Mike, The Knife Sharpener

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Mike is planning to return to our neighborhood this Wednesday. We’ll put out details when we know more.

Great prices, great sharpening, just in time for the holidays (even though we have much smaller celebrations this year, it is still great to have sharp knives for cooking!)

The Dark Tower

A’Lelia Walker’s home at 108 West 136th Street (from 1885-1931) – one of the key cultural nodes of the Harlem Renaissance – was known as “The Dark Tower”. This residence became famous for the lavish salons which she hosted – drawing in writers, musicians, and artists during the 1920s. It was named after a sonnet by the poet Countee Cullen:

From the Dark Tower

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made to eternally weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

 A’Lelia Walker was the only child of Madam C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur and hair care industry pioneer who is recognized as America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Her Irvington, New York, home, Villa Lewaro, is a National Treasure of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

With her inheritance, A’Lelia purchased these two townhouses on West 136th Street and combined them into one residence with a new façade:

Cultural soirees for the Harlem and Greenwich Village “glitterati,” white and black, serving caviar and bootleg champagne and providing entertainment by queer performers and others like Alberta Hunter, Jimmy Daniels, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Muriel Draper, Nora Holt, Witter Bynner, Andy Razaf, Taylor Gordon, Carl Van Vechten, Clarence Darrow, James Weldon Johnson and many others attended and reveled in the Dark Tower’s glamour.

Langston Hughes later wrote that A’Lelia’s parties “were as crowded as the New York subway at the rush hour.”

In October 1927, the Dark Tower—envisioned as a private membership club—officially opened in a room within the Walker Studio, which had now expanded to the second and third floors of the townhouse.

One year after opening, in October 1928, the Dark Tower closed. Walker had begun charging for food and refreshments, which was a hard adjustment for many to make. She continued to rent the townhouse out for events, and she continued her arts patronage and philanthropic endeavors. But in 1929, the market crashed. Fewer parties were thrown during the Depression.

Walker died in 1931. After that point, the townhouse was rented out to the City of New York, which used the space for a health clinic. Then in 1941, the townhouse was demolished. In its place, the New York Public Library built what would become its Countee Cullen Branch.

For more check out the fantastic Code Switch Podcast.

Opioid Treatment Deserts

With new data from a recent FOIL request that was submitted to the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) we wanted to map the inverse of what people typically map – the absence of something. In particular, we were interested in learning which Community Districts in New York don’t have any OASAS licensed Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs). The resulting map (below) shows (in red) the communities in New York that have no OTPs and whose residents who are suffering from addiction to opioids have to travel to communities like ours, for treatment.

To explore the map yourself, see: https://fordham.carto.com/u/shill18/builder/8202e3cd-d7ca-4fc5-9c79-22d883c3b51d/embed

Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway

Riverside North

The west side walking, jogging, and cycling path – north of 120th Street – is hopefully going to get some more love. The Riverside North Park Initiative has managed to accomplish (over the past year):

Added professional staff

Worked alongside a neighborhood volunteer user group to secure funding for the City to formalize the 142nd Street Dog Run

Partnered with the West Harlem Development Corporation and engaged young people from Community District 9 in urban park management as part of our Teen Corps Program

Successfully advocated for the City to invest $4.1 million in repaving funds, which will include the areas around 148th Street

Delivered public programs to West Harlem Piers Park

Hosted public programming at 148th Street waterfront, the 172nd Street waterfront, and the Little Red Lighthouse at 181st Street

Partnered with Natural Areas Conservancy to conduct assessments and develop management plans for the forested areas at 146th–151st Streets, and around 181st Street

Began managing the concession to teach tennis at the 172nd Street courts, and revenues generated will be invested back into the area

Provided sustained care and support to the volunteer-lead Riverside Valley Community Garden (“Jenny’s Garden”)

Improved the Park entrances at 120th, 125th, 138th, 148th, and 151st Streets

And for 2021 and beyond they hope to:

Increase professional gardening staff north of 120th Street

Further improve the park entrances at 148th, 151st, and 158th Street

Repair and ongoing maintenance of 148th Street baseball fields

Concession at 151st Street entrance

Complete renovation and add comfort station at 10 Mile River Playground at 148th Street

158th Street basketball court resurfacing and solution for drainage issues

Ongoing forest restoration and care in the woodlands at 146th–151st Streets, and 181st Streets

Add comfort station at Discovery Playground

Deliver adult exercise equipment, additional picnic tables, and a bicycle education center

Resurface tennis courts at 172nd Street

Repair or replace broken benches on Riverside Drive

Complete a world class dog run at 142nd Street

Replace the fence and repair dangerous paving conditions from 120th Street to 125th Street

Address dangerous bicycle/pedestrian conflicts

Repair drainage infrastructure on Riverside Drive at 138th Street

Deliver 3 years of new free public programming to North Park

DSNY Manhattan Community Coordinator

Marissa Yanni – DSNY’s Manhattan Community Affairs Liaison – appeared at this week’s 25th Precinct Community Council meeting and offered that we could contact her directly with any questions or to report any sanitation issues in East Harlem and Harlem. Marissa’s contact information is:

[email protected]

After the mayor’s walkabout in East Harlem, agencies like DSNY are (for the moment) focused on our community and would like you to identify areas of concern.

The Last King of France, Lived in Exile, in Harlem

Who knew?

Louis Philippe I was the last King of France – reigning from 1830 to 1848. Before 1848, he arrived and lived in Harlem as an exile.

Louis Philippe lived in the United States for four years, staying in, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1815, he moved into the historic Claremont Inn “one of the noble houses on the Island” in Harlem.

Claremont Inn was situated on the bluff above Manhattanville, overlooking what is now 125th Street (note the ferry docks on the Hudson that once took travelers to Fort Lee).

You can see it, and Grants Tomb (built much later, of course) here:

For more images of the Claremont Inn, see:

https://collections.mcny.org/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=24UP1GMTV1ABT

For more on Louis Phillippe, see:

https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com/louis-philippe-i-the-last-king-of-france-exiled-in-harlem-ny/

Crime Alert

On Wednesday, Captain Henning of the 25th Precinct went over the CompStat data and noted that there is an significant increase in property theft (from homes, cars, and work sites) between 125th and 135th streets. Please be extra vigilant and watch belongings, keep tempting items and packages out of sight.

For those car owners, it was also jaw-dropping to hear that he (the commanding officer) personally arrested a man this past month engaged in a car break-in. This individual had an arrest record of OVER 100 car break-ins. He was not held.

HRD

Untapped New York collected some wonderful images of the Harlem River Drive. Note in the first two images, the High Bridge (the bridge which brings Croton water into NYC) consists solely of masonry arches (your can see the Croton High Bridge tower on the right-hand side, above a white building):

Construction of the Harlem River Speedway began in 1894 with the carving of the bluffs overlooking the river. After its opening in 1896, it quickly became a tourist attraction where people could watch horse races on the track as well as boat races on the river. The track was as wide as one-hundred feet in some areas, allowing for several carriages to compete at once. The natural beauty of the surrounding scenery attracted spectators from all social classes. Thousands from around the country visited to watch planned parades and competitions, and rich sportsmen were satisfied with their exclusive speedway, using it heavily to train and display their horses. 

To read more about the history of the Harlem River Drive, see:

https://untappedcities.com/2020/10/30/harlem-river-drive-speedway-horse-race/

First Lady Michelle Obama Reflects on The 2020 and 2016 Elections

“This week, I’ve been reflecting a lot on where I was four years ago. Hillary Clinton had just been dealt a tough loss by a far closer margin than the one we’ve seen this year. I was hurt and disappointed—but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won. The American people had spoken. And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do. So my husband and I instructed our staffs to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power—one of the hallmarks of American democracy. We invited the folks from the president-elect’s team into our offices and prepared detailed memos for them, offering what we’d learned over the past eight years.

I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me. Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside. So I welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and talked with her about my experience, answering every question she had—from the heightened scrutiny that comes with being First Lady to what it’s like to raise kids in the White House.

I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do—because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego. Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently—the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger. This isn’t a game. So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.”

Drug Testing of Newborns and Parents

NEW YORK CITY COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATIONS INTO THREE MAJOR PRIVATE HOSPITAL SYSTEMS’ PRACTICES OF DRUG TESTING NEWBORNS AND PARENTS
The investigation seeks to determine whether the hospitals’ policies and practices target Black
and Latinx parents and infants
NEW YORK—Following concerns from advocacy groups regarding drug testing practices that
may disproportionately target Black and Latinx parents and infants, the New York City
Commission on Human Rights announces investigations into Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New
York Presbyterian hospitals, which, collectively, have facilities in the Bronx, Manhattan,
Brooklyn, and Queens. The investigations examine the hospitals’ policies and practices
regarding drug testing of pregnant people and newborns to assess whether those policies and
practices demonstrate discriminatory racial bias against Black and Latinx families. The
Commission-initiated investigation seeks to root out and end any such discriminatory practices.

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/press-releases/Hospitals_Press_Release_11-16-2020.pdf

Free COVID Tests and Flu Shots – Today

Uptown Grand Central will be hosting COVID testing and flu shots today at Fresh Food Box from 12-5 p.m.

The tests are the swab tests, and for those you can get results back in three days. They’ll also have the rapid tests available, with results back in 15 minutes. The swab tests are free, and the rapid tests have an additional fee ($100).

If the testers get enough foot traffic, Uptown Grand Central may be able to get the van to return with us for future weeks. 

Take care & mask up!

25th Precinct Community Council – Tonight

Kioka Jackson writes:

Hope you all are enjoying the chilly weather. 
Just wanted to remind you about tomorrow’s meeting which will begin at 6:00PM. Just as a point of clarity because of the rising COVID numbers we have decided not to do the hybrid meeting where we would have some people in-person and others join virtually.  This meeting is totally virtual via Zoom.  Hopefully, soon we will go back to some kind of normalcy where we can come out and enjoy a handshake or a hug. Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Because we have recently received a good number of questions and concerns around sanitation issues in our community we invited DSNY to be a part of this conversation.  Please have your questions ready.  We will try our best to get to everyone.  It is very important that we try to use the Zoom functions (Blue Raise Hand, Chat, and Mute) so that we can acknowledge everyone most effectively.  

Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 862 3516 0120
Passcode: 252020

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Meeting ID: 862 3516 0120
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JP Morgan Summer Internship Program for Black College Students

Harlem neighbors,

JP Morgan Chase has a summer internship program for black college sophomore students. This full time paid program lasts for 6 weeks. All majors are considered. Seats are opened in various major cities, including NYC. DEADLINE to apply is Dec 20. Click on this link to apply.

This competitive program is a great stepping stone to launch your career in the finance industry. Students will be given excellent access to senior managers in the firm. Please spread the words to your students, friends and family. To learn more, sign up for join an info session on Dec 2nd 5pm – 645pm Eastern time by Nov 29.

Chase Internship
Chase Internship Program

Holiday Lights Tonight

The 125th Street BID will light up West 125th Street tonight.

For more details on the festivities, see: https://harlemlightitup.vamonde.com/posts/event-details-turn-on-the-lights/10455/

Marilyn Monroe in Harlem

From the website: https://www.popspotsnyc.com/iconic_new_york_city_film_locations/

What the site doesn’t say is that one of her husbands – Arthur Miller – lived almost where the camera is, taking the photo. Miller was born in Manhattan and lived as a boy in Harlem in a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park. His father, Isidore, a Jewish émigré from Poland, owned a clothing business that allowed the family a certain level of luxury: three bathrooms, a chauffeur-driven car and a summer place in Far Rockaway. Before the stock market crash, the business began to fail, and so, in 1928, Isidore and his wife, Augusta — Izzie and Gussie — moved the family to the borough of churches and cheap rents – Brooklyn.

Arthur Miller wrote about the summer heat of New York, and how families near Central Park would cope in the New Yorker in 1998:

Before Air-Conditioning

The city in summer floated in a daze that moved otherwise sensible people to repeat endlessly the brainless greeting “Hot enough for ya? Ha-ha!”

By Arthur MillerJune 15, 1998

Exactly what year it was I can no longer recall—probably 1927 or ’28—there was an extraordinarily hot September, which hung on even after school had started and we were back from our Rockaway Beach bungalow. Every window in New York was open, and on the streets venders manning little carts chopped ice and sprinkled colored sugar over mounds of it for a couple of pennies. We kids would jump onto the back steps of the slow-moving, horse-drawn ice wagons and steal a chip or two; the ice smelled vaguely of manure but cooled palm and tongue.

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Water Swimwear Shorts Female Pool Bikini and Vehicle
Photograph by Weegee (Arthur Fellig) / International Center of Photography / Getty

People on West 110th Street, where I lived, were a little too bourgeois to sit out on their fire escapes, but around the corner on 111th and farther uptown mattresses were put out as night fell, and whole families lay on those iron balconies in their underwear.

Even through the nights, the pall of heat never broke. With a couple of other kids, I would go across 110th to the Park and walk among the hundreds of people, singles and families, who slept on the grass, next to their big alarm clocks, which set up a mild cacophony of the seconds passing, one clock’s ticks syncopating with another’s. Babies cried in the darkness, men’s deep voices murmured, and a woman let out an occasional high laugh beside the lake. I can recall only white people spread out on the grass; Harlem began above 116th Street then.

Later on, in the Depression thirties, the summers seemed even hotter. Out West, it was the time of the red sun and the dust storms, when whole desiccated farms blew away and sent the Okies, whom Steinbeck immortalized, out on their desperate treks toward the Pacific. My father had a small coat factory on Thirty-ninth Street then, with about a dozen men working sewing machines. Just to watch them handling thick woollen winter coats in that heat was, for me, a torture. The cutters were on piecework, paid by the number of seams they finished, so their lunch break was short—fifteen or twenty minutes. They brought their own food: bunches of radishes, a tomato perhaps, cucumbers, and a jar of thick sour cream, which went into a bowl they kept under the machines. A small loaf of pumpernickel also materialized, which they tore apart and used as a spoon to scoop up the cream and vegetables.

Read classic New Yorker stories, curated by our archivists and editors.

The men sweated a lot in those lofts, and I remember one worker who had a peculiar way of dripping. He was a tiny fellow, who disdained scissors, and, at the end of a seam, always bit off the thread instead of cutting it, so that inch-long strands stuck to his lower lip, and by the end of the day he had a multicolored beard His sweat poured onto those thread ends and dripped down onto the cloth, which he was constantly blotting with a rag.

For the full essay, see: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1998/06/22/before-air-conditioning

A Call for LegislationThe Bronx is Building

The Greater Harlem Coalition has recently written to our elected officials to ask them to begin the work of enacting legislation that will stop and then reverse the oversaturation of drug treatment programs in our community:

The Bronx is Building

A new rental building has been proposed for the Bronx waterfront between the Madison Avenue Bridge and the 145th Street Bridge. This new 43 story tower will be located between the Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River.

For more on this project, see:

CBS News Coverage of Oversaturation and the Explosion of Illegal Drug Dealing in Our Community

CBS News had a great piece last night on how Harlem and East Harlem are oversaturated with substance abuse programs which has attracted unprecedented numbers of illegal drug sellers who prey on the men and women seeking treatment.

Harlem residents showed the CBS reporter evidence of illegal drug sales and use – all concentrated around unsupervised addiction programs that are supposed to help New Yorkers get off drugs.

The President of MMPIA, the co-founder of The Greater Harlem Coalition, and others all showed the reporter video evidence and presented him with the data from FOIL requests to backup their claim that New York is dumping programs in Harlem and East Harlem that they don’t locate in other whiter and wealthier communities.

When asked for a statement, the Mayor’s office gave a non statement, and failed to answer why Harlem and East Harlem have more than their fair share of substance abuse programs.

To see the full video:

25th Precinct Community Council Meeting Next Week

The next 25th Precinct Community Council meeting is scheduled for:

Wednesday, November 18th at 6:00PM

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86235160120?pwd=dXNTVnNkbTJ1RGk5NktnSnNlTkpHQT09

Meeting ID: 862 3516 0120
Passcode: 252020

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+19292056099,,86235160120#,,,,,,0#,,252020# US (New York)
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        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)