No, the Harlem World’s Fair did not happen in 1883, nor did it happen at all. But it was proposed in this great illustration from Demarest’s Monthly Magazine, November 1879 (thank you to Harlem Bespoke that originally drew my attention to this image):
The fair would essentially be on the Columbia University land, and stretch from Morningside Park to Riverside Park, and bound on the south side by 110th, and on 125th, on the north.
Note the elevated line entering the frame on the bottom left, on 9th Avenue, then zig zagging to 8th Ave. in the curve of death (a ‘popular’ suicide location before the train was rerouted underground under Central Park West:
In the postcard above, note St.John’s the Devine under the tracks, in the distance – just one arch built.
I’m sharing an upcoming event on Thursday, April 20th in celebration of Earth day. Our event, Walk-N-Talk Compost Tours, will take folks on a walking tour of three community composting sites in West Harlem: Maggie’s Garden, Frank White Memorial Garden, and Jenny’s Garden. Tours will start at 11AM and 2PM.
I thought this would be a great opportunity if you are interested in seeing a variety of community-scale composting systems! This free event is a part of the Master Composter Certificate Course, however you don’t need to pursue the certification in order to join.
Here are the registration links for the individual tours:
56 years ago today, Mayor John Lindsay vowed to revitalize Mount Morris Park (soon to be renamed Marcus Garvey Park) . The west side of the park looked like this (image looking northbound towards the corner of Mount Morris West and West 124th Street):
Mayor Lindsay vowed to revitalize and announced the project with a billboard:
The result was the amphitheater and the pool. Perhaps most dramatically was Mayor Lindsay arriving at the park by helicopter, and landing on the acropolis:
Some great CONFIRMED news coming up for all of us at Marcus Garvey Park & there is more good stuff brewing.
FUNDING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
1. $12 million designated by Mayor Adams for stone repair and rat abatement / awaiting information on timeline as this was recently announced.
2. $1.7 million allocated by City Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan for “Green 2 Greener Initiative”/ sustainable energy solutions (we are working with her office & capital & planning offices at Parks now to finalize this plan)
3. $1.6 million committed by State Sen. Cordell Cleare for NW small playground / awaiting information on timeline as state funding moves more slowly than city funding
4. State of Good Repair Grant for repaving of the entire NW and SW sections of the park which will add new curbing, paver stones and (5) ADA entrances and fix the drainage issues inside the 123rd & MMPW entrance where the “lake” forms (expected to begin in early November 2023)
NEW HARLEM HORT HQ
— $50,000+ pledged by New York Junior League to finish needed work and open this to the public in June 2023
You may have noticed (2) greenhouses set up at the east end of the pool. Mike, Erick & I have been building out our plan to create a horticultural headquarters (HQ) that will do the following:
1. enable us to cultivate our own plants for Marcus Garvey & for the other (3) historic Harlem parks
2. enable us to offer free public horticulture programming (workshops, demonstrations, author talks, arts horticulture events, etc) by our Parks horticulture experts and with interested partners including GreenThumb, Partnerships for Parks, Harlem Grown, City Gardens Club, Horticultural Society & others
3. offer a meetup spot for the uptown gardening/hort community such as GreenThumb gardeners who have never had a central meet up site
4. create a hort volunteering meet up place where schedules can be posted, signup and pickup of tools, gloves, etc, can happen
5. offer a beautiful positive space for the community that can be used for events, meditation, etc.
$1.3 MILLION GRANT FROM MELLON FOUNDATION TO HARLEM GROWN
Harlem Grown submitted a grant to Mellon Foundation to provide support to Marcus Garvey as a cultural heritage site. This grant will provide the following:
1. support / fund new & existing community programming
2. support more public art in the park
3. support the mobile Harlem Grown teaching food kitchen in the park
4. support community engagement for the park
NEW COMMUNITY ROOM BY BALLFIELD TO BE AVAILABLE TO COMMUNITY PARTNERS / HARLEM LITTLE LEAGUE
The new comfort station between the ballfield and amphitheater has a community room inside of it that I can begin scheduling now for use by community partners such as Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, MMPCIA, Harlem Little League and others. Please contact me if your group wants to schedule time in the room for a meeting, community engagement forum, a membership recruitment event, etc. We are very excited to officially open this room with our great park partner — Harlem Little League in April as they kick off another season !
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
State NY Parks office has taken the lead working with me and our 2 parks groups to submit nomination paperwork for Marcus Garvey Park to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. We have moved forward to the next nomination round. If selected, this would provide more opportunities for needed funding such as for the acropolis.
ON POINT PARTNERSHIP REDUCES NEEDLES & MORE IN THE PARK
Our partnership with On Point, a drug treatment center on E. 126th, has helped us reduce the following:
1. # of needles in the park
2. the # of drug-addicted people choosing the park to inject/use
3. the # of people our PEP unit (Parks Enforcement Patrol) saves the lives of via NARCAN, which enables PEP to focus on its primary job of public safety
HARLEM EAT UP COMING TO THE PARK IN SEPTEMBER / OTHER KEY PROGRAMMING
I have been working with Harlem Eat Up to move their great food event from Morningside Park to Marcus Garvey Park, which is confirmed. Red Rooster’s own local & global celebrity Marcus Samuelsson created this local focus on great Harlem restaurants. The official event will take place September 9-10. We are finalizing logisitics and working with our Parks special events team. I will keep you informed on this great news.
Other key programming of our April – November schedule includes events being planned / confirmed per below:
MARCH – Bethel Gospel Social Justice & Community Volunteer Event
APRIL – Earth Day Community Volunteer Event
MAY – Mother’s Day Gardening Day
JUNE – Harlem HQ Opening Weekend and later in the month the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Festival
JULY – Classical Theatre of Harlem with annual free Shakespeare in the park & Jazzmobile Fridays
AUGUST – Jazzmobile Fridays continue & Charlie Parker Jazz Festival
SEPTEMBER – 3rd Annual Opening Night of MET Opera
OCTOBER – 2nd Annual Halloween Fright Night
TRAIL BOARDS FOR THE PARK
I have submitted for budgeting approval for (2-3) trail boards — bulletin boards – to be installed in the park to share news from Parks / city agencies and our (2) park groups, Marcus Garvey Park Alliance & MMPCIA with the public.
Please consider volunteering for the park as we always need interested people from the park community, partner park groups, schools, churches, etc, to help our small staff with the following:
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.
NYC City Councilman Keith Power has re-introduced a bill, Intro 632-2022, to ban the use of criminal background checks in rental & sale applications. This bill is supported by both Councilmembers Jordan and Ayala.
You can participate in VoterVoice to voice your opinion (for or against) bill, Intro. 632. VoterVoice will allow you to send messages directly to your Council representative:
The Fordham Hill Owners Corporation (a majority Black homeowners group in the Bronx that has worked with HNBA on the issue of oversaturation) sent the following to HNBA, regarding the proposed ‘No Criminal Background Checks’ bill, Intro 632-2022:
Hello All, I hope you all enjoyed a peaceful and safe holiday with your loved ones. It has been some time since we communicated. I am reaching out to you all in regard to another battle I ask you to join the fight on as we continue to try to take back our city that is being destabilized right in front of our eyes. By now you all have probably heard of the Fair Chance Housing Bill that the progressive wing of the New York City Council is aggressively trying to get passed. An earlier version of the bill died in another Council committee at the end of last year when bill creator Councilmember Kevin Powers introduced it. He has now found an audience in the City Council to actually move this bill forward. What is so scary about this bill is it is just like bail reform; it is not fully thought through. This bill seeks to protect criminal offenders but doesn’t take families or law abiding citizens into consideration. This isn’t about redemption, for me I am all about rehabilitation and second chances, but this is once again about elected officials not engaging their constituency before passing legislation. This isn’t just troubling for landlords and all of us but also for condos and cooperatives that have been formed by visionaries to create living quarters, an investment that provides the quality of life that has often been lacking for many working and middle class in this gilded city. Especially for people of color, a co-op like Fordham Hill Owners Corporation, offers our shareholders an opportunity to acquire an asset that they can safely call their home and gain equity. Here are several troubling callouts about this bill:
Criminal background checks on sex offenders is only regulated to New York State. If you are an out of state offender and seek residence in NYS you will go undetected.
Murder, attempted murder, robbery, and other unethical white color crimes will be hidden from the view of landloards and boards.
There is no probationary clause in the bill that model behavior has to be proven. (For instance 7-10 years of no offence and providing work/school history since entry back into society).
Modestly priced coops and rentals (often in communities of color) will most likely receive more of these applicants making us more vulnerable.
I am not sure among us what position is being taken and who has galvanized their communities. Feel free to reach out to me. Communities and organizations can testify next Thursday, December 8 at 10:00 am at the Civil Rights Committee. Please register to speak at https://council.nyc.gov/testify/Please organize your communities to reach out to your council members. Elections are coming up so we do have leverage here. Let’s join together and try to pull a victory out of this one. We at least can make the City Council go back and make the proper modifications to this bill. Thank you, Rachel
Marcus Garvey Park Tree Lighting
On Thursday, December 8th, at 5 PM, bring your family and neighbors to meet at 124th Street and 5th Avenue to celebrate Marcus Garvey Park’s tree lighting ceremony and multi-cultural celebration:
In 1914, an otherwise non-descript tenement in East Harlem looked like this:
The location is on Lexington Ave. near 103rd Street East, and remarkably, they repaired this damage – rather than tear down the building (admittedly, the building was only 4 years old at the time – it was built in 1910):
At 9:16 a.m. on July 4, 1914, a premature dynamite explosion in an anarchist bomb factory blew the roof off a tenement at 1626 Lexington Avenue, near 103rd Street, wrecking three floors, killing four people, injuring a score of others and spewing debris for blocks.
The police identified the intended target of the homemade bomb as John D. Rockefeller. Protests were staged at their homes, offices in Manhattan and at their estate in Pocantico Hills in Westchester County, where two of the alleged bomb-makers had once wound up on trial.
The police linked the deceased bombers to the Industrial Workers of the World, specifically to Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, radicals who a few years later would be deported to Russia.
The 1914 explosion killed Charles Berg, Arthur Caron and Carl Hanson, all linked to the Rockefeller assassination plot, and Marie Chavez, who rented a room in the sixth floor apartment but was not believed to have been involved in the conspiracy.
A year later, the police found another bomb hidden in the driveway of the Tarrytown home of John D. Archbold, the president of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.