The Fires

Most Harlem residents know about (or lived through) the era of disinvestment, redlining, and white-flight that disfigured Harlem in the second half of the 20th century. Many also know that this time was a time of countless fires that started from squalid living conditions, unmaintained building systems, apathy, simple arson, and calculated insurance fraud.

The photo below of the building just west of the Apollo theater shows (in the 1940’s tax photo) an occupied 4-story commercial building with a few open windows and busy pedestrian traffic:

Note how Ella Fitzgerald is playing in the Apollo.

40 years later, however, in the 1980 tax photo, you can see that this commercial neighbor of the Apollo has been devastated by fire. You can literally see through the building to the back (126th Street) and the plywood hoarding (not the contemporary green Department of Buildings green) blocking access.

The Corn Exchange Sign – Brooklyn

While the Corn Exchange Bank was founded in 1853 at 67 Pearl Street in Manhattan, most Harlem residents think of the Corn Exchange building on East 125th Street:

Historically, this building looked similar, but slightly different:

The bank was an outgrowth of the old Corn Exchange, where merchants met and arranged cereal grain prices with farmers.  Corn Exchange merged with many smaller banks in the late 1800s, which gave them offices across the city and into the city of Brooklyn (not yet merged into New York City). These acquisitions and other outposts enabled the Corn Exchange to inaugurate the branch banking system in New York City in 1899.

In 1907 a Flatbush Avenue branch opened and this faded ‘ghost sign’ remains in Brooklyn:

In 1954, Corn Exchange merged with Chemical Bank to form Chemical Corn Exchange Bank. When Chemical merged with New York Trust in 1959, the words “Corn Exchange” were dropped. Chase Manhattan merged with Chemical in 1995.


Residents of some neighborhoods are at much greater risk of experiencing violence – and its many health effects.

Violence is rooted in historical disinvestment and racism.

Evidence shows that violence results from social structures that limit access to basic needs – structures that are fueled by racism, residential segregation, and neighborhood disinvestment. Where these structures persist, people are exposed to violence. For example, low-income neighborhoods of color are known to be hit the hardest.

This map shows the parts of NYC that were redlined 90 years ago as part of racist housing policy that set off decades of disinvestment and intergenerational poverty.

A map of recent shootings lines up with the heavily redlined areas of the Bronx, Harlem, and northern and eastern Brooklyn – showing clearly how today’s violence is closely related to the ways that racist policies are embedded in our society.

Decades of government and societal disinvestment from practices like redlining means limited opportunity and resources, and results in higher rates of poverty in some neighborhoods.

As a result of this disinvestment, we see a clear relationship between poverty and violence. As a neighborhood’s poverty level increases, so do assaults.

Cars Parked in Front of a Hydrant (with NYPD Placards…) Delay FDNY Response

Two cars with NYPD placards parked on an East Harlem fire hydrant as firefighters rushed to extinguish a brownstone fire. This caused a delay in water as the chauffeur had to maneuver the supply line under and around the cars.

This is a major issue recently with cars blocking nearly every hydrant in the city, not only making them hard or impossible to use , but making them incredibly hard to locate.

When seconds count, these cars could be the difference between life and death.

Meet Your Mayor

As you likely know, the mayoral race in NYC is almost overwhelmin. To help voters navigate options, THE CITY has created Meet Your Mayor, which shows you how the candidates’ stands fit with how you are seeing the race.

Here’s what to do: You answer a few short multiple-choice questions on some of the most pressing matters facing the city — from COVID recovery to public school admissions to NYPD discipline and much more.

The major candidates have already answered the same questions.

Voila: Meet Your Mayor will reveal your best match or matches among the candidates

To get started, click below on any of the 3 topics. Answer questions with how you feel about these issues. Then the candidates that agree most with your answers will be displayed:

Now Meet Your City Council 9 Candidates!

Fire on Park Avenue

You may have heard about the fire last week on Park Avenue between 128/129. Given the presence of the Metro North tracks, the trucks had to extend ladders and evacuation buckets in an odd configuration with one extended a number of storefronts, but essentially parallel to the ground: