125th Street Redesign

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.

To see an interactive version of the plan:

https://platform.remix.com/streets/plan/0748e39f/scenario/49358c0d?latlng=40.80813,-73.94615,17.77,p0,b29.12

To see the comments made by Harlem residents on the plan/idea, see:

https://platform.remix.com/streets/plan/7fadc9d4/scenario/f0532c2c?latlng=40.80543,-73.93876,15.803,p0,b28.6&public=true

Meanwhile, Kristin Richardson Jordan is quoted by Patch.com as saying:

she supported measures to reduce congestion on 125th Street, pointing to her campaign materials calling for “a solution that helps move people, busses, taxis, and bicycles faster and safer.”

Up in the Clouds

It’s true that Harlem doesn’t have any supertalls gracing the top of Central Park, but we do have a new tallest residence – the old Victoria Theater building.

6 Square Feet are reporting that a lottery has begun for 102 mixed-income units that start from $755/month. at this building:

At 27 stories and 340 feet high, the new Victoria Towers redevelopment at 230 West 126th Street in central Harlem–the site of the former Victoria Theater–has the distinction of being the neighborhood’s tallest building. Leasing opened in July, and now 102 of its units are available for those earning 50, 60 or 130 percent of the area median income and range from studios at $755 /month to $3043/month two-bedrooms (market-rate studios start at $2,238/month). Designed by Aufgang Architects, the mixed-use building complex is also home to a Renaissance Marriott hotel and a cultural arts center.

Prices for the affordable apartments based on AMI levels range from:

  • $775/month studios to $971/month two-bedrooms for 50% AMI
  • $1,089/month studios to $1,398/month two-bedrooms for 60% AMI
  • $2,351/month studios to $3,043/month two-bedrooms for 130% AMI

All apartments have hardwood floors, open living areas and kitchens, plenty of closets, and central heating and air conditioning. Amenities for residents include a fitness center, laundry room, lounge with game area, on-site parking, and rooftop access.

The building has a separate entrance for residents. The entrance to the hotel and cultural center is located in a sleek glass tower that rises behind the historic theater’s restored facade. The hotel, the first to be built in Harlem in over 85 years, offers hotel guests a club lounge, meeting rooms, a fitness center, and restaurants. The cultural arts center will feature programming from the Apollo Theater and other local arts organizations.

Two percent of the building’s units are reserved for vision and hearing-impaired residents; five percent of units are reserved for mobility-impaired residents. Qualifying New Yorkers can apply for the affordable units until January 10, 2022.

Education Feeds The Mind – The Child Grows

High School Graduates

How Calculated: 

Estimated number of people 25 years and over who have completed High School (Includes Equivalency), divided by the total number of people 25 years and over; expressed as percent.

Source: American Community Survey

Koch and Co

Ephemeral New York has a great article on the stately building, and former department store on 125th street between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvds, Koch and Co.:

HNBA November Meeting, Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7:00 PM

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9th. at 7:00 PM HNBA will welcome Michael Lythcott attend to explain the new National Black Theater building project that will replace the former building on 5th Avenue between 125/126.

This large new cultural center and residence will be a major landmark in our community. Learn more about the project, the theater, the residences, and much, much more.

(Note that Michael had been unable to attend an earlier HNBA meeting due to a scheduling conflict but is now excited about presenting the project to us on November 9th)

In addition to the National Black Theater, we will also have representatives from the NYC Department of Health’s Rat team who will talk about how we can all best deal with the rats who’ve also been profoundly impacted by changes stemming from our behavior during COVID, as well as the recent storms/flooding.

Lastly, we’ll have representatives from  Chelton Loft, which is located on East 126th Street between Park and Lex. They serve people with mental illness and run a strong program that includes wellness classes, job placement and cooking vegetables from our farmers market.

It’s a great lineup, and we hope to see you there. If you’d like to attend, make sure to subscribe to this newsletter:

And we’ll email you the Zoom link.

Harlem 125

Uptown Grand Central, Again!

If you’ve been on East 125th Street recently, you’ve probably noticed that Uptown Grand Central has again restarted their amazing mural project on the otherwise, monotonous green construction hoarding.

The UGC project has grown from 50 artists in 2019 who enlivened the area around the Metro-North station at 125/Park. This year, is inviting up to 100 artists to paint new work over the old ones.

The goal, like last time, is to create art that will “support and uplift the community,” according to Carey King, director of Uptown Grand Central, which organizes the project.

Artist applications are open and being selected on a rolling basis through June, when organizers hope to have them all painted. Each artist chosen will receive a $500 honorarium, and priority is being given to artists with connections to Harlem, Upper Manhattan and the Bronx — as was the case last time.

“They were all people from the community that knew East 125th Street and knew how important it was to bring joy here,” King said of the 2019 artists. “It was just a beautiful thing.”

The project’s funders include City Councilmembers Diana Ayala and Bill Perkins, the city’s Department of Small Business Services and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

In the coming weeks, Uptown Grand Central will put out another, separate artist call: this time, to paint dozens of metal shop gates between Fifth and Lexington avenues, building off a 2017 project.

To learn more about the call for artist submissions, click here, or read more about the Grandscale Mural Project at Uptown Grand Central’s website. To see the works in progress, stop by East 125th Street — and tag Instagram photos with the hashtag #grandscalemuralproject.

Thanks to Patch.com ‘s Nick Garber for the reporting, above.

Miss Harlem Shake 2021

Toe Whoppin’ Tina was crowned Miss Harlem Shake 2021.

Toe Whoppin’ Tina received the official Golden Cup award, free burgers for a year, a $1,000 gift, and a $500 donation to her favorite charity – the 116th Street Food Pantry in Harlem.

Toe Whoppin’ Tina is 32 and works as a children’s mascot entertainer, a promoter and a restaurant manager. Tina says she enjoys dancing, singing and parties. In her words, “I love people with a good sense of humor. I’m funny.”  

Tina’s favorite Harlem Shake meal is the Hot Mess burger and she believes she personifies a chocolate shake. When asked why she loves Harlem, Tina responded with a question, “Who doesn’t love Harlem?”

Protest Yesterday Arrived at Park/125

A long line of police cars announced the conclusion of a protest that started at 26th Street last night and marched up to East Harlem chanting “Abolish the Police”.

A protester (below) observes a smoking device, set off under the tracks.

The exhausted remnants of the protest:

Vaccination Bus at Marcus Garvey Park

Get on the bus! Head to Marcus Garvey Park between noon and 8pm, today and tomorrow, to get a free COVID-19 vaccine.

To learn more go to https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/vaccines/covid-19-vaccines.page#walk-up-sites

Mount Sinai and Methadone in Our Community

With new data from a FOIL request to OASAS, we are able to contextualize the size/impact that Mount Sinai has on our community with their two major methadone hubs – West 124th Street, and East 125th Street (The Lee Building at Park Avenue).

Looking at the screenshot below, you can see how large Mount Sinai’s presence is in Harlem and East Harlem.

To see the entire city and the uneven distribution of Opioid Treatment Programs, see the map below:

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/RNUZ2/1/

Celebration of Langston Hughes

   Join AGM Theater Company for an evening of laughter, joy and lively music; as we celebrate the phenomenal work of Langston Hughes.

*Click the link below to register for the presentation*

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XESwCYdkR4CXYc8AGBf7PQ

Candidate Forums on Monday, March 1

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_natkAKbPQRWnArGJkXDQww

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

James E. Hinton – Recording Black Activism

The New Yorker has an amazing video of work by the photographer James E. Hinton who made his name memorializing some of the most prominent figures of the civil-rights era. Hinton photographed not only Black leaders of the time (athletes, artists, politicians, thinkers, musicians – including Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, Mahalia Jackson, and Miles Davis), but also left a huge body of work at Emory University that celebrates ordinary Black life in mid-century America.

Emory University notes that: James E. Hinton (1936-2006) was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He attended college at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) in the 1950s and served in the United States Army from 1960-1962. He studied photography with Roy De Carava at the Kamoinge Photography Workshop for African Americans in 1963. Hinton worked as a freelance photographer throughout the 1960s, capturing images of the Civil Rights Movement in cities such as Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; and Harlem, New York, and photographing unknown activists and foot soldiers in the movement as well as leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Stokely Carmichael; H. Rap Brown; and Huey Newton. He also photographed artists and athletes including singer Mahalia Jackson and boxer Muhammed Ali. In the 1970s, Hinton began working in film and television as a cinematographer and director. He was the first African American to join a cameraman’s union, Local 600 in New York City, and won an Emmy for his direction of WNEW’s program “Black News.”

The New Yorker has highlighted excerpts from two of Hinton’s films: “The New-Ark” and “May Be the Last Time,” that were digitized by the Harvard Film Archive, which holds a collection of Hinton’s work.

To watch this powerful record see:

https://www.newyorker.com/video/watch/an-unseen-body-of-work-shows-a-different-side-of-black-power

Patch Report on Vacant Storefronts

Nick Garber from Patch.com has a great, albeit depressing map of vacant storefronts along the 125th Street business corridor

Nick Garber notes:

All told, 42 stores sat empty along that stretch — not counting active construction sites or businesses that shut down during the pandemic but have pledged to reopen at a later date. That’s a rate of nearly one vacancy per block.

To see and read more:

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/harlems-empty-storefronts-42-vacancies-along-125th-street

HNBA November Meeting: Tuesday, Nov. 10th at 7pm

The week after election day HNBA will hold its November meeting on Tuesday, November 10th at 7 PM.

We are looking forward to a fantastic lineup of guests, the first of which will be representatives from Chase bank who will talk about helping Harlem residents achieve home ownership, including:

 Applying for a mortgage
 Available Grants to help with the down payment
 2-4 unit properties – using rental income to qualify
 Multiple borrowers on one application
 Is now the time to refi? Pluses and minuses
 Working with a realtor
 Single-family
 Multi-family with rental income
 Market Condo
 Deed restricted condo
 Market co-op
 HDFC co-op

We will then meet Tali Farhadian Weinstein who is running for Manhattan DA. https://www.taliforda.com/ Tali and her staff recently join in on a walking tour of 125th Street from Lenox to Lexington to see first hand some of the major struggles we have with quality of life and small business development.

Tali Farhadian Weinstein is a prosecutor, a professor, and a proven criminal justice reformer.  She is also an immigrant, a daughter, a wife, and the mother of three girls. 

Lastly, Jana La Sorte from the NYC Parks Department will join us. Jana is the new administrator for the four Historic Harlem Parks — Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Morningside and St. Nicholas — that advocates for and supports the unique history and character of each park and their future development to better serve the greater Harlem community.

If you are a member of HNBA (Join Here) and would like to join in this exciting conversation on the 10th, email Shawn for the zoom link.

DWB (Driving While Black)

Join the New York & Virtual Premiere of dwb (driving while black) this evening until October 29th.

dwb (driving while black) isa new chamber opera about racism, erasure, and the fear and love that black parents experience when they send their kids out into a world that too often sees them not as a child, but as a threat. This powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African American parent whose beautiful brown boy approaches driving age. What should be a celebration of independence and maturity turns out to be fraught with the anxiety of “driving while black.”

REGISTER HERE (Registration required)

One of the most singularly devastating theatrical moments of the last year.” –The Pitch


“A composer of vivid imagination and skill” 
—Fanfare

“Singers are storytellers,” says soprano/librettist Roberta Gumbel (“silver voiced…” – The New York Times), “but rarely do we get the opportunity to help create the stories we are telling.” Collaborating with composer Susan Kander and the cutting-edge duo New Morse Code (“Clarity of artistic vision and near-perfect synchronicity.” icareifyoulisten.com), this brief, powerful music-drama documents the all-too-familiar story of an African-American parent whose “beautiful brown boy” approaches driving age as, what should be a celebration of independence and maturity is fraught with the anxiety of driving while black. 

Roberta Gumbel, librettist/soprano
Susan Kander, composer
Chip Miller, director
New Morse Code– Hannah Collins (cello) and Michael Compitello (percussion)

Uptown Grand Central’s Clean Team

It’s the one-year anniversary of UGC’s partnership with Positive Workforce to create our East 125th Clean Team.


Spot a yellow trashbag along East 125? These are the guys who cleaned it up for you.

And after being out there seven days a week, Uptown Grand Central’s 125th Street Clean Team filled 12,000 bags in the past year. 💛