The M35

Depending on how long you’ve lived in Harlem, you may remember different iterations of bus access to Randall’s or Wards’ Island. Here are the 3 (former) ways to get to the island by MTA bus:

  • M34 operated between Lexington Avenue/125th Street to Randall’s/Wards Island to Astoria – shortened to operate between Lexington Av/125th Street and Randall’s/Wards Island, and renamed as the M35 in 1995
  • X81 Special Events bus between Randall’s Island and 61st St 7 station/LIRR in Woodside – This service was provided for special events such as concerts and a premium fare was charged. This service was no longer provided as of 2009 or 2010.
  • Bx21 operated between Lexington/125th Street, Randall’s/Wards Island and Morris Park, Bronx.  This service was discontinued in 1984.

Today, with less than 200 people riding it per day on average, here’s the route:

The Business Side of Sylvia’s

Sylvia’s Restaurant – a legendary Harlem restaurant – is featured in a Harvard business podcast that looks not only at the foundations of this icon, but where the family envisions taking the business in the future.

Have a listen:

https://hbr.org/podcast/2022/11/planning-the-future-for-harlems-beloved-sylvias-restaurant

Woman Walking

Another photo from the 1930s with a woman walking past a series of shops. This image is from the 1930s and is taken on 8th Avenu (Frederick Douglass Blvd.) at 143rd Street.

The clothing store advertises men’s suits and has everything from hats to shoes on display.

Note the hostile white man (a shopkeeper?) peering out at the photographer.

Here is the view of that block, today:

The Blacklining Foundation

https://www.blackliningfoundation.com/store

Blacklining Foundation gear is on sale and with the coupon code below, you can get a 30% off discount

https://www.blackliningfoundation.com/store

Christmas Sleighing in Harlem

Sleigh riding on Harlem River Drive, under the Highbridge, headed south.

The text is, as follows:

The New York Speedway, which was built and is maintained exclusively for the trotting horse, is bordered by the Harlem River on one side and a major bluff on the other, which shuts out the wind. It could hardly be improved upon as to elevation and has served as a pattern for others in different parts of the country. Only light vehicles drawn by one or two horses are allowed on it. The sale and rise of high-class trotting horses have increased immensely since its construction in 1895, and what was at first devised as an improvement favouring only a few has proved to be of great value to a large part of the community.

Moth Proof

A photo from the 1930s of a street scene in Harlem with a pawnbroker’s, a fruit and vegetable stand, and a grocery store.

The pawnbroker promotes that his business is “moth-free” and thus a safe location to pawn an article of clothing.

The grocery store has a number of brands that we would recognize today, even if the prices are quite different.

The fruit and vegetable stand has at least one customer peering in to look at what’s on offer – under the canvas shades (and burlap bags) to shield against the sun:

This otherwise quotidian scene has another component, a protest on the sidewalk against the fruit and vegetable stand:

The three men shown in the detail above look challengingly towards the photographer – perhaps wondering what is the purpose of the photographer as at least one of them protests the unfair labor practices of the fruit and vegetable stand’s owner.

Below is the street scene today. The Salvation Army dominates the block north of Harlem Hospital, with a speed camera and bus stop, and none of the vibrant street life depicted in the photo from the 1930s.

Holiday Concert

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s that time of year where we celebrate family, friends and holiday spirit.  After years of social distancing, we are finally coming back together to celebrate the season with our Annual Holiday Concert. 

Join us at East River Plaza on Saturday, December 17 at 11 am and 1 pm as we welcome the Sing Harlem Choir to fill the air with the sounds of the season.  Please share this invitation with your family, friends and neighbors.  The more the merrier! 

Looking forward to seeing you.

Happy Holidays! 

25th Precinct’s Community Council Meeting with Borough President Mark Levine

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

Good Morning All,

It is my hope that everyone is doing well.  Hope you guys are preparing for the Holiday, to purposely spend quality time with family and friends.  

We are planning our last meeting of 2022.  Yikes!  2022 is coming to an end.  We started this year off with a literal bang – with one of our Officers being shot in the head by a stray bullet.  We are thankful and lucky that he is alive and well sporting his long beard, still protecting and serving the East Harlem Community.  We have so much to be grateful for but yet still so much work to do together to provide a safe community for all.  So don’t bail out on me yet.  One more meeting this year to go.  

Come join us to discuss public safety concerns with not only our Commanding Officer and his team, but also with Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.  Let’s show BP Levine some love and show up in numbers like last month.  Riverbend—- STAND UP! Where yall at?  Don’t fail me now.  LOL!  Love yall. Not just my Riverbend people – My East Harlem community Family come out and join us for our last meeting of the year.  We will also have a few other guests as well.  

Lastly,  We are preparing for our  Annual Toy Giveaway on December 20th.  It will be held at the East River Plaza on 116th and Pleasant.  Bring out a young person to receive some Holiday Cheer from the 25th Precinct Collective Body, East River Plaza associates, and friends.  There will be some surprise pop up guests there too.  Who might it be????? I can’t tell – you have to come out to see.  If you would like to volunteer for the event please email me or call me (646-294-3906) If you know me…… Wherever and whenever there is music – I’m going to dance and sing.  So if nothing less…. Come out and shake a leg, sing a holiday tune and spread happiness to anyone we grace with our presence.

 —

Kioka Jackson

Follow your dreams………

Patch.com Reports on Plans for Central Park’s ‘Gate of the Exonerated’

Patch.com’s Nick Garber reports on the progress to name a north-east gate into Central Park for the Exonerated 5.

“It was such a long journey to get to where we are,” Karen Horry, a CB10 member who helped lead the effort, told Patch on Monday. “The community’s voice has been heard.”
An unveiling ceremony will be held on Dec. 19, and the Conservancy has already chiseled out the soon-to-be-installed sign, according to the New York Times, which first reported on Monday’s vote.

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/exonerated-5-be-honored-central-park-entrance-harlem

Inez Dickens Expresses Concern Regarding The 125th Street Cannabis Shop Across From the Apollo

75 Instructresses

Admittedly, the matchbooks come from Chicago, not Harlem, but I was dazzled by the word “Instructresses”, and with 75 of them, Dreamland does seem like a dreamy place to learn how to dance.

As Seen In East Harlem’s Art Park

A Spanish colonial-era battlement seems to have run aground in East Harlem’s Art Park and then promptly painted Department of Buildings green:

Rhum Boogie

Ebay has a 1943 image of Rhum Boogie, and three dapper men walking past:

The song, Rhum Boogie has the following lyrics:

All Harlem’s got a brand new rhythm
And it’s burning up the dance halls
Because it’s so hot.
They took a little rhumba rhythm,
And they added boogie-woogie,
And-a look what they’ve got

Rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie-woogie.
It’s Harlem’s new creation
With a Cuban syncopation –
It’s a killer.

Rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie-woogie.
A native is a monkey
Both barbaric and a donkey –
It’s a killer.
Just plant your toes
And both feet in Honeyside –
Lets both hit the Jodeside.

Just through your body way back rhyme
Sing a little bit of the –

Rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie-woogie.
The native rhythm haunts you,
It’s barbaric and it taunts you –
It’s a killer.

Just plant you toes and both feet on each side,
Let both your hips and shoulders glide,
Then throw your body a-way back and ride.
Sing a little of
The rhumba
The boogie
The woogie
Then put them
Both all together
You have rhumboogie…

Then all together sing rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie-woogie.
Rhumboogie.
In Harlem or Havana
In Poughkeepsie or Savannah
It’s a killer.
It’s a killer this rhumboogie.

Rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie.
Rhumboogie-woogie-woogie-woogie-woogie.
Do-do-do-do-u-do-do-do-u-do-do-do-u.
There’s nothing like rhumboogie!

Rhum Boogie was just south of the Lafayette Theater – the location where the ground-breaking performance of Macbeth was staged in the 1930’s with Orson Wells directing.

Black Theater Matters: https://blacktheatrematters.org/ has a great look at this period of Black theater.

Rhum Boogie would have been in the building behind the tree in the photo, above, 2221 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. This location (and entire block) is an apartment building:

Harlem’s Claire Oliver Gallery Represents Barbara Earl Thomas Who Replaces Stained Glass Windows At Yale

In June of 2016, Corey Menafee worked for Yale as a dishwasher at Yale’s Calhoun College, as he was cleaning a dining room Menafee stood on top of a table and used a broomstick to break a stained-glass window. The windows, installed in 1933, depicted enslaved Africans carrying bales of cotton. Menafee said the image was racist and degrading and that he had become sick of seeing it every day. The dining room windows that once contained romanticized depictions of the antebellum South and slavery now showcase the work of Barbara Earl Thomas, commissioned by Yale to produce 6 new windows, replacing the Calhoun stained glass with the artist’s beautiful and healing narratives.

Yale University unveils a major commission of stained-glass windows by Barbara Earl Thomas.

“I’m interested in how we connect the past to the present so that we don’t lose the link,” Ms. Thomas said in an interview. “I think in order to understand how we got here, you very much have to make clear where we’ve come from.”

stained-glass windows by artist Barbara Earl Thomas on display in Yale’s Grace Hopper Collage
Thomas’s new windows illustrate key transitions in the college’s history, honor the people who work in the dining hall, and represent the joyful music and community spirit that brighten the undergraduate experience at Yale.

“These new windows are a wonderful gift to the students and staff of Hopper College and the entire Yale community,” said President Peter Salovey. “They honor the strong sense of community that helps us to grow and flourish together.

Artist Barbara Earl Thomas discusses her works with residents of Grace Hopper Collage

Our World

Ebay has a 1951 edition of Our World up for sale.

The cover has teasers for the stories inside including the children of famous people:

A look at Billy Eckstine:

And Harlem, the Most Slandered City:

5th and 126th

The building on the north-west corner of 126th and 5th Avenue was opened in 1938:

image.png

and was the first new building in Harlem that welcomed African Americans.  The beautiful interior and fixtures made this building a classic of the pre-War period.  Until this building’s construction, African-American residents in Harlem had only lived in buildings that were formerly occupied by white residents or in buildings that had been intended for white residents.

Ms. Hill, one of the original tenants noted that the neighborhood was mostly Finnish at the time.  She also noted that the solid, if quiet opulence attracted a number of celebrities to this building:  the singers Billy Eckstine and Juanita Hall, for example, soon moved in.

Before this apartment building was built, a gorgeous Victorian mansion stood on the corner of 126th and 5th

image (4).jpg

This beautiful mansion had been used as the Mary E. Johnson Boarding School for Colored Children. (You probably recognize the sliver of the church to the north of the boarding school that exists today.)

However, before that, it was the Mrs. Helen M. Scofille’s School for Girls (presumably, white only), and before that an ivy-covered mansion, now long gone.

Tonight!

Covid + Stress + Mental Health

Atalanta (sic) Casino

An ephemeral advertisement for the “Atalanta” (sic) Casino, owned by Gerken & Hedden and located at 155th St. & 8th Ave.

The Atlanta Casino (or “Atalanta”) was a 3 story wood-framed entertainment complex that was eventually destroyed by fire in 1898. This suburban complex was served by the elevated railroad that then ran on Eighth avenue terminating immediately in front of the property.   

As Seen In Harlem

Bonus points if you noticed the double rainbow.

World AIDS Day