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

Black Women Entrepreneurs

Businesses owned by Black women are growing at six times the national average. These women-owned businesses currently generate $51.4 billion in total revenues and employ more than 375,000 people according to Donna Walker-Kuhne:

https://walkercommunicationsgroup.com/

Whose blog introduced me to the film She Did That which highlights Black women entrepreneurs.

HNBA’s very own LaShawn Henry recently moved into the entrepreneurial space and describes her company: Urban Strategies as an MWBE Consultant company that specializes in assisting its clients in building diverse and inclusive workforces.

She writes:

Our goal is to create a more inclusive workforce that benefits companies looking to fill positions and communities by improving access to employment opportunities. We connect with local partners and community groups to create a pipeline of talent that is ready to enter the workforce. We develop our pipeline of talent by working with historically marginalized groups, LGBTQ, non-binary, transgender, youth, formerly incarcerated, women, local companies, and unemployed populations We believe to revolutionize the workforce then we must build wealth in underrepresented spaces.

We cannot close the wealth gap, build our communities, and end systemic racism without changing who we hire. We do not have inclusion until all marginalized persons and groups have a seat at the table. We cannot be selective in our definition of inclusion. At the core of our work is fighting gender discrimination, more women are entering the Construction industry, but they often are met with bias. We are confronting this challenge by providing direct support to MWBEs.

Our goal is to build a pipeline of MWBE talent to fill open contracts and educate subcontractors on the bidding process through educational workshops and resources The strategy is to engage our current network and create new partnerships with institutions that have direct contact with MWBE communities.  Through direct outreach and targeted promotion, we can form new partnerships with those who align with our goals. Urban Strategies believes diversity and diverse workforces are not only good for communities, but diverse workforces make better, more sustainable decisions that help a company’s bottom line. Diversity is good for society and good for business.

www.urbanstrategiesofnewyork.com

Eyesore to be Demolished

An eyesore on 115/3rd is going to be demolished, finally. This boarded up building has stood and exemplifying blight for as long as most neighbors can remember.

See: https://newyorkyimby.com/2021/04/demo-permits-filed-for-191-east-115th-street-in-east-harlem-manhattan.html for more.

East River Plaza

Most Harlem residents have visited East River Plaza (Target, Costco, Aldi, etc.) at 117th street and Harlem River Drive at least once over the years.

The site – owned by Brookfield Properties – was once a wire factory that made springs, musical wires (think pianos), and industrial and commercial wires of every sort.

I recently came across an item for sale, clipped from a vintage newspaper, that not only showed the huge number of wire products produced, but also the factory itself.

Note that the factory was directly on the water, and a sailing ship was docked at the factory (no Harlem River Drive), showing that the factory was located there precisely for water transportation of supplies and the finished wire products.

For many drivers on the Harlem River Drive, the factory was a landmark until it was razed for the shopping complex.

Here is the link to the item:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/174724184415?ul_noapp=true

PVC

Over on the west side of Harlem, a creative entrepreneur built a sidewalk extension out of PVC pipes. It’s a creative strategy that never would have occurred to me, but somehow works.

You might not immediately identify it when you first see it from a distance:

but up close, it’s definitely PVC in all its glory.

Pop-up Vaccinations Today and Friday

Cayuga will be hosting a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic at our location on Third ave location. Here are the details: 
When:  Thursday 05/06 and Friday 05/07

When:  8:30 am – 5:30 pm

Where:  Cayuga Centers (2183 Third Ave, New York, NY 10035)

Brand:  Moderna
Walk-ins will be accepted on a limited basis. If interested in being vaccinated at our clinic please email Yiseily De Los Santos at [email protected]g or call at (646) 988-6718 to secure an appointment.

More on Redlining

The digitized versions of the 1930’s redlining maps are fairly ubiquitous these days.

What is often not discussed is that in the early 20th century the white men who drew these maps predicted that the waterfront of the Upper East Side (then with breweries, warehouses, factories, and a mostly German and Slavic immigrant community) was going to go downhill. We also need to recall that the presence of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Els were also a source of class-panic in that the depressed land values under the Els and the sorts of businesses that located there, seemed to portend a dark future.

In the illustration, above, you can see the almost complete expectation (by the redlining teams) that the Financial District and the LES + Chinatown, would invariably become ‘hazardous’ investment locations.

Redlining, however, did more than predict a community’s viability as a site of investment, it also determined community’s futures by starving them of capital and slowly consigning any existing property owners in ‘hazardous’ areas to insolvency or bankruptcy.

FDNY and High Winds

Last week with the high winds, the FDNY was called to investigate loose metal flashing that appeared unsafe on the Church of All Saints.

Nothing major was discovered at this recently sold building.

Dutch New Haarlem

A 19th century sketch map of the Dutch colonial settlement of New Haarlem shows a number of interesting features.

Notice how the streets are oriented to true north/south, not on a ‘Manhattan-esque’ angle as they are now (based on The Commissioner’s Plan). Also, New Haarlem was centered around 122 and 2nd Avenue, not west along 125th Street. The Dutch village ultimately used the Harlem and East Rivers for most travel to/from other settlements.

As you can see below, there was a pond, centered on 125th street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues:

And a road, leaving for Spuyten Duyvel (Inwood) headed due north from the church farm land which was on the outskirts of the village:

Lastly, the churchyard and graveyard were around 125/126 and 1st Avenue, where we now know there is a burial ground of enslaved Africans:

Shoe Polish

If you’ve walked north on Madison from 125th Street you might have seen the faded ad on the side of an east-side building:

Looking carefully, you’ll see it’s an ad for shoe polish. The brand of which I can’t make out:

Shoe Polish

Improves your

Appearance

Shoe Polish

Value…Your

Drug Arrests

Vice has a fascinating look at how drug arrests have plummeted in the decade from 2009 to 2019:

https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy8k97/how-new-york-quietly-ended-its-street-drug-war

Just this visualization (below), showing the massive drop in the number of NYC drug arrests in 2009 to 2019 (red line) and the number of drug convictions from 2009 to 2019 (white line) is stunning:

The question of why this is happening, and the article makes clear that this is not simply a drop in arrests/convictions of marijuana, it represents all drugs and all arrests. Ultimately, activists, and pressure on city hall, city council, and the NYPD itself has led to this ski slope drop in arrests/convictions.

The article notes that:

the decision to curtail the mass arresting and jailing of non-violent drug offenders was a deliberate move by the authorities in response to prolonged pressure from activists and outraged New Yorkers—in particular from the communities most impacted by them. 

It’s also important to note that NYC is somewhat of an outlier. The rest of the US continues to focus on small scale possession and sales with the exception of some cities, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and St. Louis. However…

… the latest FBI national data shows that despite increasing cannabis legalization, drug arrests have stubbornly refused to fall. More people are being arrested for drugs in the U.S. than for any other reason. In 2009 there were 1.6 million drug arrests, which dipped to 1.4 million in 2015 but went back up to 1.5 million in 2019. Many cities still have the stop-and-frisk tactics they adopted from New York more than a decade ago. 

The article notes that by the late 1990s, as the street violence started to fall, pedestrian stops resulting in body searches just kept on spiralling. Instead of guns and crack, officers were mainly picking people up for low-level cannabis offenses, criminalizing tens of thousands of non-violent New Yorkers. Between 2002 and 2012, according to a joint report by the DPA and Marijuana Arrest Research Project, the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for cannabis possession, which took up more than one million hours of police time.  

And, to no one’s surprise, young Black men are still being arrested for drug offenses at significantly higher rates than young white men.  

These disproportionate arrest figures are not just about police bias; they are about structural racism, a reflection of the consequence of embedded social exclusion. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are twice as likely to live in poverty, or live in near-poverty, as white or Asian New Yorkers, and there’s a harsh reality to the drug business: People who are locked out of the mainstream economy are more likely than others to resort to the drug trade to get by. What’s more, people living in poorer neighborhoods are also more likely to be picked up by police, who target these areas.

New Cafe?

Is a new cafe/bakery going to open in the old Jahlookova site?

We’ve seen work going on here, and heard chatter about a new cafe on Madison…

An Easter Card

Ebay had an Easter card on offer from Harlem. Note the address, 2214 3rd Avenue. Today, the former J. Bruns “Harlem Candy Kitchen” location is the site of a City Fresh Market:

Here is the link, and an image of the card:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/164732743526?ul_noapp=true

Maria Granville Featured

Maria Granville was featured in a piece on the moral and economic need to ensure that New York’s Black community benefits from the legalization of marijuana. Given that so much of the punitive and carceral focus on marijuana has historically impacted communities of color, restorative justice demands that these devastated communities benefit from the newly enacted legislation.

For the full article and interview, see:

https://bronx.news12.com/harlem-business-alliance-raises-economic-equity-concerns-as-marijuana-is-legalized

Coal

In the 19th and early 20th century coal usurped wood as the most common heat source in New York City. The environmental and health costs of millions of homes heating with coal were enormous, and an army of coal merchants and their employees had to get coal to homes come rain, shine, or snow.

To store coal for heating and for cooking, most buildings in Harlem and New York City in general, were outfitted with a coal storage area, underground, typically extending to the property line – even if the building was setback to allow the stairs or stoop to reach the elevated 1st floor. To access this coal storage area, builders created an 18 to 22 inch hole that reached the sidewalk or front patio, that was then covered with a heavy cast iron, circular coal chute cover. Coal companies looked at these coal cute covers as marketing opportunities, and frequently embellished them with their company name, address, and logo.

Here are a few of the coal covers that remain in our neighborhood, as discovered on meandering walks.

The coal chute (above) has lost its cast iron cover, and is simply cemented over.

The one below is cracked and now inaccessible because of a modern metal fence.

Ray DeCarava, the black and white mid-century photographer of Harlem and the 1950’s jazz scene, took this photo of a child on a sidewalk with a coal chute cover in the foreground.

This coal chute cover, today is shown below. Note how much more worn the stars are after an extra 70 years of foot traffic.

Chaiwali’s Founder and Executive Chef, Anita Trehan

Thrillist has a list out of women-owned restaurants with innovative and exceptional cuisine. Chaiwali’s very own Anita Trehan is profiled:

Chaiwali (@chaiwalinyc)

For self-taught chef and owner of Harlem-based eatery, Chaiwali, it was Anita Trehan’s natural talent in melding flavors—not family recipes or maternal influences—that led to opening her popular plant-based Indian restaurant. 

“I’ve never been to culinary school, or to a restaurant school. I’ve never taken a single cooking class in my life, never followed a recipe book. Just like when you write something you know what you want to express—I know what I want my food to taste like,” says Trehan. 

Even naming her restaurant was an intuitive blend: Merging the word chai (the centering start to her day) with wali (the feminine version of the term, signifying “someone who does”) was the perfect alliance—recognizing it is women who are the true nurturers and center of any home or space. 

Tenant Legal Rights Workshop – March 16

M11 DSNY Depot Coming

The M11 DSNY depot is coming to 127th Street at the Potamkin site. Site clearing has been done, and the project is underway.

Note that M10 (Central Harlem) already park their trucks under the Metro North Tracks, between 130-132. Our neighborhood will have two open air DSNY lots. Other, wealthier communities have combined, and enclosed facilities even though our community has some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the city.

We need Council Member Diana Ayala to fight for the funding for a consolidated, enclosed DSNY depot.

NYC Now Has a Vaccine Tracker

To see the live version: https://public.tableau.com/views/COVID-19VaccinationTracker/Geography?:language=en&:display_count=y&:origin=viz_share_link

Black Businesses

Plenty to celebrate during both Black History Month and all year long:

Head to Uptown Grand Central’s Small Business Guidethen Listings or Map, then select “Black-Owned” as your detail. More than 100 restaurants, retail, barbershops/salons and fitness/wellness businesses will pop up. You can also search by “Historic,” to find businesses that have been around for 25 years or more (such as our own Omo Sade Skincare, above).

Have a business to add? This guide was built for our community, so email UGC at [email protected].

East Harlem Small Business Grant

Special thanks to Council Member Diana Ayala for helping to procure (with Gale Brewer and support from Union Settlement House) a much needed Small Business Grant:

Union Settlement, Council Member Diana Ayala, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and the NYC Economic Development Corp. are joining forces to offer a $4,000,000 Grant Program to East Harlem’s small businesses in need of COVID-19 financial assistance.

Applications are available at: tinyurl.com/y8fzh3b8

General Guidelines

  • • Grantees must be small businesses (20 or fewer employees).
  • • Annual revenue of less than $1,000,000.
  • • Operating within the boundaries of Manhattan Community District 11.
  • • Businesses must have been open and operating prior to March 1, 2020.
  • • Grants to be used to offset operating expenses (rent, utilities, payroll, insurance, and other operating costs), but may not exceed the lesser of:
    • * (a) three months of operating expenses; or
    • * (b) $20,000.

For more information call: (347) 567-6376

Full terms and conditions: (English) and (Spanish)