Mapping Historical New York allows you to look at the geographic distribution of trades in 1850, 1880, and 1910. Given how sparsely Harlem was settled in 1850, it’s really only the 1880 data and beyond that shows clear patterns.
This first map is of Craftsmen in 1880. Note their presence in the Upper East Side and in East Harlem along the river where warehouses, industry, and assorted forms of commerce would have required many skilled laborers.
Doctors and surgeons in 1880, however, are limited to a small part of Harlem, mostly in the brownstone blocks above 125th Street in Central Harlem:
The distribution of Domestic Servants is also very telling in its compactness:
Again, mostly above 125th Street, in Central Harlem.
The Harlem Connection is a weekly radio show where a trio of music lovers joins forces with the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to provide you the artists and the sounds that helped establish Harlem as a cultural Mecca.
This fascinating map of the density of women in 1880, shows how Central Harlem housed many more women than East Harlem (the darker the color, the more women per block – data coming from the 1880 census).
The answer is partly visible in terms of the buildings built in 1880 above 125th Street in Central Harlem – single-family, middle (or upper-middle) class brownstones.
This type of housing was likely to employ a number of women to cook, clean, and even nurse or educate the children. The blocks closer to the river, were more industrial and commercial areas, with tenements and other inexpensive housing for (male) workers.
In the 1880 census snippet shown above for the building I live in, you can see that Eliza Alexander and her 12-year-old white, female daughter, Bertha, lived as servant/s in the household, for example.
Both Eliza and Bertha are listed as being from Maryland, and columns 4 and 5 are curiously overwritten. I’m not sure if the line for Eliza, for example, had a “B” in columns 4 and 5, indicating “Black”?
Connector Ramp Wins Award
The team behind a new ramp on the Harlem River Drive has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies New York (ACEC NY) with a Diamond Award as part of the 2021 New York Engineering Excellence Awards.
Parsons Corporation announced today that the company’s work on New York City’s RFK Bridge – the Harlem River Drive North Connector Ramp – was honored. The project was carried out on behalf of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, a division of the MTA, to provide a connection between the RFK Bridge to Harlem River Drive’s northbound lanes.
The new ramp has decreased congestion, reduced noise pollution, eliminated 2,500 tons of CO2-equivalent per year, and improved the quality of life in neighboring East Harlem, while providing a shorter and safer route for travelers.
The completed ramp opened to traffic in November 2020.
In 1880, Central Harlem was just starting to be filled in with residences and people. West Harlem, and the Upper West Side, for that matter, was nothing but farmland.
In the map (above) of populated blocks, note how much of Manhattan’s development was east-side based. The East River, not the Hudson, was the waterway of commerce, industry, and communication. Also, the early development of the New York Harlem railway up 4th Avenue (AKA, Park Avenue) meant that commuters on the East Side could get up, down, and out of New York rapidly.
In 1880, the west side of Manhattan (above Columbus Circle) was nothing but farmland and vacant lots, awaiting development. And, as we know, with the promise of a subway that would go up the west side then hook around the top of Central Park, and go uptown along Lenox or 8th Avenue (Frederick Douglass Blvd.) , speculators overbuilt in Central Harlem and precipitated the over-built housing crisis that eventually led real estate entrepreneurs like Philip Payton to leverage the housing glut into providing homes for Black New Yorkers.
Disney > Harlem = Jazz
The National Jazz Museum on 129th Street, just east of Lenox Ave is hosting a Disney “Soul” themed regional jazz exhibit “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure”
The exhibit was first introduced at The American Adventure inside EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and has previously been hosted in New Orleans and Kansas City.“Like the film that inspired this exhibit, ‘The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure’ is a tribute to the human experience,” said Carmen Smith, Senior Vice President, Creative Development – Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies. “It was here in Harlem that Jazz not only evolved as an international sensation, but a vehicle for social change. The genre’s enduring influence is a palpable example of the barriers that can be broken when ambition and artistry meet passion and purpose. We’re proud to partner with the National Jazz Museum to preserve and celebrate that special kind of magic.”
The exhibit, the opening of which coincides with the beginning of Black History Month, acts as a tribute to a musical art form originated by African Americans. The exhibit highlights many different cultures and creators who influenced this evolving genre, and visitors can join Joe Gardner, the musician from Disney and Pixar’s hit movie “Soul,” as they tour through the rich history of jazz.
During its run in Harlem, the exhibit will include a collection of jazz artifacts curated by the museum, including Duke Ellington’s white grand piano, a player piano, and a working 78rpm Victrola. The exhibit will also include maquettes of “Soul” characters Joe Gardner and Dorothea Williams as well as virtual experiences that visitors can interact with on the Play Disney Parks app.
“If Jazz was born in New Orleans, it spent a lot of time growing up in the Harlem community, and that energy is palpable, even today” says National Jazz Museum in Harlem Executive Director Tracy Hyter-Suffern. “Our commitment to exploring the Roots & Routes of Jazz emphasizes the ways Black music continues to shape society and global culture. Harlem is one of the world’s cultural destination points. Our partnership with Disney is a unique opportunity to celebrate Jazz, community and Harlem.”
“The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” will be on display until Aug. 31. The National Jazz Museum is located at 58 West 129th Street and is open Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. through 5 p.m., and masks are required. Proof of vaccination is required for visitors over 12 years old. For more information or to reserve and your entry in advance, visit www.jmih.org. To learn more about the exhibit, visit www.disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog.
The Office of the Public Advocate’s Worst Landlord Watchlist is an information-sharing tool that enables tenants, public officials, advocates, and other concerned individuals to identify which residential property owners consistently flout City laws intended to protect the rights and safety of tenants.
The vast majority of this list of infamy are in Central Harlem. Not a single East Harlem building/landlord made the list: