“The overhead lights in the back of a public plaza in East Harlem, mounted on a rusty viaduct that supports the Metro-North Railroad, were not working. And Carey King was panicking.
Ms. King, who runs the plaza as the director of Uptown Grand Central, a nonprofit group formed by local merchants, was getting ready to reopen that section in the spring of 2021 after two years of construction to make it nicer. It was so dark that neighbors stayed away. Drug addicts shot up in the shadows and others found hidden corners to urinate and defecate.
When Ms. King tried to get the lights turned on, the Metro-North Railroad, which is operated by the state, said they were not its lights. She went to the city’s Department of Transportation, only to be told to check with Metro-North. After months of going back and forth with different agencies, she finally got city transportation officials to take ownership of the lights.
‘It’s a bad joke: How long does it take to change a light bulb?’ Ms. King said.”
There’s just a little while longer to enjoy the Winter Lights that are glowing here along East 125th Street.
Our trees are lighting even more blocks than ever before, from Fifth to Second avenues. We’re grateful as always to local small business Urban Garden Center for the many weeks they spend to bring you the holiday magic.
The lights will be up through the end of February — adding not only festive cheer, but extra shine and safety on the sidewalks on these dark winter nights.
On Frederick Douglass Blvd. near West 138th Street is a historical marker for Jacques d’Amboise.
Jacques d’Amboise was a ballet dancer, choreographer, actor, and educator. He joined the New York City Ballet in 1949 and was named principal dancer in 1953, and later choreographed over 15 ballets for them over his career. He most famously appeared in the films Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Carousel.
As an educator, D’Amboise founded the National Dance Institute in 1976 and in 1990 received the MacArthur Fellowship. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1995, and the National Medal of Arts in 1998.
(Harlem) Artists Wanted
As part of the Park Avenue Viaduct project, the MTA will be incorporating a commissioned permanent site-specific piece of artwork at East 116th Street. MTA Arts & Design has put out an open call for artist submissions, open through the end of January.
You can learn more about this opportunity, including selection criteria, funding available, and how to submit, on the MTA website here.
In the spring survey of MTA riders, Harlem riders expressed frustration that their departure stations looked so much worse than the ones they exited.
Get a Job
We Need You! Now Hiring Emergency Snow Laborers 2022-2023 Season
The New York City Department of Sanitation has announced that registration is now open for those interested in working as Emergency Snow Laborers for the 2022-2023 winter season. Emergency Snow Laborers are per-diem workers who remove snow and ice from bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants and step streets after heavy snowfalls. Snow Laborers earn $17 per hour to start, and $25.50 per hour after 40 hours are worked in a week.
Snow laborers must be at least 18 years of age, be eligible to work in the United States, and capable of performing heavy physical labor. Additionally, candidates must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. All applicants must bring the following items at the time of registration:
Two small photos (1 ½ square)
Original and copy of two forms of identification
Social Security card
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
Those interested in becoming a Snow Laborer must register for an application appointment at nyc.gov/snow. Registration appointments take place at the Department’s 59 garages. Applicants should not attend the appointment if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
HNBA’s October meeting will be on Zoom, tomorrow, Tuesday, October 11th, at 7:00 PM.
We’re going to have representatives from the MTA presenting on, and answering questions about the project to replace the MetroNorth viaduct from East 115th Street up to East 123rd Street – while the trains continue to roll on! This major project will secure this aging and increasingly fragile public transit lifeline for New York.
In addition, the MTA presenters will talk about progress on the 2nd Avenue subway and where that project is headed at the moment.
Lastly, we’ll haveJoshua Clennon, a Community Board 10 member who works with HDFCs and will talk to us about the state of affairs of HDFCs in Harlem today, as well as what the future looks like for this important form of affordable housing.
Looking forward to seeing you soon. Topic: HNBA Meeting Time: Oct 11, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Decades of disinvestment, planned neglect, and overtly biased policies followed the devastation caused by redlining. The 1938 map below of northern Manhattan shows how our community was redlined:
The on-the-ground consequence of both redlining and its aftermath is seen in short film, shot from a car in the 1980’s. It has taken decades of public and private investment to bring Harlem back from this abyss even if there is still more work to be done.
To view the film as the camera person goes across 128th Street West(?) and then turns south on St. Nicholas and Frederick Douglass Blvd. see:
The Park Avenue Viaduct — a.k.a. the dark brown elevated tracks that carry Metro-North trains north of Grand Central — was built in 1893 and is in need of an upgrade.
After 129 years of operation, the tracks have started to show signs of stress, so the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is making plans to replace sections between 115th-123rd and 128th-131st streets along Park Avenue.
Simone Marques writes (and you can see our recent HNBA guest, Wilfredo Lopez who is running for New York State Assembly in the photos):
Hello dear Earth keepers!I hope you had a beautiful winter! Here, I’ve been doing lots of winter sowing… Yes, no reason to stop gardening during the winter if you can create mini green houses with translucent containers! And I’m reusing all kinds of containers, including 50 water bottles I rescued from the NYC Marathon last year. It’s a fun project! Just plant your natives seeds (the kind of seeds that go dormant and need cold stratification) and leave them outside all winter. When the time is right, they will germinate. Many of our natives can be direct sown too, so now it’s a good time to get your seeds. I bought them at Prairie Moon Nursery and on their website you can do a search by germination code. Code A is for direct sow. If you prefer plugs, I believe you can still order them. I’m officially a crazy plant lady 🙂 I have around 400 containers in my courtyard. If all goes well, I’ll have seedlings to give away. Fingers crossed!
What’s in the container? Native plants of the North East that will feed many pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies (they eat lots of mosquitoes) and many others. These plants are gorgeous, NYC strong and they are very beneficial! Every little garden can make a life or death difference. Bumblebees are extinct in 8 states already and endangered in New York. The use of pesticides is the main cause of insect death at alarming rates. No insects = no birds. No birds = no spreading of keystone plants seeds. It’s all connected! What can we do? Buy organic, compost, plant natives, replace turf grass with other alternatives, add pollinator gardens, no harmful pesticides… think global, but act local!
Many of our street tree beds are now colorful with daffodils and crocus because hundreds of wonderful volunteers planted these bulbs last Fall, all over the city. Hopefully we’ll be adding more natives ephemerals this year (they are the first plants to bloom and they feed the bees).
We already hosted two community clean ups this year. So much litter!! But hopefully we are inspiring more neighbors to take action too. Here are some pictures and some shocking facts about the 4 trillions of cigarette butts that every year are contaminating our water and soil with thousands of harmful chemicals. Did you know they can be recycled? Terracycle is the only company doing this here, as far as I know, but I hope that our Sanitation Department will do something about it ASAP. Smokers can make a difference by using the ashtrays until we have a better solution. After all the hard work, we had lunch @bargoyana Yum!! Amazing Brazilian-Belgian food and drinks.
We are getting together this Saturday morning on our beautiful East River Esplanade. Join the fun? Access on 96th St (cross under the FDR underpass). Water fountain and restrooms at the Stanley Isaacs Playground on 1st ave & 96th St.
I hope to see you soon. Please share and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Gratefully, Simone Marques
Green and Blue Eco Care
Lieutenant Governor Benjamin Facing Federal Corruption Investigation
Various media sites are reporting that Harlem’s very own Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is facing a federal corruption investigation.
Last Friday, the DailyNews reported that Southern District of New York investigators had recently subpoenaed state officials and State Senate employees regarding grants Benjamin had lined up in his former Harlem district. Per the News, “The inquiry is related to funds doled out through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, or SAM, a lump sum appropriation in the state budget administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, according to the source.”
On Sunday, the Times reported that with regards to the campaign-finance issue, after Gerald Migdol was indicted late last year, SDNY prosecutors “subsequently issued several grand-jury subpoenas late last year seeking records from Mr. Benjamin’s campaign committee, some of its paid staffers and firms consulting for the campaign, according to three people with direct knowledge of those actions.”
The Times notes that it remains unclear if Migdol is cooperating with federal authorities, or whether or not Benjamin will face any charges.
A spokesperson for Benjamin insisted in a statement that “neither [Benjamin] nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing, and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities.”
Busses and Trains
The MTA would like to know what you think of their busses and trains:
We’re writing now to ask you to join with other bus and subway customers worldwide to answer a brief survey (only five minutes). Everyone will be asked the same questions about buses and subways in their home cities. The transit systems around the world will then share and compare the results to learn from each other.
We hope you will accept this invitation to participate. Please note, there are two separate surveys below, one for buses and the other for subways — we hope that you will complete both. Follow each of the links below in your preferred language.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the Second Avenue Subway expansion project that would extend the Second Avenue line to 125th Street in East Harlem has moved to the engineering phase of the project timeline.
Governor Kathy Hochul and the MTA announced that the 2nd Avenue Subway expansion project will now enter the engineering phase.
This is all due to the InfrastructureInvestment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden in November that has provided $23 billion in new grant opportunities for transit expansion, a historic level of funding that is now being used in Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway (SAS2).
Phase 2 will include the construction of three new subway stations at 106th Street, 116th Street, and 125th Street in East Harlem. The governor noted that she’d spoken to “Secretary Buttigieg who shared the exciting news that the U.S. Department of Transportation is making a huge step forward on Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway expansion, which will unlock incredible potential for the people of East Harlem in expanding transit equity and economic opportunity.” She also noted that she has made a clear commitment to the people of East Harlem that she would keep this project moving swiftly.
Approximately 70% of East Harlem residents use public transportation to get to work, much higher than the citywide average of 55%. The expansion of the Second Avenue Subway would help advance the Biden administration’s and New York State’s goal for transportation equity and would improve the local community’s access to jobs, health care, and other services, while reducing congestion, both on the streets and on the Lexington Avenue subway line and improving air quality.
MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “The East Harlem community has been waiting for the Second Avenue Subway for decades. The new line extension will build on the success of Phase 1 and bring the total Second Avenue Subway ridership to 300,000, which is equivalent to the entire Philadelphia rail system. A big thank you to the FTA for moving the project to the next stage. My team is ready to go.”
Phase 1 of the project extended the Q line from 63rd Street to 96th Street and was New York City’s biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years. Service opened on January 1, 2017, with additional stations at 72nd Street and 86th Street. Since its completion, the Second Avenue Subway has carried more than 130 million passengers and carried more than 200,000 passengers on a pre-pandemic day.
Fast facts to know
This phase of the project will extend train service from 96th Street north to 125th Street, approximately 1.5 miles;
There will be new stations at 106th Street and 116th Street on Second Avenue and 125th Street at Park Avenue;
Phase 2 will provide direct passenger connections to the Lexington Avenue (4/5/6) subway line at 125th Street and an entrance at Park Avenue to allow convenient transfers to the Metro-North Railroad 125 Street Station;
Each station will have above-ground ancillary buildings that house ventilation mechanical and electrical equipment. These will include space for possible ground-floor retail;
Expansion will serve an additional 100,000 daily riders;
Will provide three new ADA-accessible stations – raising the bar for customer comfort and convenience; and
Increased multimodal transit connectivity at the 125th Street station – with connections to the 4/5/6, Metro-North trains and the M60 Select Bus Service to LaGuardia Airport, allowing convenient transfers to other subway and commuter rail lines, facilitating smoother, faster transportation across the city and region.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, “The Second Avenue Subway Phase II project advancing into project engineering is great news for the people of East Harlem and all of New York City. Long envisioned – but unfortunately too long delayed – the project is now full-speed ahead. I was pleased to secure the historic $23 billion in grant funding for mass transit capital projects in the bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs law, and will fight to ensure this critical project gets its fair share.”
New Voices is a grass roots political action committee founded by local civic leaders in Upper Manhattan to promote greater participation and transparency in the local political process by registering new voters and providing members with the training, guidance, and resources needed for everyday New Yorkers to run for positions within the New York County Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is governed by committees of citizens who are registered Democrats, from the national level down to state and community-level. The County is the most local level of party governance in New York.
New York County positions such as District Leader, Judicial Delegate, and County Committee are unpaid elected positions that wield major influence to shape the local Party’s platform, hold elected leaders accountable, and elect leaders to state/federal office or judgeships.
The problem- hundreds of county committee positions are left vacant each year undermining the democratic process and allowing only a few people to have say in the political process for New York County (Manhattan).
New Voices is here to engage the next generation of Democratic leadership and allow everyday New Yorkers to make their voices heard in the political process.
Bx 15 will be split into a new M125 bus route The M125 is a new route that will replace the southern portion of the Bx15 that runs along 125 Street in Manhattan and to the Hub via Willis Avenue. The new routing will preserve an important interborough connection and improve reliability for both routes created from the existing Bx15. The M125—where it will replace Bx15 service—will largely serve the same stops as the existing Bx15. However, 14 percent (7 of 49) of these Bx15 stops will be removed, improving the average distance between stops along this segment from 728 feet to 853 feet. View the full stop list here. As a new route replacing the M100 and Bx15 on 125 Street in Manhattan, the M125 will run 24 hours a day, with an all-day weekday frequency of 8 minutes or better. Due to the routing change, ridership will be closely monitored, and schedules will be adjusted accordingly. Learn more here.
A wonderful old ad, painted on the side of a building.
Omega Oil for Sun Burn, for Weak Backs, For Atheletes, Trial Bottle 10 cents, for Joints.