The New York photographer, Percy Loomis Sperr, was interested in everyday people and how their lives were lived in the 1920s to the 1940s. Sperr sought to document and preserve the city as fully as possible.
Born on December 27, 1899, Sperr attended Oberlin College, and by the 1920s was venturing into East Harlem to document the culture he encountered there. He was, in particular, attracted to the immigrant culture of Halrm, describing with sympathy the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua in Manhattan.
The photo (above) focuses on a large ex-voto, constructed in East Harlem to thank Saint Anthony of Padua (in 1932) for saving an Italian-American man from death at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.
The photo is at the corner of 1st Avenue and 106th Street, a dense Italian immigrant community during the depression.
Sleighs in 19th Century Harlem
25th Precinct’s Community Council January Meeting
2022 has come in like whirlwind. We have a lot to cover. Many of you have reached out about a number of things and I would like to do some due diligence in covering the topics. Please send your questions and/or concerns to me in a separate email so that I can invite appropriate people/personnel to join the meeting to respond to your inquiries. This month’s meeting will be totally remote. If there is anyone that needs accommodations to meet a different way please let me know and I will do my best at helping you out. If it means that I have to set up in the Precinct we will follow all necessary precautions outlined by NYDOH.
Its address is 2 Sylvan Court — a blind alley with just seven homes that’s located off East 121st Street between Lexington and Third avenues. Sales there are far from common, with just one deal recorded since 2017 — that one being for this home, which traded hands for $1.32 million late that year. Before that, the most recent home on Sylvan Court, at No. 4, sold in 2011.
This photo of Randall’s and Wards’ Islands during the depression (just after the Triborough Bridge was completed by Robert Moses) is fascinating in the ways in which you can see how dramatically the bridge, the island/s, and Harlem have changed in the last 80 years or so.
Note how recently constructed Astoria park (between the arched train bridge and the car bridge on the right hand side) is so new there are no trees and seemingly no grass – just the white reflection of bulldozed dirt.
Above you can see (at the bottom right) the new sewage disposal facility – state of the art in the 1930s, and still the place where everything you flush goes today in 2021.
Also (still in the photo above) note how distinctly Wards Island (below) and Randall’s Island (above) are separated. The 3rd island (top right) is now also joined to the other two, and the fill was leveled to create a series of sports fields and a tennis center.
In the blurry photo above, you can see how the Harlem waterfront (on the East River) had a number of working docks. Also the scraped dirt (white) area in the middle of the photo with a running track, is Jefferson Park – a park created by Moses by bulldozing a number of city blocks – mostly filled with East Harlem Italian residents.
In the photo above – showing the Triborough from 125th Street to Randall’s Island, note just above it, the swing-gate for the Willis Avenue bridge is open to boat traffic, and just above that (black and admittedly blurry) is the 2nd Avenue El, headed from Manhattan, over the Harlem River, and into the Bronx.
The Stadium (above) is where Jesse Owens qualified for the Berlin Olympics, and is now the Icahn Stadium and the site of numerous music festivals.
Lastly, take a look at the traffic on the vehicular bridge. Amazing.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the Second Avenue Subway expansion project that would extend the Second Avenue line to 125th Street in East Harlem has moved to the engineering phase of the project timeline.
Governor Kathy Hochul and the MTA announced that the 2nd Avenue Subway expansion project will now enter the engineering phase.
This is all due to the InfrastructureInvestment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden in November that has provided $23 billion in new grant opportunities for transit expansion, a historic level of funding that is now being used in Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway (SAS2).
Phase 2 will include the construction of three new subway stations at 106th Street, 116th Street, and 125th Street in East Harlem. The governor noted that she’d spoken to “Secretary Buttigieg who shared the exciting news that the U.S. Department of Transportation is making a huge step forward on Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway expansion, which will unlock incredible potential for the people of East Harlem in expanding transit equity and economic opportunity.” She also noted that she has made a clear commitment to the people of East Harlem that she would keep this project moving swiftly.
Approximately 70% of East Harlem residents use public transportation to get to work, much higher than the citywide average of 55%. The expansion of the Second Avenue Subway would help advance the Biden administration’s and New York State’s goal for transportation equity and would improve the local community’s access to jobs, health care, and other services, while reducing congestion, both on the streets and on the Lexington Avenue subway line and improving air quality.
MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “The East Harlem community has been waiting for the Second Avenue Subway for decades. The new line extension will build on the success of Phase 1 and bring the total Second Avenue Subway ridership to 300,000, which is equivalent to the entire Philadelphia rail system. A big thank you to the FTA for moving the project to the next stage. My team is ready to go.”
Phase 1 of the project extended the Q line from 63rd Street to 96th Street and was New York City’s biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years. Service opened on January 1, 2017, with additional stations at 72nd Street and 86th Street. Since its completion, the Second Avenue Subway has carried more than 130 million passengers and carried more than 200,000 passengers on a pre-pandemic day.
Fast facts to know
This phase of the project will extend train service from 96th Street north to 125th Street, approximately 1.5 miles;
There will be new stations at 106th Street and 116th Street on Second Avenue and 125th Street at Park Avenue;
Phase 2 will provide direct passenger connections to the Lexington Avenue (4/5/6) subway line at 125th Street and an entrance at Park Avenue to allow convenient transfers to the Metro-North Railroad 125 Street Station;
Each station will have above-ground ancillary buildings that house ventilation mechanical and electrical equipment. These will include space for possible ground-floor retail;
Expansion will serve an additional 100,000 daily riders;
Will provide three new ADA-accessible stations – raising the bar for customer comfort and convenience; and
Increased multimodal transit connectivity at the 125th Street station – with connections to the 4/5/6, Metro-North trains and the M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport, allowing convenient transfers to other subway and commuter rail lines, facilitating smoother, faster transportation across the city and region.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, “The Second Avenue Subway Phase II project advancing into project engineering is great news for the people of East Harlem and all of New York City. Long envisioned – but unfortunately too long delayed – the project is now full-speed ahead. I was pleased to secure the historic $23 billion in grant funding for mass transit capital projects in the bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs law, and will fight to ensure this critical project gets its fair share.”
In one of her first acts as a city council representative, Kristin Jordan was one of only 2 city council members who did not vote for Adrienne Adams the first Black City Council Speaker in the history of New York City. Jordan was one of only two colleagues to vote against Adrienne Adams.
In her speech, Adrienne Adams singled out the impact that two Harlem legends had on her and on all African Americans fighting for change and justice in America:
You can read Adrienne Adams speech, here:
And with the weather, here is a great 19th-century image of a Harlem scene.
Transportation Alternatives is floating an idea on how to address the endemic double parking on 125th Street that effectively blocks bus traffic, forcing busses to veer into traffic lanes, causing more congestion and slowdowns.
The proposal is to take the bus lanes which are located on the edges of the street, and instead put them in the center of the road.
Bus lanes ensure that disproportionately low-income and BIPOC bus riders aren’t stuck in the traffic created by private vehicles. They propose the city install center-running bus lanes to minimize double parking and delays by private vehicles, and allow for a cycle track.
They also propose more greenery to combat high pollution and asthma in our community. In times of extreme weather, trees increase a city’s resiliency. During summer heat, their shade can lower surface temperatures by up to 20°C, and during heavy rain, a single street tree can reduce runoff by around 60 percent. Throughout the year, they also clean the air: one tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually.
Lastly, parking spaces for bicycles along 125th street can combine waste receptacles as well as secure bike parking. Moving trash from piles on the sidewalk to sturdy containers in the street will increase pedestrian space, ease the work of sanitation workers, and reduce rat populations while creating secure bike parking will expand access and reduce maintenance costs for bike owners.
City Councilwoman Kristin Richardson Jordan, and concerned residents of central Harlem, will lead a protest on Monday January 3, 2022 to fight against the “One45” development, proposed for the corner of Lenox avenue and West 145th street. The proposal to construct two 363-foot-tall towers, a civil rights museum and new headquarters for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, has been met with much scrutiny from local residents who feel developer Bruce Teitelbaum, and all other profiting parties, have not adequately engaged or even considered the voices of the majority black neighborhood.
Central Harlem has experienced deep gentrification in the last few decades, which is only rapidly increasing. Newly released census data revealed that Harlem gained more than 18,000 white residents since 2010, while losing more than 10,000 Black residents. According to Councilwoman Richardson Jordan, “Harlem is not for sale” and the One45 development has the intent and effect of further harming and displacing the community she represents. As a third generation Harlemite, the Councilwoman has promised to fight against the displacement of Black and Brown people in her district and the erasure of Harlem’s rich Black heritage, culture and radical tradition. “We cannot sacrifice the lives of humans for the sake of a museum and unaffordable luxury living for the privileged few. We need to prioritize the lives of our fellow Harlemites”, she states.
The project, pictured below, would include 900+ apartments – including up to 282 units set aside as affordable – in addition to the museum and NAN headquarters.
How To Eat Your Way Through Black Owned- Harlem
Travel Noire has a tight summary of some wonderful Black-owned eating and drinking establishments in Harlem. Have a look, see which ones you can check-off, and put the rest on your bucket list for 2022:
New Voices is a grass roots political action committee founded by local civic leaders in Upper Manhattan to promote greater participation and transparency in the local political process by registering new voters and providing members with the training, guidance, and resources needed for everyday New Yorkers to run for positions within the New York County Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is governed by committees of citizens who are registered Democrats, from the national level down to state and community-level. The County is the most local level of party governance in New York.
New York County positions such as District Leader, Judicial Delegate, and County Committee are unpaid elected positions that wield major influence to shape the local Party’s platform, hold elected leaders accountable, and elect leaders to state/federal office or judgeships.
The problem- hundreds of county committee positions are left vacant each year undermining the democratic process and allowing only a few people to have say in the political process for New York County (Manhattan).
New Voices is here to engage the next generation of Democratic leadership and allow everyday New Yorkers to make their voices heard in the political process.
First and foremost Happy New Year to you all. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and enjoyed the time with their family and loved ones. For those of you who are not aware, we had a shooting incident regarding an off duty officer here in the 25 precinct. Around 0730 hours, Police Officer Keith Wagenhauser was off duty in his private vehicle in the parking lot of the 25 PCT when his driver side rear window was struck by a stray bullet causing it to shatter. Keith just completed working an overtime midnight detail in central parking after working his regular scheduled tour and because the department mandated every member of service to work on both January 1, 2022 and January 2, 2022 for coverage, Keith had to work another tour in a few hours. He planned to take a nap in the dorm rooms but due to the lack of space and size of the doom rooms in the command there were no more beds available, so he went to take a nap in his car instead. Keith suffered multiple lacerations from broken glass fragments and a fractured skull. He was removed to Cornell Hospital. Surgery was successful and they inserted a titanium plate in his skull. He is resting well with his wife and children at his bedside.
We do not believe he was an intended target. We had another officer in the parking lot at the time of the incident, and he did not hear any gun shots. We also did not have any shot spotter activations in the immediate area. These investigative leads, as well as others, is leading us at this time to believe it was a bullet that was fired from several blocks away, and as it came back down, it just happened to strike him in his skull. He is the unluckiest, and at the same time, the luckiest person in the world.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you for the tremendous outpouring of support. It really makes a significant difference on the moral of the officers involved, as well as to Keith and his family.