New York Times and The Loss of Brownstones Around Marcus Garvey Park

1940’s Tax Photo of 1883 Madison Avenue (east side of Marcus Garvey Park)

From The New York Times, August 25, 1991, Section 10, Page 5:

THERE must be some golden proportion for urban squares. The size and landscaping of some seem to be in absolute harmony with their surroundings, while others divide rather than unify.

Take Mount Moris Park, between 100th and 120th Streets, running from Madison Avenue to a line just west of Fifth Avenue. The western edge of the square is still largely residential, but the eastern edge is now down to two lone rowhouses as North General Hospital expands, eliminating what had been a solid block of century-old brownstones.

The park, opened in the 1860’s, is dominated by a central mass of rock rising perhaps 75 feet and topped with a fire lookout tower erected in 1856. Perhaps because it was so large, or perhaps because of the tower, the rock was never removed. Development came not long after the improvement of the Park Avenue railroad line and the erection of the Third Avenue Elevated, both in the 1870’s.

In 1881, the Real Estate Chronicle said “Madison Avenue in the immediate vicinity of mt. Morris Park is destined to be the place par excellence for elegant residents such as are needed by those people who, though of a refined home and pleasant surroundings, detest the hubbub and noise in other portions of the island.”

Thomas Treacy, an East Harlem builder, acquired the east side of Madison Avenue facing the park between 122d and 123d Streets and in 1882 completed a row of 10 houses there. The northern five were designed by Charles Romeyn, the southern five by Charles Baxter, but they were similar enough to be mistaken for a uniform row from a single hand.

Each house had a three-sided bay window running up the facade, a high stoop and carved panels of slightly varying design. The row was numbered 1883 to 1901 Madison Avenue and the side street elevations of the corner houses were rendered in deep red brick, a rich contrast with the chocolate-colored brownstone facing.

The earliest residents were fairly prosperous. No. 1891 was occupied by the family of Charles L. Dimon Jr., president of the Boston, New York and Southern Steamship Company. Some of the new residents already lived in Harlem, among them William Hannam. He had a flooring business on Union Square and he moved to 1883 Madison Avenue from an older brownstone at 54 East 124th Street.

By 1900, the Mount Morris Park area was almost completely built up with brownstones, a few churches and a few apartment houses. But because of the rock formation the residents on the east side were cut off, at least visually, from those on the west side. What the residents on the east side could see, though, was the giant new iron viaduct of the railroad up Park Avenue, right behind them, which was elevated in the mid-1890’s. It cast a pall over the nearby streets.

In 1906, the Hospital for Joint Diseases was established in a brownstone at 1919 Madison Avenue. By 1924 a hospital complex covered the blockfront between 123d and 124th.

In 1938, Father Divine, the religious leader, bought 1887 to 1889 Madison Avenue as his organization’s retreat. Gradually the residential character of the east side of Mount Morris Park began to disintegrate, but the west side remained fairly intact. In the 50’s, a public school was built on Madison Avenue between 120th and 121st Streets.

In 1971, the Landmarks Preservation Commission included the buildings on the west side in a Mount Morris Park Historic District, noting “the survival of a substantially unbroken row of handsome residences . . . is in itself rare in Manhattan.” The 122d-to-123d-Street rowhouses on Madison Avenue were still intact, all with their original stoops.

IN 1979, North General Hospital took over the buildings of the Hospital for Joint Diseases; it is just finishing a new hospital building on the Madison Avenue blockfront between 121st and 122d Streets. It is also assembling the 122d-to-123d-Street block for a low- and middle-income co-op housing project. Demolition of the brownstones there began in the mid-1980’s.

Now there are only two brownstones of the original 10, Nos. 1883 and 1887. No. 1887 is owned by the hospital, but 1883, at the 122d Street corner, is owned by Beula Brown. An attempt to reach her by telephone failed, but Reinaldo Higgins, a spokesman for the hospital, says that it is negotiating with the owner.

The residents on the west side of the square are nervous about institutional expansion in their neighborhood. According to Jeffrey Roualt, a neighborhood resident and counsel to the 500-member Mount Morris Park Community Association, the group has met with the landmarks agency to press for designation of the unprotected edges of the square.

But it is hard to imagine that the last two vestiges of the Victorian era on the east side of Mount Morris Park will remain standing much longer.

Below is a map showing how many brownstones once lined the east side of Marcus Garvey Park, with the Hospital for Joint Diseases between 123/124.

The view of 1883 Madison Ave, today:

Opportunities from the Manhattan DA

The Manhattan DA’s office is excited to announce that as of January 30th, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has begun accepting applications for the 2023 High School Summer Internship Program. The application is currently open to current sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who live or go to school in Manhattan. The deadline for applying is March 1st at 5 pm. This rigorous internship provides an insider’s view of the criminal justice system. Participants have the opportunity to engage in workshops and discussions about the role of the District Attorney, civic engagement, leadership, and more. 

For more information about eligibility and application requirements, visit:

If you have any additional questions, you can email [email protected] or call Imani Doumbia, Education Coordinator, at 917- 808-6421.

Marco Perez Jr.

East Harlem Community Engagement Coordinator

O: (212) 335-9679 | M: (347) 302-2765

Want Something Fixed?


This year Congressman Espaillat brought home nearly $8 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fund the Second Avenue Subway expansion, rebuild our city’s crumbling bridges, repave our decades-old roads, and so much more to make transit routes safer and more accessible for all New Yorkers – but he needs our help to monitor and ensure infrastructure service requests and outages are made public and repairs are handled as timely as possible.

This interactive tool developed by his office allows residents to pin a location on the leftward map or type in a specific address to report any infrastructure issues that need immediate attention in your neighborhood and across New York’s 13th congressional district. The more issues or ongoing projects that you report, the more information he will have to help redirect federal funding to these projects.

Manhattan DA Bragg Clarifies

In the last month, I have seen, first-hand, your tireless, great work on behalf of New Yorkers. And I
have received valuable feedback on the January 3rd Memorandum.

The January 3rd Memorandum was intended to provide ADAs with a framework for how to approach
cases in the best interest of safety and justice. Our collective experience, however, has been that the
Memorandum has been a source of confusion, rather than clarity.

As I emphasized in my remarks to the office, you were hired for your keen judgment, and I want you
to use that judgment – and experience – in every case. Therefore, I am issuing this letter to memorialize the key elements that I conveyed in our office-wide meeting on January 20:

1) The position of this Office on a case will be presented exclusively by the Assistant who appears
on the case. The January 3 Memorandum provided guidance internal to this Office and it has
been, and will continue to be, supplemented and superseded through oral and written guidance,
including in this letter. The January 3rd Memorandum did not create any rights, substantive or
procedural, in favor of any person, organization, or party, nor did it place any limitations on the
lawful prosecutorial prerogatives or discretion of the District Attorney and his Assistants.

2) A commercial robbery with a gun will be charged as a felony, whether or not the gun is operable,
loaded, or a realistic imitation. A commercial robbery at knifepoint, or by other weapon that
creates a risk of physical harm, will be charged as a felony. In retail thefts that do not involve a
risk of physical harm, the Office will continue to assess the charges based on all of the
aggravating and mitigating circumstances presented.

3) Gun possession cases are a key part of our plan for public safety. People walking the streets with
guns will be prosecuted and held accountable. The default in gun cases is a felony prosecution.
We also will use gun possession cases as an opportunity to trace the sources of illegal guns and
build cases against gun traffickers.

4) Violence against police officers will not be tolerated. We will prosecute any person who harms
or attempts to harm a police officer.

Marcus Garvey Park Dog Run, Reviewed

Your feedback for Gothamist’s review of NYC dog runs made it onto their site:

The dog run in Manhattan that got the most mixed reviews was Marcus Garvey Dog Run, located near Madison Avenue and E. 120th Street. One reader said it was not a very good space for smaller dogs in particular.

“There is a small, very long and thin area for small dogs with nothing there but a broken bench; it’s an afterthought, and sitting in it would feel like an insult. In both areas, the ground is covered by dirt over which large (about 3 inches) bits of wood are spread. Maybe that’s fine for large dogs, but small dogs are soon filthy after running around in that muck. I can’t understand a way to go there with a small dog without needing to bathe the dog immediately after visiting, and since it’s not good to bathe dogs too frequently, how can small dogs use that dog run for daily exercise?”

From Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg:

Day 1 Memo – FACT SHEET

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)

Voting in the 68th Assembly District (the yellow area in the map, below)

which is mostly East Harlem has a special election day set for Tuesday, Jan. 18.’s Nick Garber has profiles on the two main candidates:

There are two candidates: Democrat Edward Gibbs and Republican Daby Benjaminé Carreras. Click on each candidate’s name to see their profiles, based on questionnaires that Patch sent to both men.

Subway Station Density

Many New Yorkers rely on the subway as their primary mode of transportation. Neighborhoods with greater subway access tend to have more foot traffic, making surrounding real estate highly desirable for residents and business. Subway use encourages active transportation (walking, biking), which improves the health of residents.

 About the Measure

Subway Station Density – Number per km2

How Calculated: 

Subway station density measure takes into account multiple route-transfer opportunities at one subway station and each stop is counted only once regardless of how many route-transfer opportunities are available at any given subway station. Density is calculated by dividing the count of MTA subways stations as of 2012 by the total land area in km2 of the UHF neighborhood (excluding inland water bodies).

For more information, visit

Source: The Built Environment & Health Project (BEH), Columbia University

Manhattan District Attorney

The NY Board of Elections has a ‘final’ list of Manhattan DA Candidates:

You can see other races and their candidates, here:

Mayoral Forum, Focused on MWBE Issues: Tomorrow Afternoon

HNBA Meeting Tonight @7 PM

On Tuesday, January 12th at 7pm, Join HNBA in welcoming:

  • Liz Crotty on who is running for Manhattan DA
  • Ruth McDaniels who is running to replace Bill Perkins on the City Council
  • Valerie Bradley from the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance

We hope you’ll be able to attend with questions for the candidates. For the Zoom link, subscribe to our blog:

Rent to Income Ratio

New Yorkers now pay about 34% of their income in rent. This ratio has been going up in fits and starts (but mostly up, up, up) since 1965. We’ll see how this pandemic and the economic fallout impacts these numbers:


HNBA January Meeting – Jan. 12, 7:00 PM

On Tuesday, January 12th at 7pm, Join HNBA in welcoming:

  • Liz Crotty on who is running for Manhattan DA
  • Ruth McDaniels who is running to replace Bill Perkins on the City Council
  • Valerie Bradley from the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance

We hope you’ll be able to attend with questions for the candidates. For the Zoom link, subscribe to our blog:

Lee Building for Sale

In 1979, Eugene Giscombe paid $40,000 for the 12-story office building at 1825 Park Avenue known as ‘The Lee Building’ (neighbors now think of this building as the Mount Sinai – hiding under the name Beth Israel -methadone hub of East Harlem).

He was quoted (when selling it recently for $48 million) that, next to marrying his wife, buying the historic Lee Building in Harlem was the best decision he ever made.

The Lee Building
The Lee Building

When Giscombe first purchased the building, it was only 20 percent occupied.  Savanna, the current owner, is asking around $75 million for the early 1900s-era building, or about $555 per square foot.

Tenants include Beth Israel Medical Center (Mount Sinai methadone) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Metro North Railroad and New York City subway lines that run through the nearby 125th Street station.

Tenants recently signed about 16,000 square feet of leases in the building, including an extension and expansion by Beth Israel and a new lease with Northwestern Mutual.

HNBA January Meeting – Tuesday, Jan. 12th

On Tuesday, January 12th at 7pm, Join HNBA in welcoming:

  • Liz Crotty on who is running for Manhattan DA
  • Ruth McDaniels who is running to replace Bill Perkins on the City Council
  • Valerie Bradley from the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance

We hope you’ll be able to attend with questions for the candidates. For the Zoom link, subscribe to our blog:

You can learn more about Liz Crotty here:

You can learn more about Ruth McDaniels here:

You can learn more about the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance here:

State Senator Brian Benjamin: More Revelations Regarding Potentially Illegal Campaign Contributions

The City has more this morning about very questionable donations to State Senator Brian Benjamin. Observers are wondering how the Senator can run for an office whose primary mission is fiscal oversight when his own campaign missed contributions that clearly were made to make it appear as if more people were donating to his campaign. Instead of having Terry English donate $350, for example, Terry English donated $100, and English Terry topped that up with a ‘separate’ $250…

Terry English (2009) –

The three donors contacted by THE CITY who denied ever contributing to or even knowing of Benjamin were employed by a security firm called Prime Protective Bureau or PPB.

Also among the Murphy-directed $250 donations Benjamin’s campaign now pledges to return came from a PPB manager named Rashaun Dudley, who acknowledges making a contribution. His employer is listed as “student” in the records the Benjamin 2021 campaign submitted to the CFB.

PPB’s founder and CEO, Terry English, made a $100 money order contribution to Benjamin in July 2020, as did his wife, Sharon Doldron. A third, $250 money order donation to Benjamin is on record in the name of “English Terry,” dated Nov. 8, 2019 — coinciding with the start of the donations pooled by Murphy.

None of those three donations are among the 23 the campaign says it will be relinquishing to the Campaign Finance Board.

For the full story, see:

The Alhambra Ballroom

The Wall Street Journal has some sad new that the Alhambra Ballroom on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and 126th street is facing bankruptcy because of the lack of weddings, parties and other events that typically book the Alhambra.

The ballroom was renovated in 2003 and recently got a supermarket, below. This space has featured stars like Billie Holiday. And, while he didn’t go in the Alhambra, Fidel Castro held many press conferences in front of the Theresa Hotel, with the marquee of the Alhambra not far behind.

Join the Manhattan District Attorney Candidate Forum – Feb 4

Greater Harlem Coalition is pleased to host the next forum where 8 candidates for the Manhattan District Attorney position will answer your questions. Come see why some are calling this race

“The D.A. Election That Could Reshape New York City’s War On Drugs”

What is the topic of discussion?

The theme of the forum is Harlem’s Fair Share. This will be your chance to join a discussion of what the DA’s office, with so much legal power, can do to correct for the entrenched inequities residents and businesses in Harlem experienced relative to other districts in New York City. The forum can discuss inequities in terms of health outcome, education outcome, public safety, and the oversaturation of drug treatment facilities and adult homeless shelters in Harem. #inequity #healthinequity #educatioinequity #oversaturation #

How is Manhattan DA relevant for Harlem?

There are 8 candidates vying to replace Cy Vance as Manhattan’s DA. To give you some context, the DA office prosecute corrupted politicians, major drug dealers, illegal distributors of pain killers, and are key players in the implementation of supervised injection sites. Traditionally, DA in districts such as Queens and Staten Island have been more adamant in rejecting such sites (see WNYC report here and Gothamist report here).

How to join?

To attend the forum, go to this link: Attend the DA Candidates’ Forum.

Manhattan DA Candidates’ Forum

There are 8 candidates vying to replace Cy Vance as Manhattan’s DA. The Greater Harlem Coalition – – is hosting a virtual forum for residents of Harlem and East Harlem.

To attend the forum, go to this link: Attend the DA Candidates’ Forum

To submit a question to the candidates, go to this link: Submit a Question

The theme of the forum will be Harlem’s Fair Share and will be your chance to ask why Harlem and East Harlem have different services, programs, amenities, outcomes, etc. when compared to other New York City neighborhoods and what the Manhattan DA’s office can do about it.

The office of the Manhattan DA is the office that let the Trump children walk away from a criminal indictment, and how, mysteriously and subsequently, a $50,000 campaign contribution appeared in Cy Vance’s account – from one of the Trump lawyers pleading to let the Trump case. The New Yorker has a great article on how Trump got away with it all using high priced lawyers, ‘donations’, and the Manhattan DA’s office:

in 2012, Kasowitz donated twenty-five thousand dollars to the reëlection campaign of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors. Kasowitz decided to bypass the lower-level prosecutors and went directly to Vance to ask that the investigation be dropped.

On May 16, 2012, Kasowitz visited Vance’s office at One Hogan Place, in downtown Manhattan—a faded edifice made famous by the television show “Law & Order.” Dan Alonso, the Chief Assistant District Attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division, were also at the meeting, but no one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau attended. Kasowitz did not introduce any new arguments or facts during his session. He simply repeated the arguments that the other defense lawyers had been making for months.

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)

Vance defended his decision. “I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed,” he told us. “I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.”

Just before the 2012 meeting, Vance’s campaign had returned Kasowitz’s twenty-five-thousand-dollar contribution, in keeping with what Vance describes as standard practice when a donor has a case before his office. Kasowitz “had no influence, and his contributions had no influence whatsoever on my decision-making in the case,” Vance said.

But, less than six months after the D.A.’s office dropped the case, Kasowitz made an even larger donation to Vance’s campaign, and helped raise more from others—eventually, a total of more than fifty thousand dollars. After being asked about these donations as part of the reporting for this article—more than four years after the fact—Vance said he now plans to give back Kasowitz’s second contribution, too. “I don’t want the money to be a millstone around anybody’s neck, including the office’s,” he said.

Kasowitz told us that his donations to Vance were unrelated to the case. “I donated to Cy Vance’s campaign because I was and remain extremely impressed by him as a person of impeccable integrity, as a brilliant lawyer and as a public servant with creative ideas and tremendous ability,” Kasowitz wrote in an e-mailed statement. “I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid-pro-quo’ for anything.”

Given the stakes for the justice and accountability for the current president and his family, criminal justice reform, and many, many other issues, we hope you’ll attend.