Poop and Harlem’s Hidden COVID Numbers

In September 2020, New York began to sample and test wastewater at New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) wastewater plants for COVID-19.

If you recall an earlier post on wastewater and New York – https://hnba.nyc/where-does-my-sewage-go/ – you may remember that virtually all of Harlem’s wastewater (basically anything that goes down your drain or toilet) ends up at Wards’ Island’s DEP complex. New York Open Data has made the wastewater sampling data available, so I decided to plot COVID-19 as detected in our (Harlem’s) poop.

September 2020 December 2020 December 2021 April 2022

As you likely know, wastewater sampling can only give a community average of sorts, but what it does (that swab sampling of individual New Yorkers can’t do) is integrates information on the people who never or rarely test.

The chart above is amazing and terrifying at the same time. The left-hand side is September 2020, and the right hand side is April 2022.

That crazy spike is from 12/27/2021 – after Thanksgiving 2021, around Christmas – when Omicron converged in the US. Holiday travel, family gatherings, shopping, and the shift to socializing indoors, all combined with a more contagious COVID variant.

Juneteenth Celebration on East 111st Street

(between Lex/3rd)

Harlem FBI

eBay has an FBI Harlem division pin, up for sale:

For details on this jazz and nightclub-themed pin, see this link.

Free COVID Test Kits for Home

Pick up free COVID test kits for you and your family. Details and locations here:


The site also lists free testing – New York City continues to provide free testing irrespective of whether or not you have health insurance.

Staying in Harlem

With pandemic concerns abating and rules relaxing, tourism is tentatively returning. Harlem World Magazine has partnered with Stay in order to produce a curated list (mostly Booking.com listings) of places where guests can find Harlem accommodation.

The options range from $100 at the Harlem Lodge on West 119th Street:

through the very stylish Northern Lights Mansion on West 122nd Street:

Up to a more corporate spot in Aloft:

There are, of course, scores of other booking sites and likely many, many more options out there. It will be interesting to see what the summer holds for COVID, tourism, and Harlem.

They’ll Come To Your Home

Flanking Cranes

The details you see on some Harlem buildings can often bring a smile to your face.

This pair of heads – male and female – flank the entrance to an otherwise nondescript apartment building:

But look at the panels below. On the left the crane or stork has a webbed frog in its grasp.

On the right, another crane or stork has caught a fish.

After-School Job Training and Pay for High School Students

  • Get paid up to $1000 for an after school training in construction management
  • Learn about how to bid for projects and manage projects using industry software


6 months of classroom and field training for 2-3 hours twice a week


A 3 month paid internship with a real estate firm in NYC

  • Must be in 11th or 12th grade on Jan 2022 and have the right to work in the US
  • Must be able to travel to Manhattan for afterschool classes. Must have access to zoom
  • Preference will be given to motivated students from underserved communities
  • Proficient writing and math skills are needed to successfully complete the program
  • Apply via this link: https://youthconstruct.com/prospective-students

COVID-19 Testing Sites

Be Safe This Holiday Season

Art in Our Midst

The artist Allison Saar was commissioned to enliven the 125th Street Metro-North platform in 2018 and her subtle glasswork has delighted me since.

The stained glass that encompasses the waiting rooms on the platform, harkens back to the jazz scene in Harlem.

Even the title of the piece “copacetic” – a Jazz term from the interwar period – evokes smoky bars, men with hats, and everyone dressed for show.

The Zip Code Memory Project Gathering for Covid

December 5, 2021, 4pm-5:30 pm
Peace Fountain at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
111th Street/Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

JOIN the Participants of The Zip Code Memory Project for our first public gathering to acknowledge, mourn, and pay tribute to the losses of COVID 19 in a healing community ritual. Featuring live participation by the Harlem Choir.

  • What have we lost and learned from Covid?
  • How can we heal and grow together?

We invite you to bring 5×7″ postcards responding to these questions in writing, drawing, photography or other media to the event for display. You can also email your postcards to [email protected] and become part of our online archive on ZCMP.org Candles and blank postcards will be available at the Cathedral for free. If you address your postcard to someone, we will mail it for you.

The Zip Code Memory Project seeks to find reparative ways to memorialize the devastating losses resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic while also acknowledging its radically differential effects on Upper New York City neighborhoods. Working across the zip codes of Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx, we are gathering with local community, arts and academic organizations to imagine how the losses of the pandemic can be acknowledged, mourned, and healed, and how the mutual aid, care and repair they have occasioned can be honored.

Questions or requests for further information, please contact: [email protected]


Hart Island

New York City’s Hart Island is the site of the city’s potter’s field. During 2020, over 2,000 COVID-19 victims were buried here. The City has a fantastic piece on the island and the history of burials there (coproduced with Columbia University’s School of Journalism).

2021 analysis by Columbia Journalism School’s Stabile Center and THE CITY found that over 2,300 New Yorkers were buried on Hart Island in 2020. That’s more burials than any year during the AIDS epidemic, another recent health crisis.

Stabile and THE CITY also found that New York City is on pace to bury 1 in 10 Covid-19 victims on the island.

The analysis shows who is more likely to be buried on Hart Island: Black and Latino residents, frontline workers and those with little access to health care.

Cellar Access

Older 19th century or early 20th century buildings sometimes included a pivoting and braced hook like this that allowed objects to be slowly lowered or raised into/out of the cellar. Bags of coal, furniture, and other material would be tied to a rope that would be draped over the hook you see here.

Sally’s Special Freedom Bus!

Credit: 4054340 ©Klytus Smith. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library.

The Schomburg has a great image entitled: Sign for Sally’s Special Freedom Bus, to go to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom from August 28, 1963

The sign was located in the window of Sally’s Restaurant, in Harlem, and referenced a bus leaving 58 years ago today.

Today that location is the site of the Harlem Wine Gallery, and Soraya’s House of Beauty.

Day of Service Today

Saturday, August 28,2021 from 10am-3pm.

We will be giving out free covid-19 testing, vaccinations (we have all 3) as well as mammograms!! The NY AME YP will be distributed backpacks as well. We will also have register voting as well as HIV testing and free distributing of PPE.

Please see the flyer below. All mammogram appointments must be scheduled prior to the 28th the number is on the flyer.

East River Plaza Movie Night Tonight

Tonight is the final night of Movies @ ERP Summer 2021.  NYSoM is giving out free school supplies (while they last) in the afternoon.  At night, come join us at ERP for a free screening of The Wiz. 

It’s free, but space is limited.  Remember to RSVP at East River Plaza Movie Night

Also, it looks like the weather may cooperate so we can have some fun.  Just in case . . . check out the East River Plaza Movie Night link above for weather-related updates. 

BLM+COVID-19 in 2020

The Museum of the City of New York has a new exhibit about the New York response/experience of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests. This timeline is worth watching and remembering just how fraught 2020 was (oh, and it had, perhaps, the most consequential presidential election in our lifetime…?).

To order tickets to the Museum, see:


Free Hot Breakfasts for Children

FIELDTRIP in Harlem will be serving hot breakfasts daily for children between the hours of 7 am – 8 am.
The program runs from May 26, and ends on June 25.  Breakfast will be served from FIELDTRIP weekdays M – F from 7 AM – 8 AM
Please reserve your breakfast 3 days before pickup. Breakfasts must be reserved by an adult and require an adult signoffBreakfasts must be reserved to pick up. No walkups will be accommodated. 
Breakfasts are free to all children who sign up.
For questions, please email: [email protected]