The January HNBA meeting will be virtual, and you are invited.
We’ll gather on Thursday, January 20th at 7:00 PM to hear from, and ask questions of, NY State Senator Cordell Cleare. If there is something you want Albany to do for you, or Harlem, here’s your chance to speak directly to our state senator.
In addition, we’ll have a brief presentation from the West Harlem Art Fund on Florence Mills, and the Art Fund’s effort to name the plaza in Historic St. Nicholas Park after her.
Make sure to invite a neighbor.
Click COMMENT (below) to request the Zoom link.
A number of scenes from the blockbuster film of the 70’s, Serpico, were filmed in East Harlem.
This site details them all and shows how the area around Pleasant Avenue, Rao’s, and Jefferson Park was crucial for a number of scenes.
Over-incarceration has not made Manhattan safer. Years of data and research have proven that incarcerating those charged with nonviolent and minor offenses leads to recidivism, and makes us less safe. Proven strategies to address the root causes of this behavior, such as mental health and drug and alcohol addiction, make us safer.
And with jail now costing a half million dollars per year just to house one person, reserving this tool only for those who commit truly violent acts allows our city to use those millions of dollars to prevent gun violence and focus on truly violent crime. Tellingly, for years, Manhattan has over-incarcerated relative to every other borough in NYC, and has higher crime rate (see charts).
Through his personal life growing up in Harlem and his professional life as a civil rights lawyer and prosecutor, DA Bragg has seen every side of the criminal justice system. He’s released his policies and guidelines for his office to deliver safety and fairness for all.
Here are key points:
Continuing to prosecute dangerous crimes – Safety is paramount. New Yorkers deserve to be safe from crime and safe from the dangers posed by mass incarceration. DA Bragg will be tough when he needs to be, but will not be seeking to destroy lives through unnecessary incarceration.
Not prosecuting minor offenses that have no impact on public safety – This will not only make us safer by not further destabilizing lives, it will also free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crime.
Increasing the use of diversion and evidenced-based programs in lieu of incarceration – Well-designed initiatives that support and stabilize people – particularly individuals in crisis and youth – can conserve resources, reduce re-offending, and diminish the collateral harms of criminal prosecution.
Reduce Pretrial Detention – Particularly given the ongoing crisis at Rikers, and drastic rise in deaths in custody, we must reserve pretrial detention for very serious cases. The data show that the overwhelming majority of those released pretrial do not commit a violent crime while at liberty. The data also shows that incarceration in and of itself causes recidivism, so unnecessary incarceration makes us less safe.
Limit Youth in Adult Court – Research tells us that prosecuting children in adult court can lead to recidivism, making us less safe. This should be reserved for only the most serious cases.
Limit sentence length – Research is clear that, after a certain length, longer sentences do not deter crime or result in greater community safety.
Actively support those reentering – Supporting those returning from incarceration reduces recidivism and makes our communities safer. Over half of people returning to the city from state prison end up in homeless shelters. Finding better supports for them will make us safer.
Invest in communities impacted by gun violence – Communities impacted by gun violence need additional funding for community-based programs to strengthen community bonds and to support vulnerable individuals.
Day 1 Memo – FAQ
1. Why did he make these changes?
Alvin Bragg was elected to deliver safety and justice for all. From growing up in Harlem and working as a prosecutor, he’s seen every side of the criminal justice system and one thing is clear – what we are doing now is NOT working. He released a plan to fix it. New Yorkers deserve to be safe from crime and safe from the dangers posed by mass incarceration. He will be tough when we need to be, but we will not be seeking to destroy lives through unnecessary incarceration.
2. What does the Day 1 Memo say about resisting arrests?
Answer: First, assaulting an officer is a felony crime that the DA will prosecute (and has prosecuted previously in his career). Our policy change states that people cannot be charged with resisting arrest as a standalone crime, or when resisting arrest for a non-criminal offense such as “disorderly conduct.” This means that if someone is charged with a genuine crime and resists arrest, they can be prosecuted.
3. What does the Day 1 Memo say about robberies?
Answer: Robberies are a serious offense and will continue to be prosecuted (and have been prosecuted by DA Bragg previously in his career). The memo instructs ADAs to make a common-sense difference between two very different types of cases: a person holding a knife to someone’s neck, and someone
who, usually struggling with substance use or mental health issues, shoplifts and makes a minimal threat to a store employee while leaving. We will not treat these cases equally. We will continue to charge those who pose a genuine risk of harm with violent felony offenses, but will not over-charge those who pose no genuine risk with the same violent felony offense.
4. Over the last couple of years, there appears to be more mentally ill people on the streets. How will your Office help?
Answer: We will address the root causes of this, working hand in hand with the Mayor’s Office and other agencies to invest in services, including supportive housing, to ensure seriously mentally ill people receive the services they need and to ultimately reduce crime in our communities. When those charged with crimes present mental health issues, we will find appropriate programs to address those issues, and not send them to jail where we know they will not get the help they need.
5. What charges will no longer be prosecuted?
Answer: All felonies will continue to be prosecuted, but we will not prosecute certain low-level misdemeanors that will not impact public safety, unless they are part of a larger felony case. These include: marijuana, fare evasion, some trespass cases, driving with 1 or 2 license suspensions, non- criminal offenses such as traffic infractions, resisting arrest for any non-criminal offense, prostitution, and obstructing governmental administration.
6. How will we address repeat shoplifting?
Answer: We will establish a taskforce to work with mom-and-pop business owners, cure violence providers, community leaders, advocates and law enforcement to develop community-solutions and support services to this serious issue.
Vote on Tuesday
If you live in the 68th Assembly District (Robert Rodriguez’s old district)
Until the late 19th Century, New York’s middle class identified with the single-family home – a house that was only occupied by one family (servants were not considered in this calculation). Part of this strong class identification with the single-family home was a reaction against the crowded conditions in the tenements of the time. Multiple-family dwellings were seen as “lowly”, and in response, developers of the 19th century covered farmland in Manhattan, Harlem, and Brooklyn with row upon row upon row of brownstones – a row-house compromise between the developers’ desire for density and the middle-class owner (or renter’s) desire for singularity.
The promotion of “French Flats” – what we would simply call apartment buildings – was only possible once the elevator not only came into existance, but was mass produced enough to make it economically viable for inclusion in a 6 story (or taller) residential building. With the elevator, middle-class (and wealthy) New Yorkers could be tempted to imagine themselves living in an apartment building with other families. In addition to elevators, perks like security, laundry facilities, central (steam) heating, garbage removal, etc. were heavily promoted as class signifiers and as tempting amenities for the apartment curious.
The first true apartment building in Harlem still stands on the corner of 120th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. The Washington boasted a number of amenities that were meant to signal high-class, leisure, and labor-saving.
Well lighted, ventilated rooms, elegantly decorated, cabinet finished, elegant gas fixtures, mirrors and cornices, private halls, refrigerators, dumb waiters, electric bells, speaking tubes, sanitary open plumbing, steam heat, etc., were all promoted heavily on the advertising copy. The apartment, at the time, listed as ranging from $600 to $1,200 (per year).
(Note the use of the adjective ‘elegant’ which today has been replaced by ‘luxury’ in real estate marketing.)
East Harlem in a Video Game
East Harlem is featured as a location in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition. The look of the video game is inspired by the movie Spider-Man: No Way Home. In Marvel’s Spider-Man game, you play as Peter Parker as he tries to balance his normal life with saving New York City from Mister Negative, who wants to unleash a new virus called the Devil’s Breath, while also having to deal with some of his iconic villains.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes place after the events of the original game, and follows Miles as he tries to learn how to be a hero himself, while defending East Harlem from both the Tinkerer and the Roxxon Power Corporation. Both games feature many suits that callback to various points in each characters’ comic book history, and a lot of Easter eggs from both Spider-Man and Marvel lore. Being able to get both games at once now will be great for anyone that’s a fan of either Peter or Miles’s version of Spider-Man.
The Ultimate Edition of Miles Morales is available now as a Playstation 5 exclusive. You can check out the trailer for the new edition below.
With the 2nd Avenue Subway getting (theoretically) closer and closer to becoming a reality for East Harlem, it’s interesting to ask where does all the soil and rock that used to take up the space the tracks, tunnels and trains now occupy.
First of all, it’s important to note that Donald Trump held back funding for the East Harlem portion of the 2nd Avenue Subway for the entirety of his term. It was only when President Joe Biden and the Democrats passed President Biden’s infrastructure bill that New York finally had/has the funds to begin the East Harlem portion of the subway.
This is interesting given that Trump himself benefitted from the earlier Upper East Side section of the 2nd Avenue subway. First of all, a number of his properties on the East Side benefitted from the increase in accessibility and thus the value of the property itself. But, more interestingly, the Trump golf course that was built on the Bronx side of the Whitestone Bridge was made from some of the rubble from the Upper East Side portion of the 2nd Avenue Subway.
All those ‘features’ you see on the golf course – an attempt to mimic the windswept rolling landscape of coastal Scottland – were built by piling load after load of rock that was quarried below 2nd Avenue.
But what about other subways in our community? What happened to that subway rock that was removed so the trains could travel underground?
East Harlem’s other lines – stressed and desperately in need of the 2nd Avenue Subway – the 4/5/6 were constructed under Lexington and the rock and rubble from that construction went into New York Harbor to extend Governors’ Island to the south. The large (mostly) parkland area, furthest away from Manhattan, was built from 4/5/6 subway excavation material.
Rubble was not just used for golf courses and island expansion, the gorgeous Manhattan schist that gives the historic City College of New York’s buildings their black, sparkling look, was also material from subway construction. The digging of the 1/2/3 lines brought tons and tons of Manhattan schist to the surface and City College used this material to create some of the most impressive neogothic buildings in New York City.
Mulchfest 2022 will run from today through January 9. New Yorkers will be able to drop off holiday trees at one of 74 sites—35 are chipping sites—across the five boroughs, including parks and GreenThumb gardens. The trees are then chipped and recycled, and the mulch is used to nourish city trees and plants in every corner of the city.
During the chipping weekend—January 8 & 9—residents can bring their tree to a chipping site and watch their tree being chipped, and bring a bag of nutrient-rich mulch home with them. Weather-permitting, DSNY will also collect and compost clean trees left at curbs from Thursday, January 6, 2022, to Saturday, January 15, 2022.
Mulchfest, part of the New York City holiday tradition, encourages New Yorkers to make greening a family activity—turning holiday trees into mulch which can be used for gardening and to increase soil fertility.
Bring your tree to Marcus Garvey Park and give your tree a starring role in helping the community gardens of New York.
The People’s Money is a participatory budgeting (PB) process. That means New Yorkers decide what projects should get funded. These investments will support your community and contribute to a more fair recovery. Partners in this citywide TRIE Neighborhood initiative include community based organizations leading coalitions in each neighborhood, NYC Taskforce for Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE), Civic Engagement Commission and the Young Men’s Initiative.
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:
On Monday the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene visited CB11 and floated a trial balloon to hint that they are considering locating an opioid injection site in East Harlem.
The full presentation was given by Dr. Cunningham and is available here:
The specific pitch for the need for opioid injection sites is here:
If you are on Twitter, please reach out to @DrChinazo and/or her boss @NYCHealthCommr with any thoughts you might have on opioid injection sites being located in East Harlem. Feel free to use the hashtag:
Ascendant is announcing that they have won a grant to survey lower East Harlem for buildings that should be considered for landmarking:
About Ascendant Neighborhood Development Corporation: Ascendant Neighborhood Development (AND) builds homes, engages community members, and partners with allies to raise up neighborhoods that provide stability and access to opportunity for all. Since its founding in 1988, AND has supported the stabilization and growth of East and Central Harlem communities, advocated for preservation of affordable housing, and helped thousands of New Yorkers live with dignity and respect. Learn more: https://ascendant.nyc/
The El Barrio/Southern East Harlem survey area is a diverse mixed-use enclave within the larger Harlem community of Northern Manhattan. In addition to a variety of vernacular residential buildings dating from the late-1800s through the early-1900s, the area features several large-scale mid-20th century residential complexes including multiple public housing campuses.
The survey area boasts many outstanding civic, institutional, and religious structures of various architectural styles. Within the proposed study area are multiple individually designated landmarks, including Public School 109, 28th Police Precinct & Fire Engine Co. #53 Houses, St. Cecilia’s Church Complex, Public School 72/Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, and the Museum of the City of New York.
The area developed over many decades as a predominantly working-class neighborhood, and it has been home to a succession of immigrant groups. The new survey will focus specific attention on the history of El Barrio’s Puerto Rican community and its impact on the (re)development of the neighborhood. Ascendant, and our partners in the Landmark East Harlem (LEH) alliance, successfully worked to list the East Harlem Historic District on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2019. We successfully secured a determination of eligibility for the proposed East-Central Harlem Historic District in 2020, and we are working on a nomination to list that historic district in 2021. Ascendant and LEH, along with other local stakeholders, will use our new $12,000 Preserve New York grant to hire Marissa Marvelli to conduct the El Barrio/Southern East Harlem Cultural Resource Survey. The survey will help to identify potential individual State and National Register listings and the boundaries of potential new historic districts.
On 110th Street
The intersection of 110th Street and 3rd Avenue was ground zero for activism by The Young Lords.
In 1969, a group of New York City youth known as the Young Lords demanded change in the way the largest city in the United States handled sanitation. The initiative, known as the Garbage Offensive, wasn’t the group’s original plan of action, but it proved highly effective in calling out the needs and rights of the city’s Latinx community
The Young Lords were an activist group of poor and working-class Puerto Rican youth who modeled themselves after the Black Panthers, donned their signature purple berets, called for Puerto Rico’s independence, and hit the streets in search of a lofty organizing agenda in their home of East Harlem. But as the organization’s chairman, Felipe Luciano, humorously remembers, they found trash talk instead.
“So we’re on 110th Street and we actually asked the people, ‘What do you think you need? Is it housing? Is it police brutality?’” Luciano says. “And they said, ‘Muchacho, déjate de todo eso—LA BASURA!” [Listen kid, fuggedaboutit! It’s THE GARBAGE!] And I thought, my God, all this romance, all this ideology, to pick up the garbage?”
Join the Parks Service on a virtual tour of the Battle of Harlem Heights. Details in the link, above.
The Wiz, Tonight
Just a friendly reminder . . . tomorrow, Friday, September 24th is our final night of Movies @ ERP Summer 2021. East River Plaza and ImageNation Outdoors Movie Festival welcome you to join us for The Wiz. The event starts at 6:30 pm.
Walking distance to a subway station is defined as 1/4-mile or less. Distance was measured between the centroid of 2010 Census blocks and the nearest station entrance. Census block populations within areas defined as walking distance were summed across the neighborhood and divided by total neighborhood population.
Source: Metropolitan Transportation Authority ,United States Census
The Verge Measures UES vs. East Harlem Temperatures
The map above shows which neighborhoods in New York City are considered the most “heat-vulnerable.” In heat-vulnerable East Harlem, The Verge documented average land surface temperatures reaching as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. That was more than 20 degrees hotter than readings we took in the affluent Upper East Side. The Verge took these readings with a thermal camera on June 24, 2021, when air temperatures at the nearest NOAA weather station in Central Park only reached a high of 77 degrees.