The Silent March

In the 1970’s a back-hoe operator noticed scores and scores of film canisters and reels poking out of the soil where he was digging a new septic system:

The wet, dirty, and frozen film reels represented a trove of silent era films that the world had not seen for generations.

Dawson City in Canada’s far north was the end of the line, the last stop in the distribution chain of silent era films. Once everywhere else was finished with the films they ended up in Dawson City where they were stockpiled and the distributors refused to pay for their return (especially since they were, by then, 2 to 3 years old). The stockpile grew and grew. Some of the pile were dumped in the local river, some were burned. The trove that was found in the 70’s were used as fill to fill up a former swimming pool (along with soil) so a new hockey rink could be built atop the former pool.


Amid the more than 500 reels of film that were recovered was a short 28 second clip of the 1917 Silent Parade (or the Silent Protest):

Indeed if you’ve ever seen black and white film clips of the parade, you’ve likely seen part of a reel that was dug out of a former swimming pool in Canada’s arctic, after being buried for 60 years. (See: https://naacp.org/silent-protest-parade-centennial/ for more on the parade and its significance for American history.)

Here is the 28 second clip:

On July 28, 1917 W. E. B. Du Bois organized a parade of African Americans that ran down Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 23rd Street. Dressed in white, and silent except for a muffled beat of drums, thousands marched in protest of the recent mob violence and lynchings in Waco, Memphis and East St. Louis.

NOTE: This clip originally appeared as part of Universal Animated Weekly, Vol. 5, Issue 83, released on August 1, 1917. In 1929 it was buried, along with 532 other film reels, in a defunct swimming pool in Dawson City, Yukon Territory Canada. It was unearthed in 1978 during a construction project, after being inadvertently preserved for 49 years in the Yukon permafrost. The exhumation of the collection was administered by the Dawson City Museum, and was then jointly preserved by Library and Archives Canada and the US Library of Congress, where the nitrate originals and duplicate safety copies of the collection are now housed. The clip was first excerpted for use in Bill Morrison’s 2016 documentary “Dawson City: Frozen Time” some 38 years after it was originally discovered. The Dawson City Museum, Library and Archives Canada, Library of Congress and the film “Dawson City: Frozen Time” should be credited in any re-use.

To learn more about the film trove and how important this collection is to both film history and history in general, see Dawson City: Frozen Time:

Menus

Hello Harlem Neighbors,

With COVID, many of us have thought about the plight of our neighborhood’s restaurant owners, workers, and delivery people. This is an interesting time to look back into Harlem’s historic places to eat, and The Schomburg is a great place to explore historic menus and other ephemera.

Here is the Savoy’s floorplan:

And two restaurant menus from 125th street:

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/2c1e3380-6215-0132-0460-58d385a7bbd0

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/517b6c00-6214-0132-2895-58d385a7bbd0

To browse historic menus in Harlem, see:

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=harlem+menu#

Storefront Academy and the 40’s

The Storefront Academy

The storied Storefront Academy https://www.storefrontacademycs.org/ has changed to a Charter School and is now struggling to come online in the COVID-19 era.

The Children’s Storefront was a tuition-free private school in Harlem, founded in 1966 by the poet Ned O’Gorman.  It was the subject of a 1988 documentary film, The Children’s Storefront, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

The mural on their east wall (behind the BP gas station at 129th Street and Park Avenue) is wonderful and inspiring, albeit marred somewhat by the “Now Enrolling” sign.

1940’s Streetview

The wonderful blog Gotham to Go (the labor and love of one of our Madison Avenue neighbors – https://gothamtogo.com/were-enjoying-the-interactive-street-view-map-showing-nyc-in-1940/) has a great piece on a wonderful project that stitched together the 1940s tax photos of NYC into a kind-of mid-century street view.

Coal is being delivered on West 129th Street:

And Madison Avenue between 126 and 127 is barren with not a sign of a tree, trash or life:

Notice how there used to be a restaurant at the ground level on the north west corner of 126/Madison:

To see more: https://1940s.nyc/map/photo/nynyma_rec0040_1_01749_0056#17.09/40.806624/-73.9386

Fred R. Moore

The Fred R. Moore School between 5th and Madison, and 130th and 131st, is restrained mid-century gem of New York City’s public architecture. This school and the associated playground take up a whole city block: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/schools/M133

When you walk on Madison between 131st and 130th, just inside the playground’s gates, you’ll see a wonderful bas relief of schoolchildren racing towards school and their future:

The school is named for a prominent Black journalist and publisher who wrote for and ran the New York Age during the Harlem Renaissance.

Moore was an editor and publisher who became closely associated with Booker T. Washington until 1915 when Washington died. He worked to promote the National Negro Business League founded by Washington in 1900. He became editor and publisher of the Colored American Magazine in 1905, through Washington’s influence. He had the reputation as one of the most important newspaperman in the US.

Again through Washington who bought New York Age, Moore became editor and purported owner in 1907, a position he held until his death

The Parks department notes:

In October 1949, community members, government officials, teachers, and students gathered to dedicate the new Fred R. Moore School/P.S. 133 at Fifth Avenue and 130th Street in Harlem. Mrs. Marian Moore Day, youngest daughter of the late editor, spoke at the ceremony. The site of the neighboring playground had been acquired by the City of New York in 1946. It was developed with basketball and handball courts, as well as a softball diamond and a large open area for rollerskating. The playground opened on December 22, 1951.

Former Council Member (now Manhattan Borough President) C. Virginia Fields funded the $885,000 reconstruction of Moore Playground in 1998. As they enter the playground from the northeast, pupils at P.S. 133 and community members encounter a granite and cast-stone replica of the front page of the New York Age, announcing the achievements of Fred R. Moore. The playground features new play equipment, safety surfacing, benches, spray shower, climbing turtles, drinking fountain, drainage and water supply, and resurfaced tennis and basketball courts. The entire site is enclosed with new fencing adorned with steel silhouettes of turtles, birds, and marsh plants.

Triborough

As a New Yorker who first arrived in 1993, I still think of the bridge (or the bridges) as the Triboro, or Triborough. RFK is in my mind, but Triboro always comes out first.

I came across this great image of the Triboro’s span raising (the part that goes over the Harlem river to connect Manhattan to Randall’s Island) in order that the newly constructed Willis Avenue Bridge could be floated up to its site:

Imagine doing that with only 5′ to spare on each side. For more, see:

http://www.mta.info/press-release/bridges-tunnels/robert-f-kennedy-bridges-harlem-river-lift-span-raised-welcome-new

HARLEM WEEK 2020

FROM SUNDAY, AUGUST 16 TO SUNDAY, AUGUST 23

What originally started as a one-day tribute to one of the most culturally rich neighborhoods in the world has now become a month-long celebration enjoying its 46th year. Recognizing this year, 2020 is unlike we have ever seen HARLEM WEEK this year will take place from August 16 – 23 and it will take place virtually. For many years people have planned their vacations around the dates HARLEM WEEK to travel to Harlem to participate in our festival. This year HARLEM WEEK goes to the world as a virtual event sharing the culture, history, resilience and strength of Harlem.

Upcoming Events

AUG165:00 AM – 11:59 PMSupport Harlem Now Virtual Harlem 5K Run Honoring Percy 100 and Charles Rangel 90

The traditional Harlem 5k Run will this year be a virtual event taking place throughout HARLEM WEEK 2020!AUG165:01 AM – 11:59 PMVirtual Exhibitor Vendor Village

Shop, get information, win prizes, get free gifts when you visit the HARLEM WEEK Virtual Exhibitor Vendor village. Shop with local businesses from around the world and visit with reps from Fortune 500 corporations. The HARLEM WEEK Virtual Exhibitor Vendor village has something for everyoneAUG166:00 AM – 11:59 AMHARLEM WEEK/Imagenation Film Festival

Enjoy Films that speak to our HARLEM WEEK Theme of “Movement of The People”, celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Baseball League and the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance.AUG1610:00 AM – 11:00 AMChildren’s Corner

Parents, have your kids join us each morning of HARLEM WEEK in the Children’s Corner. Our daily space just for kids up to age 12. Youngsters can enjoy book reading, performances, cooking classes (done with adult supervision) and more.AUG1611:00 AM – 12:00 PMDance Workshop Presented by NJPAC

Every day during HARLEM WEEK take time to dance, move and groove with us and our partners at New Jersey Performing Arts Center with special guest instructors .AUG163:00 PM – 7:00 PMA Great Day In Harlem

Join us online and celebrate A Great Day In Harlem, featuring performances and appearances from local, national and international performing artists including Hezekiah Walker, Erica Campbell, Dance Theater of Harlem, The Harlem Music Festival All Star Band led by Ray Chew and much more!AUG167:00 PM – 7:10 PMA Taste Of Harlem

Harlem has some of the worlds most iconic restaurants and we invite you to experience them virtually throughout HARLEM WEEK 2020. See how some of the mouth watering dishes and delicious beverages are made, join us and enjoy “A Taste of Harlem.”AUG175:00 AM – 11:59 PMSupport Harlem Now Virtual Harlem 5K Run Honoring Percy100 and Charles Rangel 90

The traditional Harlem 5k Run will this year be a virtual event taking place throughout HARLEM WEEK 2020!AUG175:01 AM – 11:59 PMVirtual Exhibitor Vendor Village

Shop, get information, win prizes, get free gifts when you visit the HARLEM WEEK Virtual Exhibitor Vendor village. Shop with local businesses from around the world and visit with reps from Fortune 500 corporations. The HARLEM WEEK Virtual Exhibitor Vendor village has something for everyoneAUG176:00 AM – 11:59 AMHARLEM WEEK/Imagenation Film Festival

Enjoy Films that speak to our HARLEM WEEK Theme of “Movement of The People”, celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Baseball League and the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance.SEE FULL CALENDAR

Census, Racial Types, and Time

The Pew Trust has a fascinating visualization of the complicated way in which Americans (and the American census in particular) classified people into racial categories:

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/02/25/the-changing-categories-the-u-s-has-used-to-measure-race/

The census years are aligned across the top, and the inclusion and evolution of categories is reflected in the horizontal colored bands.  Note that citizens could only choose their own racial categories in 1960. Before this, census enumerators would choose your race.