Night Watch

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, or been in an art history class, odds are that you’ve come across the painting Night Watch by Rembrandt. This famous painting shows a group of well off townsfolk who’ve assembled with weapons and a drum, to ostensibly keep the peace in their town.

The painting is, of course, a life-size puff-piece to celebrate the men at the center of power, their taste in clothing, their fancy weapons, and their bonds to one another.

What then, does this painting from 1642 have to do with Harlem? Well, at almost exactly the time when this painting was commissioned and completed by Rembrandt (take a look at the scale of it, below, under restoration), our Harlem created its own night watch to protect the inhabitants.

The members of the 1676 Harlem night watch were admonished to:

  • The whole or half corporalships, whose turn it is to watch, shall in the evening, at the hour of eight, upon beat of the drum, be in full number at the watch-house, shall place their sentinels, and take the necessary rounds: and shall not retire before the beating of the morning reveille; upon a forfeiture, fixed or to be fixed, of 3 guilders. 
  • Whoever neglects the watch without a lawful cause, or making the same known to his corporal beforehand, shall each time forfeit 6 guilders. 
  • Each watchman coming to the watch shall be provided with suitable side and hand arms ; also with sufficient powder and lead, upon forfeit of 3 guilders. 
  • The watch shall be kept quiet, without much calling or noise, upon penalty of 3 guilders.

CB11 Report

Harlem neighbors,

Thanks to your feedback to the Mayor, some of our elected officials have taken action to address quality of life issues on 125th street and its vicinity.

Earlier this month, in Community Board 11’s Full Board meeting, City Council member Diana Ayala’s representative gave an update on the outcome of the Mayor’s visit on 125th street, as reported by Patch here on November 10 this year.

1) Arrangement was made for the street to be powered washed everyday unless temperature drop below freezing point (exactly where is unclear)

2) Increased density of police patrolling 125h street

3) Increased density of homeless services agents on the street

4) Extell on the Pathmark site has been requested to put on lighting on the construction site on their sidewalks to improve safety and discourage loitering

5) A handful of arrests have been made. Those related to K2 synthetic drug sale, were immediately released due to a loophole in the law. (Note they can’t say whether the arrests were due to long standing investigations or newly initiated ones)

6) A task force headed by Diana Ayala has been created to meet with relevant agencies to tackle this problem on an on-going basis. (note the meeting is currently not opened to public but is attended by community board leaders)

When asked what she thinks is the root cause of these problems, Ayala says it is due to homelessness, drug dealing, the drop-off of homeless shelter residents from Wards Island, and COVID. She said it is a long-standing problem and thus will take time to fix.
CB11 vice-chair Xavier thanked Robert Rodriguez and Brian Benjamin’s office to help get OASAS to show up to today’s meeting. Xavier also announced that a resolution for a moratorium of increase of harm reduction services in East Harlem will be on the agenda in the next full board on Jan 26.