Lenox and 135th Street

This photo of a Harlem street scene is labeled Lenox and 135th Street, and is dated March 23, 1939:

Where exactly was the photo taken?

First of all, the metal structure on the left (note the rivets holding it together, showing that it’s a metal structure):

is clearly a subway entrance:

that has a newsstand and shoeshine chairs glommed onto it, and an adjacent business called “Subway Shoe Repairing & Hat Renovating Shop”:

Note the retracted awnings that would be extended during sunny, hot summers (no airconditioning) on the buildings:

indicating (as much as the bundled up pedestrians do) that this is a chilly day:

But, where exactly was the photo taken? The shadows suggest that this is likely a view of the north side of a street. Looking at Google Street view, it’s clear that no 1939-era buildings exist on any of the 4 corners.

However, all of the subway entrances are oriented with Lenox Avenue and are located on Lenox Avenue and not on West 135th Street. As a result, the photo must be showing either the north-east corner (where the hospital is now), or the south-west corner, where 485 Lenox now stands:

In the end, the shadows prove that the photo is showing the southwest corner of 135th Street and Lenox Avenue – where 485 Lenox now stands. The long shadows indicate that it’s early morning and the men getting their shoes shined are getting ready for the day, and the relatively few window awnings suggest that few people in apartments that faced east thought it worth investing in this sun-blocking feature when the intense heat mostly beat down on south and west facing windows.

Renaming Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses

Assemblymember Gibbs is convening an effort to rename Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson Houses – both are currently named after unabashedly racist men (and Thomas Jefferson, of course, bought/’kept’ enslaved people).

Florence Mills

At our January HNBA meeting, we heard from Savona Bailey-McClain about her effort to name the plaza at St. Nicholas Ave and 135th street after Florence Mills. Savona is looking for letters of support from you.

Below are the email addresses for letters of support as well as a draft letter that can be modified. Attached are documents that have links where you can hear music or information on the Harlem theaters that Florence performed in. The more letters we can send might convince the Board that Harlem residents care.
Thank you.

The Honorable Barry J. Weinberg,
Chair, Manhattan Community Board 9,
16 Old Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Honorable Barry J. Weinberg:
[email protected]
The Honorable William Castro
Manhattan Borough Commissioner
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
24 West 61st
New York, NY 10023
Honorable William Castro:
[email protected]

The Honorable Jonathan Thomas
Chair, Parks and Landmarks Committee
Manhattan Community Board 9
16 Old Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Honorable Jonathan Thomas:
[email protected]


As a member of the jazz community, I am writing in support of honoring the American singer and dancer Florence Mills by the creation of the Florence Mills Plaza in St.Nicholas Park in the vicinity of 135th Street.

Florence Mills was a star performer during the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance. She was the lead in Shuffle Along, the musical composed by Eubie Blake with lyrics by Noble Sissle and book by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles. According to the Harlem chronicler James Weldon Johnson, Shuffle Along marked a breakthrough for the African-American musical performer. The show opened in 1921 and ran for 504 performances, and was credited with inspiring the Harlem Renaissance. of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Ms. Mills danced in Plantation Revue on Broadway and then opened in London in 1923 in the show Dover Street to Dixie. In 1924 she headlined at the Palace Theater in London, the most prestigious booking in vaudeville and in 1926 opened in Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds, which ran for more than 300 performances in London.Upon her early death in 1927, more than 10,000 people visited the funeral home to pay their respects. Duke Ellington memorialized her in his composition “Black Beauty.”

Naming the Plaza in honor of Florence Mills will pay tribute to her pioneering achievements. It will insure that knowledge of this great performer and her role in the Harlem Renaissance will be highlighted and will be an inspiration to future generations.

Vigil for Yao Pan Ma

For video of the vigil for Yao Pan Ma, please see:

We were saddened to see that city council members from across the city were able to show up, and yet our city council members from East Harlem and from Central Harlem failed to appear. Please take the time to ask them why.

Photos from the Vigil