Metro North Viaduct Replacement Update

The team is working to minimize impacts to the community and on Metro-North Railroad schedules. Over the next several months, mobilization and some site activity will occur for Phase 1 of the PAV project. Then, beginning this summer, we expect to begin work underneath the Viaduct, constructing new footings and columns (substructure work). In coordination with the NYC Department of Transportation, there will be temporary removal of parking lanes in 2-block increments alongside the Viaduct on a rolling basis. As soon as work in each segment concludes, those parking lanes will be reopened, and work will move onto the next segment. Sidewalks will remain open, and emergency access will be maintained. We’ll share more information as we get closer to this work in the summer, including in our next newsletter and through pre-construction community notifications.

We’ll share additional details on some of the work planned for 2024 later in the year. You can find details from our recent presentation to Manhattan Community Board 11 on the project website here, as well as an overview of the project timeline, below.

Neighbors Under the Viaduct: Urban Garden Center, La Placita, and Parking Lots
We know La Placita, the Urban Garden Center (UGC), and parking lots are important to the East Harlem community. Given their locations under the Viaduct, the contractor, MTA, City, and stakeholders are working closely together to minimize impacts on the operations of all facilities.

UGC’s retail operations will be temporarily relocated 5 blocks south (under the Viaduct, between East 111th and East 112th Streets) for the duration of the project.

We’re pleased to report that we have been successful in significantly reducing the length of impact on La Placita. La Placita operations will not need to be relocated until the second quarter of 2024, and we expect to have events back to their current home in late 2025, with fully restored aesthetics and functionality. We’ll continue to coordinate with the City and Friends of La Marquetta, including identifying a temporary site for La Placita operations during the relocation period.

Some of the other parking facilities located under the Viaduct will also require relocation at various points in the project. Alternate locations for parking operations will be provided for each of these temporary relocations.

Art & Design Update
This project will include a permanent art installation at East 116th Street, as you may remember from our emails about the open call for artists earlier this year. The artist will be selected by a professional panel with input from Community Board members and local elected officials. The unique characteristics and diversity of the East Harlem community will be part of proposal review. We look forward to sharing updates on this as the project progresses.

Good Neighbor Initiative
Being a good neighbor to the community is important to the MTA, and part of that is ensuring our project and contractor are accountable and responsive to community feedback. We’re pleased to announce that the PAV project will include a Good Neighbor Initiative. This initiative will grade the contractor on factors like environment and livability, site upkeep, cleanliness, and housekeeping factors. Those grades will then be tied to financial incentives.

Once construction is fully underway, we’ll share a public quarterly report card showing how the contractor is doing, and ways in which the Good Neighbor Initiative is helping improve the project. As part of this effort, we will distribute regular surveys to members of our stakeholder advisory group. Additionally, members of the public can always submit feedback on worksite conditions through our project email or hotline.

Construction Community Liaison
In February, Allan S. Valerio joined the team as the project’s Construction Community Liaison. Allan will be the point person on day-to-day construction questions, concerns, and feedback. You can reach Allan at (347) 422-7780 or [email protected]. Allan is Spanish/English bilingual, and he will become a familiar face in the neighborhood as he conducts community outreach, educational programming, and addresses your feedback on the project.

FBI Alert for Seniors

The FBI’s Summary of Elder Fraud Report: 

In 2022, the total number of complaints received from victims over the age of 60 was 88,262.  The monetary losses to elderly victims has risen at an alarming rate, losses of $3.1 billion were reported in 2022, which is a 84% increase over 2021.  The average loss per victim was $35,101, with 5,456 victims losing more than $100,000.

Call Center Fraud (Tech and Customer Support schemes), continued to be the most common type of fraud reported by seniors, with over 17,800 complaints and over $587 million in losses.   Monetary losses due to Investment Fraud reported by seniors increased over 300%, more than any other kind of fraud, largely due to the rising trend of crypto investment scams.

To educate the public and provide as much information on the types of frauds targeting seniors as possible, the IC3 has released its publication of the 2022 IC3 Elder Fraud Annual Report. This report is a companion report to the 2022 IC3 Annual Report released earlier this year.  This report focus’ on crime types, state statistics, and common frauds affecting over 60 victims reporting to IC3. 

Also, in the last couple weeks released some other alerts that may be of interest. They are:

IC3 Warns Chinese Community: IC3 published a public service announcement yesterday to warn about a scam targeting the Chinese community in the U.S. Criminals posing as Chinese law enforcement or prosecutors are telling potential victims that they are suspects in financial crimes. Victims are told to pay the criminals or face arrest or violence. The PSA offers tips for recognizing and avoiding the scheme. 

Link to PSA: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Criminals Pose as Chinese Authorities to Target US-based Chinese Community 

Sextortion Victim Scam: IC3 also published a PSA last Friday warning the public about for-profit companies that are offering sextortion victims “assistance” services. While law enforcement and non-profit agencies will provide assistance at no charge to victims, these companies charge victims exorbitant fees. The PSA includes examples of deceptive tactics, provides tips for avoiding assistance scams, and explains how to file sextortion complaints with IC3. 

Link to PSA: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | For-Profit Companies Charging Sextortion Victims for Assistance and Using Deceptive Tactics to Elicit Payments  

You can find the release here:

There’s also a brochure you can download here:

115 to 123

Metro North is going to be completely replacing the elevated tracks between 115th Street and 123rd Street, starting in about 9 months or a year. However, not only are they going to do this massive task, but they’ll do it while the tracks are in use.

The engineering behind this is all predicated on closing off parts of Park Avenue and side streets and using a massive gantry system to hoist sections of track into place, once new supporting pillars are ready.

The replacement of this section of the elevated track is urgently needed to replace a 130+ year old structure that has far outlasted expectations.

Sugar Hill Arts Festival – Tomorrow!

Click here to learn more:

NY Post Raises Councilmember Jordan’s Council Attendance Record

The NY Post notes that Councilmember Jordan has missed 46 percent of her council committee and caucus meetings since last year, records show.

She’s been recorded absent 53 times and present 61 times with one entry listed as “conflict” since taking office in January of 2022.

“I wish she would be more active on the committee and the council,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), who chairs the veterans committee.

This year alone, she’s missed five meetings of the Aging Committee she serves on, four Youth Services and Sanitation Committee meetings, two Veterans Affairs Committee meetings and two full Council Committee meetings.

The councilwoman also skipped two meetings of the committees on Civil and Human Rights and Women and Gender Equity.

Richardson Jordan, 36, also was recorded as absent from the Council’s Manhattan delegation meeting on April 27. 

Drive Metro North

If you’ve ever taken Metro North and wondered what the view would be like at the front of the train – driving it – there is a new video game out that allows you to drive a train from Grand Central to Harlem, and then up to White Plains

In the screenshot below you see the inside of Grand Central, before the train departs for Harlem.

The game – which can be livestreamed on Twitch – has some pretty impressive visuals – in the Park Avenue Tunnel, on the Harlem Viaduct, over the bridge to the Bronx, etc. The game was developed by Dovetail Games and is called Train Sim World 2 . Within the game you can choose to drive along the Metro-North’s Harlem line.

In the screenshot below, you are looking south, on Park Avenue towards 98th Street where the trains go into the tunnel to Grand Central.

This intro to the Harlem Line is remarkably beautiful in how it has recreated the experience of riding/observing Metro North:

To read more from Gothamist, see:

New 5G Poles Coming to Harlem

You probably recognize the LinkNYC kiosks that sprang up a few years ago – replacing payphones.

Mayor De Blasio touted them as a way to bridge the digital divide and provide information (advertising) to New Yorkers, even if the map of locations was heavily skewed to the wealthier and more commercial sections of Manhattan:

Now the company that runs LinkNYC – CityBridge – is going to add more kiosks that are outfitted with a 35′ tall 5G tower, so they can bolster flagging advertising revenue with renting 5G broadcasting capability to the major providers. The proposed ‘look’ of this new tower is shown below:

In order to address the digital (access) divide, CityBridge is required to install 90% of the new poles above 96th Street in Manhattan and in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, per the new deal with the city. Among the total of 4,000 structures required to be built, CityBridge is also required to install 739 in 13 so-called “equity” areas.

City officials picked the locations based on their substantial foot traffic, low median incomes and lack of broadband options for local households.

Some have argued that libraries (by comparison) have been more effective than LinkNYC at addressing digital inequity. Libraries provide “the hardware, the software, that connectivity free of charge to anybody who wants to come in their doors or sit on the stoop outside for the Wi-Fi that leaks outside the building.”

The city’s three library systems make 8,500 computer workstations available to the public and offer free Wi-Fi at every branch. Since 2015, they have also lent Wi-Fi hotspots to patrons.

Harlem Canvas for Change


ART DOORS is a project where the 125th Street BID worked with property owners to allow artwork to be created by the community on the outside of the doors that they use to receive their freight. Often these doors become eyesores as they are set back from the building line and they fall victim to being a place for where we have witnessed public urination, graffiti, litter and more. 

The 125th Street BID saw the unsightly conditions as another opportunity for placemaking community engagement with the community. The 125th Street BID presented a challenge to the NYPD Explorers program and a community organization “YOUTH ON THE MOVE” to use the doors as canvases to express their thoughts and feelings about human rights and social justice.   This black and white exhibit brings a new look to 124th Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue.

A special thanks to Barbara Askins, who shepherded this wonderful free outdoor art exhibit.

The Lee Building

The Lee Building. Park/125. As seen on a dull day from the Metro North platform.

Mass Transit – 1837

The New York and Harlem Railroad was the first public streetcar service – mass transit – in New York City. The first line of horse-drawn carriages traveled from Prince Street to the Harlem Bridge on 4th Avenue (Park Avenue), reaching Harlem in 1837.

Below is an image of the early depot that serviced the horse-drawn streetcars.

Among the company’s founders was John Mason, a wealthy banker and president of Chemical Bank who was among the largest landowners in New York City. They decided to build their railroad on the eastern side of Manhattan Island, convinced that it would never be able to compete with steamboat traffic on the Hudson River.

The New York and Harlem Railroad eventually became the New York Central Railroad and then the Metro North we know today.

A train at about 103rd Street, headed south and about to go into the Park Avenue tunnel. You can just make out Marcus Garvey Park in the haze, above the last cars of the train.

4th Avenue (Park Avenue) presented a challenge with the drop from Yorkville down to East Harlem, so initially a trestle was built of wood – eventually to be replaced by the masonry structure we know today (98th Street to 111th Street). Beyond that is an increasingly fragile iron and steel structure that extends to the Harlem River (Metro North) Bridge.

You can see the 1950 film, here:

that shows a train coming into New York City, crossing the Harlem River, then going through East Harlem, and eventually entering the Park Avenue Tunnel.

New York Health and Hospitals Wants Your Feedback

The Harlem Community Advisory Board’s 2022 Annual Public Meeting

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

5:00pm Live via Webex

All are welcome to join. For more information, please call (212) 939-1369

Fair Share and Safety Protest to Support Harlem’s Children

And Their Right to Attend Schools Free of Drug Activity

Today at 11:00

The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association demands that the new drug site on East 126th Street be moved to a commercial or industrial zone, away from Harlem’s children. The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association believes that helping people suffering from addiction should not also endanger parents and children going to school.

If you can, please join us Today at 11:00. We’ll meet at the south plaza of Park and 125th Street, across from the main Metro-North entrance.

Please come out to support Harlem’s children, and to ask New York City, and New York State, to equitably distribute programs and services in all New York neighborhoods, and not simply pack them over and over again, in Harlem and East Harlem.

Rally to Support Harlem’s Children

And Their Right to Attend Schools Free of Drug Activity – Saturday at 11:00

Mayor De Blasio placed the nations first opioid injection site directly across from a Harlem Pre-School with no community involvement. The block where this injection site has been located is already completely oversaturatated with men and women in methadone treatment, and the drop-off point for the Wards Island shelter population – a process that leaves these vulnerable men with no support services at the corner of Lexington and 126th Street.

The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association demands that this facility be moved to a commercial or industrial zone, away from Harlem’s children. The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association believes that helping people suffering from addiction should not also endanger parents and children going to school.

If you can, please join us on Saturday at 11:00. We’ll meet at the south plaza of Park and 125th Street, across from the main Metro North entrance.

Please come out to support Harlem’s children, and to ask New York City, and New York State, to equitably distribute programs and services in all New York neighborhoods, and not simply pack the over and over again, in Harlem and East Harlem.

Harlem Night Market is Back

Guess who’s back! And bigger than ever! That’s right, the Harlem Night Market returns Guess who’s back! And bigger than ever! That’s right, the Harlem Night Market returns to the historic La Marqueta this December 17th, 18th & 19th.

Join us the last weekend before Christmas as we celebrate the best food, makers and music from across East and West Harlem. This year we’ve expanded to include family friendly activities at @urbangardencenter and more vendors than ever in the stalls at @publicmarketsnyc.
@tedsmooth & @storminnorman will be holding us down again on the 1’s & 2’s and there will be plenty of hot foods and warm sweets to keep the chill off as you shop our makers plaza for unique holiday gifts.

Be sure to bring your wallet, your appetite, and your friends, and come celebrate with us while supporting small and local businesses.

Don’t wait in long lines! Free “Priority Access” tickets are available right now on EventBrite so click on the link in our bio and get your tickets now.

The Harlem Night Market is brought to you through partnerships with @uptowngrandcentral@tbo.harlem@nycedc , @unionsettlement and @cmdianaayalanyc, in addition to, support from @poncebank@urbangardencenter@qupey@shopharlemmade and @elmuseo

Vendors apply at link in bio!

Proof of vaccination and ID are required to enter. Face coverings must be worn at all times when not actively eating or drinking.


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 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]

The Train Used to Stop at 110th Street

Above is a rendering of the 110th Street station in 1876 on what became the Metro-North line on Park Avenue. Note that above 110th street the train line was not on an iron el platform, and instead was on a solid masonry platform.

You can see spacious upper Manhattan farmland, a few brownstones (long since gone and replaced by projects), the tunnel at 98th Street, and horse and buggies.

The 110th Street station opened in 1876 and Harlem residents could catch up to sixteen trains a day that ran between Grand Central and William’s Bridge.

By 1896-1897 as the line’s grade was raised onto iron girders north of 111th Street and the new viaduct and the new 110th Street station opened in February 1897. However, by 1906, the New York Central Railway discontinued service at the 110th Street station.

The 110th Street station (as seen above) was partially built within the viaduct. The station’s waiting room was built into the northern side of the bridge over 110th Street and was located at street level.

From the waiting room, two staircases went up along the side of the viaduct’s retaining walls–one per side–to the side platforms atop the viaduct.

The stairways to the street still exist and are used in case of emergencies.

Letter Sent to CB11 to Support Converting Shelters in CB11 to Supportive Housing

Community Board 11 – Full Board Meeting

Tuesday (September 28) at 6:30 PM

Here is your chance to speak to our elected officials (and/or their representatives) about issues that concern you and your neighbors. You can raise your hand and comment, write questions/thoughts in the chat, and present any community announcements you might have.

Go to the CB11 calendar link below:

And register for the September 28th meeting.

As Seen on the Metro North Platform