The Other Harlems

No, not the Haarlem in the Netherlands, the Harlems in Georgia, Montana, Florida, and Illinois.

This project doesn’t account for neighborhoods but only takes into consideration counties or towns. Thus our Harlem isn’t in the running. The population numbers of America’s other Harlems is interesting:

If you’d like to test drive another location, here’s the link:

Lindy Hop

The International Lindy Hop festival and competition comes to Harlem. If you’re into dance, you don’t want to miss world-class competitions, insightful dance classes with expert instructors, incredible live music, open social dancing late into the night, and swing community events like the World Lindy Hop Day celebration, walking tours of Harlem, the Black Lindy Hoppers’ Fund Swing Dance Museum, and more.

During Memorial Day Weekend 2023 (May 25–29), an estimated 1,000 swing dance and jazz music enthusiasts will gather in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood to “Celebrate Lindy Hop where it all began!” with the World Finals of the 2023 International Lindy Hop Championships.

Best of all, you’ll meet hundreds of other dancers, from all over the world, who are as passionate about Lindy Hop as you!


Participatory Budgeting

Life Expectancy

A fascinating map showing where people live longer, and where people die sooner:

America is seeing the greatest gap in life expectancy across regions in the last 40 years. While most people will live to 78, some Americans are likely to die more than a decade earlier if they happen to be born in a handful of other counties in the US.

Money has become an increasingly strong determinant of who will live longer. People in wealthy counties outlive their poorer counterparts by as much as 20 years now, the greatest gap that in ages that America has seen in 40 years. In South Dakota’s Oglala Lakota county, for example, the average life expectancy is 66.8, making it the worst county in America. The median income in Oglala Lakota is $30,347, which stands in stark contrast to Colorado’s Summit County where life expectancy is 86.9, making it the highest in the country. Median income in Summit is more than 2.5x higher than it is in Oglala Lakota. 

Diving deeper into the bottom five worst counties for life expectancy yields some interest results. Four of these five counties all have Native American populations higher than 80%. The remaining county, Union in Florida, is not majority Native American, but instead is home to the state’s largest prison population. On average, none of the 31,000 people in these five counties will live past the age of 70.

While lifespans have generally increased since 1980, a few pockets in America have actually seen decreasing life expectancy. 13 counties in the US have had falling life expectancy, 8 of which are in Kentucky and all of which are in the South. These counties are overwhelmingly white and have a high incidence of heart disease, cancer, and drug overdoses.

See the full article, here:

The Triboro Bridge

In the photo below, the Queens Tower of the Triborough Bridge is in the foreground. Behind it is the Wards Island tower, and beyond (a little bit in the bottom right of the photo) is Harlem. The photo was taken in 1934.

Stoop Sale – Sunday!

Black Star Lines

A great map of Harlem, showing sites both secular and sacred:

Molly Roy, the cartographer, and designer, produced the map in Nonstop Metropolis, a culminating volume in a trilogy of atlases. Her work (she has a number of maps in the atlas) reveals the intimate, ephemeral, and complex experiences of New York City. The larger work (the atlas) has twenty-six imaginative maps and informative essays. The book merges the insights of dozens of experts, from linguists to historians of music, urbanism, and ethnography to environmental journalists, amplified by cartographers, artists, and photographers, it explores all five boroughs of New York City and parts of nearby New Jersey.

Nonstop Metropolis reveals New York’s buried layers, scrutinizes its political heft, and discovers the unexpected in one of the most iconic cities in the world. It is both a challenge and an homage to how New Yorkers think of their city, and how the world sees this capital of capitalism, culture, immigration and more.

Dorrance Brooks Community Clean-up Day

Spatial Information Design Lab

Since 2005, Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab has been exploring the geography of incarceration. In their project The Pattern, the Columbia University team looks at the relationship between impoverished communities and their physical infrastructure, racial make-up, community investment, and incarceration. The Design Lab’s resulting maps are fascinating explorations of how we have not only spatially concentrated poverty, but how this oversaturation then contributes to scores of spill-over effects that cost society billions of dollars.

The project begins with a map of poverty in New York City:

A detail of the (above) map of poverty is below:

Below is a map of New York City’s communities with concentrated incarceration rates:

A detail of the (above) map of incarceration is below:

Below, the Spatial Information Design Project shows expenditures on incarceration – how much money is spent to incarcerate people from various New York Neighborhoods:

A detail of the (above) map of prison expenditures is below:

To read the report and note how similar the patterns are in city, after city, after city in America, see:

Harlem’s Ginger Beer

If you like ginger beer, Karl Franz Williams is ready to serve up his ginger beer that is currently celebrating it’s first anniversary.

Williams is a veteran in the beverage industry (having worked at Pepsi) but he’s now focused on his bar and ginger beer that was inspired by his grandfather’s love for fresh juices. This reimagined ginger beer is named after his grandfather — known to the family as Uncle Waithley.

“It makes me really proud just to see that legacy that my grandfather left and he gave me,” Williams said. “Developing this idea of taking care of yourself and living well that was important to him and that passed down from my father to me.”

He says “Uncle Waithleys” is now available in supermarkets like Whole Foods — but fast forward to a busy night at his bar he says watching people enjoy his ginger beer gives him the most pleasure.

To see the Spectrum news article, click here:

Where Is Harlem?

In a 1948 subway and bus route guide to New York City, Harlem’s boundaries are given as:

Between 110th and 155th Sts., around Park and Lenox Aves.

However you define Harlem, this piece from Curbed is a great dive into the invariably shifting boundaries of this northern Manhattan community:

Above is an approximate mapping of racial/ethnic groups in Harlem in 1923 according to the Curbed article.

Former Pathmark Site Plans

The former Pathmark site is now planned to be a 415,000-square-foot project with 543 apartments

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development has other plans for an East Harlem site at 180 East 125th Street. Instead of moving ahead on an office project in a troubled commercial office environment, his firm is pivoting to a project that will add 543 apartments to the neighborhood instead.

The 15-story building will span 415,000 square feet, pending the approval of a zoning bonus for locating a grocery store at the building as part of the city’s FRESH foods program. The building would also include 24,500 square feet of commercial space. The building would also include 24,500 square feet of commercial space.

Extell acquired the 42,500-square-foot parcel in 2014, spending $39 million on the land and $21 million to buy out the lease of a supermarket, an act which drew community opposition.

Foundation work on the residential project is estimated to begin in March, with a completion date of April 2025, according to the developer’s zoning application, which indicates 30 percent of apartments would be affordable under the 421a tax abatement.

Extell bought the west side of the block — a 36,000-square-foot parcel that belonged to the Postal Service — in 2014 for $10 million

The residential project would leave the western parcel untouched and Extell would develop the site “in coordination with the MTA” after it acquires the fee title to build a Second Avenue Subway terminal at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, according to the zoning application.

Extell and the Durst Organization have spent hundreds of millions buying up land near the future terminus of the Q line train.

City Council member Diana Ayala declined to comment on the project. The Department of City Planning has referred Extell’s zoning request to the local community board, which has until March 22 to review the application.

Haarlem vs. Harlem

The oldest map that shows habitation in Harlem is the Manatus Map from 1639.

You can see Staten Island, Hell Gate, the Hudson river, etc. It’s unclear who the cartographer was, and the original drawing is lost. As a result, the image above is one of two later 17th-century copies made in the same studio with slight differences.

When zoomed in, note what Harlem ‘looked like’ in the mid 17th century (see the houses marked 18 and 19 as being around 2nd Avenue and 103rd street:

Recently, in Boston, I spotted a Haarlem town hall painting from the Museum of Fine Arts, which depicted Haarlem at almost the exact same time (1630), across the Atlantic:

The work is by Pieter Saenredam and commemorates the entry of the Prince of Orange into Haarlem. Pieter Post painted the figures while Pieter Saenredam painted the townscape.

Harlem Cultural Festival Returns (this July)

Are you ready?

NYC is Greener Than Its Suburbs

(but you knew that)

Borough President Mark Levine highlighted an article in the NY Times that mapped energy usage (carbon footprint) on a district-by-district basis and showed the stark contrast between dense urban areas with many public transit options and car-centric suburbs:

East Harlem Featured in War Era Propaganda Film

An amazing film from 1945 promoting the democratic nature of mid-century public education. Students are seen addressing their ‘comrades’, and protest and activism is promoted. The result of the students’ work is shown to be the gleaming new projects in East Harlem.

The film is short, but you can jump to 18:26 to begin to see East Harlem students and street scenes. There are views of East Harlem from the FDR Drive, from above the Park Avenue MTA viaduct, and much more. Note the virtual absence of women, and the focus on the Italian East Harlem community.

The film was produced by the U.S. Office of War information, overseas branch. It is no. 8 in the American scene series. An Italian-language version accompanies the English.

What’s That Tree

Ever wondered what that tree is in front of your apartment? NYC’s Department of Parks has a new, interactive map of NYC’s trees, and you can explore the arboreal side of your neighborhood.

The color coding of dots (trees) above, show different varieties. You can, of course, zoom in more and even select on the basis of tree variety or size (as denoted by trunk diameter):

Looking at a random tree on West 124th Street (across from Marcus Garvey Park), the map brings up that it’s a Thornless honeylocust and has a trunk diameter of 15″:

To explore on your own, try this link:

As Seen In Harlem

On East 116th Street. Sadly, closed.

New City Council Boundaries

Community Council Districts 7, 8, and 9 have slightly altered boundaries. Here are the new lines for Community Council Districts 7 and 9:

And (below) are the new boundaries of Community Council District 8:

For the full map of Manhattan, see:

As Seen In Harlem

As seen in Harlem, on West 117th Street.

How To Get Rid Of Stuff?

Not Sure How To Get Rid Of Your Stuff? 
Paint, batteries, electronics—even clothing—there’s always something we don’t need taking up valuable space. Some items can live a second life with someone else, or may need to be safely disposed. We can help!

Visit and use our search tool to find your disposal options.

If you didn’t receive our June mailer highlighting all our disposal programs, you can download a PDF.

It’s available in English, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Yiddish.

Park Avenue Metro-North Viaduct Replacement Contract Awarded

The MTA will be awarding the Design-Build contract for the Park Avenue Viaduct Phase 1 Project to Halmar International, following yesterday’s MTA Board Meeting. The Phase 1 Project will replace the existing viaduct in its entirety from the north side of E. 115th Street to the south side of E. 123rd Street along Park Avenue in East Harlem.

Halmar International was selected by the MTA for providing the overall best value solution that also minimized impacts to the surrounding community. Proposals were evaluated against several criteria such as their plan and ability to minimize impacts to the public, including the surrounding businesses, residences, and community gathering facilities, as well as the pedestrian and vehicular traffic through and adjacent to the project, while also minimizing impact to Metro-North Customers, and the Harlem–125th Street station. The project is expected to reduce local noise and vibration levels compared to those from the existing viaduct by utilizing modern design and materials. 

Additionally, as part of the Project Labor Agreement, the MTA and Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) are working together to provide meaningful training and job opportunities for the local residents of Harlem. With partners in the Apprenticeship Readiness Collective (ARC), the MTA and BCTC commit to providing pre-apprenticeship training for Harlem residents that have real pathways into union jobs created by the construction of the project. 

MTA and Halmar International will work together to uphold MTA’s commitment to minimize disruption to the surrounding community and deliver the project as safely and quickly as possible. 

We currently anticipate construction to begin in the second quarter of 2023, and expect it to be complete in 2026. The community can also expect regular communication, during construction, including regular updates and at key milestones on the project’s webpage and dedicated email address ([email protected]) to field concerns.

We appreciate your continued partnership on this as we deliver this vital infrastructure project as safely and efficiently as possible.

Thank you,

Park Avenue Viaduct Project Team

  • The Park Avenue Viaduct is an elevated steel structure built in 1893 (128 years ago) which carries four Metro-North Railroad tracks above Park Avenue in East Harlem.
  • 98% of all Metro-North trains use the viaduct
  • 750 trains and 220,000 customers use the viaduct on a typical (Pre-Covid) weekday
  • The viaduct served 5.3 million customers at Harlem-125 Street Station in 2019
  • Harlem-125th Street Station is 3rd busiest in Metro-North system (PreCovid)