlight that listing does not place burdens on property owners. In fact, listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places can make property owners eligible for federal and state Historic Tax Credits for improvements in their properties. The vast majority of property owners in the proposed district supported its listing, allowing SHPO to bring the nomination to the New York State Board for Historic Preservation for approval.

To be listed on the State and National Register, a district must possess a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by a plan or physical development. The National Park Service (NPS) works in conjunction with the NY State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to determine eligibility. These criteria are similar to those for historic districts designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The difference is that listing on the State and National Registers is honorary and does not impose any burdens on property owners. LPC designation, on the other hand, does require property owners to meet LPC standards when making additions or renovations and does not allow property owners to demolish their buildings except under rare circumstances.

Landmarks East Harlem is currently looking at two more areas in East Harlem.

The East-Central Harlem Historic District is fairly defined and ready for nomination this year.

The East Harlem South district is much more amorphous and subject to a closer survey to further define what should be designated.

To learn more, see the Landmarks East Harlem website.

The Curve

This is a great photo from 1895 showing 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. You can see that the train has come down from Morningside Heights on 110th Street and is about to turn up FDB.

Note the early scaffolding of the cathedral of St. John The Devine, under the tracks (an arched, inverted “u” shape). To the right is St. Lukes Hospital and Columbia University.

Viaduct, 155th Street, Harlem Bridge

The view of this photo (looking back and up to Harlem – if you were headed to the Bronx you’d be traveling to the right and down) shows a recently competed 155th Street Bridge that now goes from Harlem over to the Bronx near Yankee Stadium.

Note how isolated many of the buildings on the horizon seem to be. They’re built with no neighbors, just fields. The close-up (below shows the horizon in more detail):

The city developed by leap-frogging, not by a continuous wave of building.

You might be able to recognize this building, also in the distance:

The flag is in front of the Morris-Jumel Mansion – sitting proudly by itself on a hill overlooking the Bronx.

1880 Birthplace

When Harlem’s identity shifted from village-outside-New-York, to suburb of New York in the late 1800’s, the ethnic makeup of its residents displayed striking patterns.

Looking at the map below you immediately notice the blue lines following avenues (more likely to have commercial space below with business owners or employees living above). These blue dots represent people who told the US Census that their birthplace was Germany. We don’t know if they were ethnically Jewish, Polish, or other minority groups living in the German lands, however.

Lastly it’s important to note that the buildings built along Avenues tended to be larger, and more likely to hold more people. We see this today walking around Harlem. While 3 story brownstones are typically found on streets. Brownstones on Avenues can reach 4 or even 5 stories tall.

There is some green scattered about (indicating a birthplace in England), but the pink dots (birthplace in Ireland) really stand out on the streets.

Zooming in a bit, you can see the pattern/s for 1880 birthplaces more clearly:

People Power

A great mural found on Park Avenue, just south of 116th Street.