Spring Is Coming – Volunteer for a Clean-up

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!

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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! 

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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). 

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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.

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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. 

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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 Daily News 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.


Thank you,

The MTA Market Research team

Bus Survey Links

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EnglishEnglish Bus Survey Link
SpanishSpanish Bus Survey Link
ChineseChinese Bus Survey Link
KoreanKorean Bus Survey Link
RussianRussian Bus Survey Link
HaitianHaitian Bus Survey Link
BengaliBengali Bus Survey Link

Subway Survey Links

LanguageLink
EnglishEnglish Subway Survey Link
SpanishSpanish Subway Survey Link
ChineseChinese Subway Survey Link
KoreanKorean Subway Survey Link
RussianRussian Subway Survey Link
HaitianHaitian Subway Survey Link
BengaliBengali Subway Survey Link

Feliz Día de Reyes! (3 Kings Day)

Camels on 3rd Avenue

2nd Avenue Subway Enters a New Phase

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 Infrastructure Investment 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.”

Get Involved in County Committee

New Voices for New York County
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.

If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, get started here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeJenYh4WpO739LuAdUJKAG91fO7YJqHQLuZWgSLcVMJWIJLg/formResponse

Harlem Substation

A beautiful rendering of “Harlem” in an Art Deco MTA substation for the ABCD lines, near St. Nicholas.

Bx15 To Be Split

Say hello to the new M125 bus route.

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.

Omega Oil

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.

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

Durst Sues the MTA

If you’ve ever wondered about those vacant lots, south of 125th Street, on both sides of Park Avenue that Uptown Grand Central works so hard to beautify, Durst Organization owns them.

According to The Real Deal, Durst is suing the MTA for stonewalling and failing to clarify what is required (or not) to develop the site.

The lawsuit, filed Friday with the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, stems from three East Harlem properties that Durst acquired in 2016 and 2017 for future development.

The vacant lots at 1800, 1801 and 1815 Park Avenue are located within the city’s Special Transit Land Use District, which requires developers to first get certified by the MTA and the city’s Planning Commission as to whether transit easements are needed to build.

The district was created in 1973 following the construction of a small section of the Second Avenue subway. In 2017, in preparation for extending the Q line from 96th Street to 125th Street, the zone was expanded into the area including the Durst properties. That meant Durst needed an easement certificate to get construction permits.

The article:

https://therealdeal.com/2021/11/12/durst-accuses-mta-of-stalling-east-harlem-development/

indicates that development has been postponed by the MTA withholding permissions that are needed to build on the Special Transit Land Use District.

The timing of this lawsuit is interesting given that President Biden’s infrastructure legislation is about to kickstart the 2nd Avenue subway. Perhaps Durst wants to develop in tandem with the subway construction, or perhaps before it, or not at all. The lots have remained eyesores for a long time now.

HNBA Meeting Tonight at 7:00

Happy Holidays!

Are you ready for holiday cooking with a twist of funny? 

Join stand-up comedian and host of the cooking/comedy show Dinner’s Ready Live (IGTV/YoutubeTV) for a night of fun cooking and big laughs. Dan will be teaching us how to make Spaghetti Carbonara from the refrigerator to the plate using simple ingredients. We encourage you to cook and laugh along! Here are the ingredients:

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

  • 1 BOX SPAGHETTI
  • 2 LARGE EGGS
  • 1/2 CUP PARMESAN CHEESE
  • 4 SLICES BACON (can use turkey bacon too)
  • 4 CLOVES GARLIC
  • 1/2 CUP PEAS
  • SALT/PEPPER TO TASTE

UTENSILS

  • 2 LARGE PANS/SKILLETS (FOR BACON/FOR SAUCE)
  • LARGE POT (FOR PASTA)
  • KNIFE (FOR GARLIC)
  • TONGS (FOR TOSSING PASTA AND SAUCE)

We’ll also be joined by comedian Ryan Brown who will join us for Carbonara trivia!

If you’re vegetarian, leave off the Bacon. But don’t leave off your sense of humor and good cheer!  See you from the kitchen!

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

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 http://beh.columbia.edu/.

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: https://vote.nyc/sites/default/files/pdf/candidates/2021/ContestList_6.22.2021_PDF_PrimaryElection_4.27.2021_.pdf

Mayoral Forum, Focused on MWBE Issues: Tomorrow Afternoon

CB11 Votes for a 12 Month Drug Program Moratorium

Nick Garber reports in Patch on the vote in Community Board 11 to try a 12 month moratorium on the siting of new drug programs in the districts.

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/drug-clinics-face-scrutiny-harlem-residents-push-back

The moratorium also asks for more data from the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to explain why East Harlem has been packed with addiction programs that other wealthier communities have rejected. Similarly, the moratorium notes that 80% of the people served by these programs in East Harlem don’t live here, but are drug treatment commuters who travel here for their programs.

The Church of All Saints

The landmarked Church of All Saints in East Harlem may have found a buyer. The New York Post reported recently that this church (which has been up for sale for a few years now, and includes the All Saints School complex to the north of the church which was closed in 2011) is negotiating with a potential buyer.

Historic All Saints Church — called the “St. Patrick’s of Harlem” — is about to be sold, The Post has learned.

The Catholic Archdiocese of New York shuttered the church in 2015 and the landmark building, along with its adjacent school and parish house, which occupy an entire block, have stood empty since.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese would not provide any details on the pending sale.

“There is no final agreement in place; things are in process,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

https://nypost.com/2021/01/23/historic-all-saints-church-in-nyc-to-be-sold/

There certainly has been a flurry of (scaffolding) activity at the site in the last month or so. You can see a huge vertical scaffold section that has allowed workers to examine and repair the topmost facade cross.

While it’s unclear if the church will be sold or not (many a deal has fallen through before finalized), and once sold, we have no idea if the buyer will warehouse the complex or develop it, still, there is local hope that this building will see new life in some form or another.

The building has been deconsecrated and stripped of religious items in 2017, and as with 98% of landmarking, the interior is not landmarked – a new owner could do whatever s/he wants with the inside.

Note the amazing organ and decoration back when the church was in use.

This church was built for the large Irish Catholic population in this part of Harlem and East Harlem at the turn of the 20th century. More recently, it served a primarily African-American and Nigerian parish base and was run by Franciscans.

Timeline of Our Annus Horribilis – 2020

The Museum of the City of New York has a fantastic timeline out that chart our collective Annus Horribilis – 2020.

Scroll down the page to see what happened and when. Here is an explainer video:

And here is the timeline itself:

https://mcny.nyc/nyresponds/timeline/

MTA Public Hearing re: NYS Eminent Domain Procedure Law

Tue, March 30, 6pm – 7pm

DescriptionThe Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”), on behalf of itself and its subsidiaries, will hold a Virtual public hearing under Executive Order 202.94 and pursuant to Article 2 of the New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law (“EDPL”) on the proposed acquisition of permanent & temporary property interests in properties in the Borough of Manhattan for Phase 2, Contract 2 of the Second Avenue Subway Project (“Project”). 

The hearing will review the public uses, benefits, purposes, and location of the Project, the impact the Project may have on the environment and residents of the area, and will give the public an opportunity to comment on the Project and the proposed Property acquisition. Description of the Project  The Second Avenue Subway, when complete, will provide a subway line with 16 new stations extending from 125th St. & Lexington Ave. to Hanover Square, will link MTA New York City Transit facilities with Metro-North Railroad at 125th St. & provide connections to buses. Acquisition of public & private real estate interests along the project route will be necessary for the construction and operation of the Project.

Phase 1 of the Project has already been completed. Currently, the line runs from E. 96th St. to E. 63rd St. along Second Av., where it joins the existing Broadway Line. Phase 2 of the Project will extend the line north to E. 125th St. turning west along E. 125th St. towards Lexington Ave.

Contract 2 consists of construction of the launch box for the Tunnel Boring Machine(s), bored tunnel north from 120th St. at Second Ave. and tunnel & cavern mining for the 125th St. Station and future entrance and ancillary facilities.

This public hearing includes property interests needed for Contract 2 only. Date, Time and Place of the Virtual Hearing Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Hearing begins at 6:00 p.m.  Registration to speak can be made in advance by visiting new.mta.info/2021EDPL-SASP2-hearing, which will remain open through the hearing date.  Registration will close at 6:30 p.m. Please note this Public Hearing is being conducted in a Virtual format under Executive Order 202.94.

The public may join the hearing by visiting https://mta.zoom.us/j/82605599788 or by calling 877-853-5247 (Meeting ID 82605599788).  A link will also be provided on the MTA website.

A Tribute to Women’s History Tickets, Sat, Mar 27, 2021 at 7:00 PM |

www.harlemoperatheater.org

REGISTRATION – Eventbrite

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-tribute-to-womens-history-tickets-146654097353&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwix5paZ_8HvAhWkct8KHUHPBdAQFjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw1tfToykmITTN8Rl5Nn4x_3

EVENT LINK – SATURDAY, MARCH 27th – 7PM
Click link to the YouTube livestream for March 27th at 7pm

https://youtu.be/Yl8McJthrOQ

DONATIONS WELCOME AND APPRECIATED

The MTA Wants To Hear From You

MTA New York City Transit Logo

Dear Valued MTA NYC Transit Customer,
Even in a global pandemic, we’re working hard to improve your experience with the transit system. As we plan for more customers to return, we need to hear from you, even if you haven’t used transit since before the pandemic began in March 2020. We’d like to get an idea about your concerns and travel needs, so that we can better meet and exceed your expectations.
The survey will be open 24/7 through Sunday, March 28, at 11:59 PM.
Finish the survey by then, and you can choose to be entered into a drawing to receive one of ten 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards or one of five 7-Day Unlimited Ride Express Bus Plus MetroCards.
Depending on how many subway lines and/or bus routes you choose to evaluate, the survey should take less than 15 minutes.
Take the survey.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us,

Sarah Meyer

MTA Chief Customer Officer

Harlem Sawmill

In 1639 the Dutch colonial authorities needed a steady source of lumber to build their mercantile city at the tip of Manhattan island. Harlem – a small coastal hamlet – at that time encompassed land as far south at 72nd street, and thus included the site of the Dutch sawmill that was erected in the northern forest lands. The site of the mill was located at what is now 74th Street and 2nd Avenue, and it was at this location that the Dutch company which controlled New Holland, sent a number of its slaves to work.

Enslaved Africans built New York, and it was their forced labor enabled the colonial Dutch to prosper.

For more on the Dutch and their use of enslaved labor, see: https://www.newnetherlandinstitute.org/history-and-heritage/digital-exhibitions/slavery-exhibit/slave-labor/