In The Street

If you haven’t watched this short film (black and white, shot on 16mm film stock in 1948) you should, just to get a sense of East Harlem in the immediate post-war era.

Puerto Ricans and Italians make up the majority of the people (often children) filmed via small, hidden 16 mm film cameras. This unique record of East Harlem street life shows the joy and vibrancy found in one of Manhattan’s poorest neighborhoods.

Redistricting Changes to Harlem

The boundary between KRJ and Diana Ayala as it currently exists:

The proposed boundary for the next election cycle:

And the boundaries superimposed on the same map (note the color purple is the new proposed boundary whereas the blue line is the current boundary):

Here is the interactive map to test out. Move the slider at the top, left and right:,40.811#%26map=14.23/40.80415/-73.94016

Dan, who presented on Redistricting at one of our spring HNBA meetings, writes:


I hope everyone is having a great week so far! As you all have likely seen, the NYC Districting Commission released it’s first draft maps of the proposed Council district lines on Friday. The folks at CUNY have uploaded these draft maps to their website Redistricting and You, to make it easy to compare the new proposed lines with the current districts.

The new maps made changes to districts all over the city. Some of the most impactful decisions the commission made were:

  1. Staten Island – Staten Islanders lobbied hard to keep three full council districts on the island, without having any district cross-over to Brooklyn or Manhattan. The commission abided their requests. Staten Island was under-populated, so to accommodate this request the commission lowered the population maximum for every other council district in the city. This was done to ensure that every district met the legal criteria requiring no more than a five percent population deviation between the smallest and largest districts. The end results were that the three districts in Staten Island are substantially smaller than nearly every other district, and that the commission had much less flexibility with population sizes for the rest of the districts.
  2. South Brooklyn – The commission united the Asian-American communities in Bensonhurst and Sunset Park, to create an Asian majority district. To do this, the map makers redrew several districts in southern Brooklyn, including changing CD 38 to include Bay Ridge, and moving Red Hook into CD 39.
  3. Western Queens and UES – The draft plan creates a new crossover district uniting CD 26 with Roosevelt Island and parts of the Upper East Side.
  4. Keeping neighborhoods intact – The commission united several neighborhoods that had previously been split between multiple council districts – for example Van Nest in the Bronx. Other neighborhoods currently intact in one council district got split, such as Hell’s Kitchen.

Citizens Union will conduct a closer analysis of the proposed map in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on the maps. Please feel free to email [email protected] to share any thoughts or comments.

New Yorkers will have 30 days to look through these draft maps before the Commission takes comments. The next round of borough-specific public hearings will be on August 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 22nd from 4pm-7pm. This round of hearings will be critical in determining the ultimate council lines. If you are unhappy with the maps, we encourage you to testify; similarly if you like the new lines in your district, that is also very important to tell the commission.

To submit written testimony to the Districting Commission, please contact: [email protected]

If you’d like to read more, here is some recent press about the new maps, with more expected over the coming week:

  1. New NYC Council district maps create Asian-majority district, but draw fire from sitting members (Gothamist) 
  2. Preliminary City Council district map keeps Staten Island communities whole (silive) 
  3. Districting Commission releases draft of New York City Council maps (City and State) 
  4. Commission releases draft Council maps (Queens Chronicle)
  5. “I Don’t Like the Map!” — Hell’s Kitchen Reacts to NY City Council Proposal to Split Neighborhood into THREE (
  6. Upper East Side Sliced Up In Newly Redrawn Council District Maps | Upper East Side, NY Patch
  7. Preliminary Maps For City Council Districts Released, Crown Heights Remains Divided | – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News

A survey from City College

Dear Neighbor,
What would a healthy Harlem look like? What would it take to get there? Can you spare a few minutes to think about that question and share your opinions with us?
We would like to learn about the quality of life in Harlem. We will use the results from this survey to develop a plan of action to work together with residents and other community members to address the major health and community issues in Harlem. Our ultimate aim is to partner with the community to create a better and healthier Harlem for the sake of all who live and work here and our children. The survey is anonymous and voluntary and should take only no more than three to five minutes to complete. 
Link to Survey –
Thank you!
Your neighbors at The City College of New York and Billy Council.

Council Member Kristin Jordan Says “No” to 458 Affordable Apartments

Patch’s Nick Garber is reporting that Central Harlem’s council member Kristin Jordan has stopped 458 new affordable rental units from being built on 145th Street. The article indicates that a storage unit facility may be built on the site instead:

Bike Repair & BBQ

Saturday, June 4th / 11AM – 3PM

Join us for a FREE outdoor Bike Repair and Maintenance led by Bronx Messenger and Uptown & Boogie Bicycle Advocacy.

Bring your own bike [BYOB] – ask local bike mechanics and enthusiasts from Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, questions about commuting in the city, discuss biking with kids, bike touring, biking while menstruating and more.

Participants are welcome to work on their bicycle during the event.

Volunteer: Are you a bike mechanic or enthusiast and want to volunteer? Email [email protected]

Event Information:

Kristin Jordan

Brian Benjamin Arrested and Resigned, Yesterday

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has surrendered to authorities to face campaign finance fraud-related charges in connection with a past campaign and has since resigned.

Benjamin is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court.

His arrest comes after reports that Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI were investigating whether Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme. Subpoenas were issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas said at the time.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin turned himself in to federal authorities in Lower Manhattan as they unsealed his indictment. He faces five bribery charges and related allegations tied to a campaign contribution scheme first exposed by The City.

It was last January when The City first reported on suspicious campaign donations to Benjamin’s campaign for city comptroller, including a contribution from a 2-year-old boy. The funds were potentially eligible to be publicly matched $8 for every dollar contributed, up to $100 for each named donor.

His camp promised to return the cash. By late February, they had given back more than $13,000 in contributions tied to Gerald Migdol, a Harlem real estate entrepreneur, the Campaign Finance Board said at the time.

In August, despite THE CITY’s revelations, newly elevated Gov. Kathy Hochul chose then-state senator Benjamin as her lieutenant. Then, just after Hochul’s win in the November election, federal prosecutors indicted Migdol in an illegal campaign funding scheme.

We now know Benjamin had been subpoenaed by local and federal law enforcement authorities prior to his selection by Hochul, which he failed to disclose to Hochul or in a state form.

The indictment alleges that Benjamin met repeatedly with Migdol, identified as “CC-1,” to collect money orders Migdol had orchestrated. In exchange, they allege, he arranged a $50,000 grant to a nonprofit Migdol controls.

Councilmember Kristin Jordan Opposes a Multi-Racial Harlem

In two media reports last week, Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan voiced opposition to a new development on 145th Street (including a new headquarters for The National Action Network and a civil rights museum) in order to reduce the number of potential non-Black residents in her district.

New York 1 reports:

If the City Council doesn’t approve the plan, the developer could still go ahead with a much smaller project of all market-rate units.

Councilwoman Kristin Richardson-Jordan would ultimately prefer that option, since she believes it would bring a smaller number of newcomers to the neighborhood.

“That makes a difference, especially in a community like Harlem where we are one of the only places with a Black plurality and a Black political voting block,” Richardson-Jordan said. “So you have a dilution of that voting block, you also have an influx of people who have much higher incomes, and you have the continuing displacement of those who are around.”

City and State also quotes the councilmember as saying:

“If we’re talking about Black rights and liberation, that doesn’t come in the form of a museum…”

For the full City and State article, see:

Racial Covenants

In Kevin McGruder’s book: Philip Payton – The Father of Black Harlem, McGruder notes that on February 13th, 1907, West 137th Street was the site of Harlem’s first (one of the first nationally) racially restrictive racial covenants, drawn up in response to Black residents moving into Harlem.

23 property owners on West 137th Street between Lenox and 7th Avenues signed this racial covenant, appropriating language previously used to “restrict the presence of Jews in residential areas” in an attempt to legally stop integration and a multicultural Harlem:

That neither of the parties hereto, nor his heir and their heirs legal representatives successors and assigns shall or will at any time hereafter up to and including the 1st day of January, 1917 permit or cause to be permitted, or suffer or cause to be suffered, either directly or indirectly, the said premises to be used or occupied in whole or in part by any negro mulatto, quadroon or octoroon of either sex whatsoever, or any person popularly known and described as a negro, mullato [sic], quadroon or octoroon of either sex as a tenant, subtenant, guest boarder or in any other way, manner or capacity whatsoever, excepting only that any one family occupying an entire house or an entire flat or an entire apartment, may employ one negress or one female mulatto, or one female quadroon or one female octoroon as a household servant, performing only the duties ordinarily performed by a household servant—it being understood and agreed that this covenant or restriction shall not be enforced personally for damages or by an action in equity or at common law against either of the parties hereto or his, her or their heirs legal representatives, successor or assigns, unless he, she or they be the owner or owners of the said premises at the time of the violation, attempted violation or threatened violation of this covenant or restriction, but this covenant or restriction may be proceeded on for an injunction and for damages against the party or parties, or person or persons who for the time being own, occupy or are in possession of the said premises, and violating or attempting or threatening to violate this covenant or restriction.


Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership

Join Princeton University Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s presentation on the ways that housing policies inspired and shaped by private sector organizations undermined the federal government’s ability to enforce fair housing rules and regulations long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act.

Register here:

Thursday, March 10, 5:30 PM