Skyrise for Harlem

It looks like a collection of nuclear cooling towers, suddenly plopped into Harlem, but June Jordan’s plan for a redevelopment of Harlem in the early 1960s was for a collection of conical high rises:

Esquire Magazine had the (above layout) which was recently featured in an article in The New Yorker.

The conical towers would have concentrated a huge number of residents in towers that would have dwarfed even the larger Harlem and East Harlem projects that you can see in the image (above).

June Jordan (portrait)

June Jordan (the architect pictured above), sought to throw:

herself into what she called “a collaborative architectural redesign of Harlem,” in which she joined forces with the architect R. Buckminster Fuller, champion of the geodesic dome. Jordan and Fuller called their collaboration “Skyrise for Harlem”: a plan for public housing that was attuned to the well-being of two hundred and fifty thousand of the neighborhood’s residents, most of them Black. The project may have seemed a left turn for Jordan, who came to prominence through her essays and poetry. But she had always conceived of her work as falling under the umbrella of environmental design—“that is,” she explained, “in general, an effort to contribute to the positive changing of the world.”

While C. L. Davis II, from Buffalo, NY questions whether or not June Jordan can be classified as an architect in Race and Architecture: https://raceandarchitecture.com/2013/11/26/writing-and-building-black-utopianism-representing-the-architextural-musings-of-june-jordans-his-own-where-1971/, her bold proposal clearly situated her work in the Le Corbusier > Robert Moses > Buckminster Fuller school of slum clearance > towers in the park, school:

Note the scale of the brownstones and tenaments below one of the towers, sectionally represented.

Jordan believed that the grid pattern was responsible for high crime rates, and that The Commissioners’ Plan was “pathological crucification.” [Fish, C. (2007). Place, Emotion, and Environmental Justice in Harlem: June Jordan and Buckminster Fuller’s 1965 “Architextual” Collaboration. Discourse].

Fuller and Jordan’s “Skyrise” never made it off the pages of Esquire. The ARCH plan for the East Harlem Triangle was never adopted, though Goldstein argues that it did lead the way for residents to build “a social service center and hundreds of affordable housing units in the following years.” Without any radical reconstruction, most of Harlem foundered, the area’s real estate prices plummeting in the 1970s as in so many other economically disadvantaged neighborhoods across the five boroughs. In the 1980s, gentrification tentatively arrived in Harlem, mostly by way of middle-class black residents who, as Monique M. Taylor writes in “Can You Go Home Again? Black Gentrification and the Dilemma of Difference,” were looking for “real estate bargains” while also being “strongly motivated by a desire to participate in the rituals that define daily life in this (in)famous and historically black community.

https://ny.curbed.com/2018/1/10/16868494/harlem-history-buckminster-fuller-development-rezoning

For more, see:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/when-june-jordan-and-buckminster-fuller-tried-to-redesign-harlem

https://ny.curbed.com/2018/1/10/16868494/harlem-history-buckminster-fuller-development-rezoning

Behind The Collier Brother’s Home

You may recognize this vacant lot, church, and new rental building on W. 127, just behind the Collier Brother’s Park:

The church ‘grew’. The two brownstones to the right were knocked down and the decades-old vacant lot is where the new rental is located. The Victorian framed home to the left in the photo below is where the vacant space next to the church is now:

to see more:

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/d2ab0ad0-c546-012f-6df9-58d385a7bc34#/?uuid=510d47dd-19aa-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Mount Morris Park

Here are 3 great photos of Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park) from Columbia University’s collection of images.

Below is a postcard from 1905 on the east side of the park, looking south towards where the basketball courts are today:

Mount Morris Park was renamed in honor of Marcus Garvey in 1973, the park was built largely as a green space for Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall cronies, many of whom lived uptown by the 1860s.

Below is a postcard sent in 1916 after an ocean voyage:

The land for the park had been purchased by the city in 1839, but landscaping was long delayed. Its design was eventually supervised by Ignaz A. Pilat, who would later serve as an able associate of Frederick Law Olmsted during the creation of Central Park.

This final image is of the bandstand, and was sent in 1907:

To see the collection:

https://dlc.library.columbia.edu/durst/cul:jh9w0vt4h9

High Times and Hot Times in Homo Harlem, 1920-1990

Historian Michael Henry Adams leads a virtual tour of Lesbian and Gay life in the historic African American cultural capital, where we’ll meet personalities living and lost and see landmarks long gone and still standing that illuminate the a fabled part of New York. Past and Present LGBTQ+ Harlemites have played a leading role in defining Harlem’s artistic significance.

To join the virtual tour: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/high-times-and-hot-times-in-homo-harlem-1920-1990-tickets-114454941812?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch

For a short 11 minute look at one of Harlem’s great gay performers – Gladys Bentley – see:

Steamship Fares

To travel (before the age of rail and subways) to lower Manhattan (and Astoria), the Sylvian Steamship company ran for 8 cents (10 cents if purchased on board):

Details of the fare:

And, the complete card here:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1800s-Timetable-Card-NYC-East-River-Sylvan-steamship-steamers-Harlem-Peck-Slip-/333161431240

Calling All 17 Year-Olds

The Board of Elections in the City of New York is preparing for the General Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, and is now accepting applications for the 17 Year Old Student Poll Worker Program. The program promotes civic awareness and educates high school students about the election process by allowing them to serve as poll workers on Election Day. Submit a completed application by September 18, 2020. Space is limited, so apply early! Fill out your application now!.

400 Miles to Freedom

If you’ve ever been curious about internal race relations within the Jewish community (in Israel and here in in the US), 400 Miles to Freedom is a great introduction. I’m including it here because of some wonderful shots of our neighborhood in the film:

400 Miles to Freedom (2012)

In 1984, the Beta Israel, a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains, fled a dictatorship and began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then a 10-year-old boy, was among them. 400 MILES TO FREEDOM follows his story as he breaks the 20 year silence around the brutal kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan during his community’s exodus out of Africa, and in so doing explores issues of immigration and racial diversity in Judaism.

National Urban League Plans to Use $188M For 125th Street Headquarters in Harlem

urban empowerment center

The National Urban League is moving along with planning for a 17-story project that will include affordable rental housing, a civil rights museum, office space for community groups, retail space, and their headquarters/conference.

121 West 125th Street in Harlem. Courtesy of BRP Companies

The development, known as the Urban League Empowerment Center, will replace a low-slung retail building at 121 West 125th Street and a four-story parking garage that fronts the north side of the lot on West 126th Street. It will also rise next to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building

For more see: https://commercialobserver.com/2020/08/national-urban-league-nails-down-188m-for-planned-125th-street-hq-in-harlem/

Build The Block Meeting

Ginjan Café 85 East 125 St Manhattan, 10035

Thursday, August 13th, 2020 Doors open at 4:30 PM

Meeting starts at 5:00 PM

Our Neighborhood Coordination Officers would like to invite you to a Build The Block meeting at Ginjan Cafe. This will be an opportunity to discuss any public safety or quality of life issues you would like our precinct to focus on. Come and meet your neighbors, share any concerns you might have, and help our precinct see community need through your eyes and experience.

For accommodations regarding any disability, please contact Lieutenant Mario Deras
At (212) 860-6515 or [email protected]
at least 72 hours (three days) prior to the event.

MTA to Begin Overnight Bus Service, Again…

Beginning Wednesday, August 5, MTA New York City Transit will provide new overnight bus service for customers between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and between Manhattan and the Bronx.
The new M99 will operate run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between East New York in Brooklyn and the West 42nd Street pier in Manhattan. The new Bx99 will run every 20 minutes from approximately 1AM and 6AM, between Woodlawn in the Bronx and the West Village serving the east and west sides of Manhattan, crossing Midtown along 57th Street. 
Please visit mta.info/overnight for more information and use the MyMTA app or call 511 to plan your trip.