All roads lead to West 145th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.
Dawn L. Jones, National Board Member and
NAMA The Gift Shop: Imani’s Creations & Entertainment, Inc., Holistic Harlem, DJ CARD CREATOR and Angel Star Foundation will be on display at Monday Night Jam Sessions at The New Amsterdam Musical Association 107 West 130th Street New York, NY 10027 each and every Wednesday evening @ Harlem Late Night Jazz. Come out celebrate “Women Telling Our Stories.’ Stop, shop, sip and save big with us! Special Discount to all Women and Social Workers this monthly only! Social Work Month 2023: Thank Your For All You Do To Break Barriers!
Head To Albany! Make Your Voice Heard!
Here is your chance to head to Albany and make a difference! Get on the bus this Saturday!
What: Somos Albany Conference When: Saturday, March 11, 2023
Bus Pick-Up: 116th & Madison Ave (right hand side corner–in front of Mt. Zion Church)
Leaves: 7:00am sharp
Departs Albany: 4:00pm sharp
This is an invitation only (non-transferable)
Please confirm if you able to attend for your free slot on the bus as soon as possible as seats are limited. Please RSVP to Christal Williams (917) 517-1187 (Mobile) via text/call.
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.
Borough President Mark Levine highlighted an article in the NY Times that mapped energy usage (carbon footprint) on a district-by-district basis and showed the stark contrast between dense urban areas with many public transit options and car-centric suburbs:
East Harlem Featured in War Era Propaganda Film
An amazing film from 1945 promoting the democratic nature of mid-century public education. Students are seen addressing their ‘comrades’, and protest and activism is promoted. The result of the students’ work is shown to be the gleaming new projects in East Harlem.
The film is short, but you can jump to 18:26 to begin to see East Harlem students and street scenes. There are views of East Harlem from the FDR Drive, from above the Park Avenue MTA viaduct, and much more. Note the virtual absence of women, and the focus on the Italian East Harlem community.
The film was produced by the U.S. Office of War information, overseas branch. It is no. 8 in the American scene series. An Italian-language version accompanies the English.
Make sure to head over to the Claire Oliver Gallery (2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 134th – www.claireoliver.com) to check out Stan Squirewell’s premiere solo exhibition.
Squirewell’s work examines who curates and controls the narratives that become accepted as history; from what perspective is history written, whose stories are told, and whose are neglected?
The works on display are founded on the concept of rebuilding identity using painting, photography and sculpture.
Squirewell uses found historic photographs of Black people, whose complex human identities have been erased either through time or through design, as a starting point. He then layers collage, painting and photography with each new element undergoing a ritualized burning.
Squirewell’s own family history has been a driving influence for the artist in his exploration of how we are taught simplified and singular narratives that disregard the complexities of contemporary identity.
There has been a lot of media coverage of the removal of gym equipment near the basketball courts in Marcus Garvey Park this past week. Even the New York Times has weighed in on the issue:
Back in January, the Harlem Neighborhood Block Association was invited to meet with the NYC Parks Commissioner about Marcus Garvey Park, and our request/vision for improving this amazing space. Our block association specifically asked (in writing) for:
New Yorkers come from many different countries. Here is a map of the largest national groups to immigrate and locate in the 5 boroughs.
Below are the top 1-5 national groups in NYC:
And below is a map of the 6-10th largest national groups in NYC:
The clustering is fascinating, and note how Staten Island is not a destination for recent immigrants.
New York City is home to 3.2 million foreign-born residents, the largest number in city history, and immigrants comprise nearly 31.7% of the city’s population.14 The 10 nations constituting the largest sources of foreign-born residents are the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, Jamaica, Guyana, Ecuador, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, and India.
Immigrants from each of these countries tend to be clustered in specific areas of the city. To name a few examples, a large Dominican community resides in Washington Heights (MN) and the South Bronx, while residents originally from China cluster in several neighborhoods such as Chinatown (MN), Sunset Park West (BK), Bensonhurst (BK), and Flushing (QN). Jackson Heights and Corona in Queens are exceptions, where immigrants from multiple nations live.
In March, 100 years ago, The New York Times reported on how the safety razor was the enemy of the Harlem barber.
The barbers’ cartel was said to number (in Harlem) 3-500 barbers in 1911, and they called for a price fixing agreement:
In order to combat the owners of the safety razor, patrons asking for a haircut only (no shave) were to be charged $1. While a standard haircut was to be set at 25 cents with a 15 cent (straight razor) shave.
You can download the full 100 year-old article, below:
Odyssey House is building (first knocking down) 52-54 East 126th Street and reimaginging it as a ~20 single unit supportive housing facility.
Graduates of Odyssey House programming will live on East 126th Street who have progressed beyond transitional housing. This new building will act more like a normal rental where tenants have individual and renewable leases.
Odyssey House also said that this building will be staffed by two Odyssey House people 24/7.
Racist Coverage at The New York Times – 1911
While America’s “Paper of Record” is an invaluable source for exploring the history of Harlem and beyond, the deeply racist language found in the New York Times’ archives continues to shock.
Clearly, racially motivated discrimination and segregation has always been a part of the Harlem real estate market. Before the first decade of the 20th century, housing segregation was conducted on an ad hoc basis, by individual supers and landlords. As Black New Yorkers (and increasing numbers of southern refugees from racial terror) moved into more Harlem blocks, white residents and property owners began to organize and coordinate their segregationist behavior into compacts and agreements.
The offensive language used by the NYT like “menace” and “invasion”, was tightly interwoven with financial anxiety. Property values were mentioned in the sub heading, and used to both justify racial covenants and to describe the impact a multi-racial neighborhood would have on white property owners:
And, while we know that the work put into the organizations, alliances, agreements, and covenants failed, in the end, the cumulative impact was a self-fulfilling prophecy of overcrowded Black buildings, deprived of capital (improvements) with exorbitant rents. Without the ability to freely choose where they rented, Black New Yorkers were more easily exploited by Harlem’s landlords who could charge significantly more than they would have been able to charge white tenants who could rent in other New York neighborhoods.
The article concludes by essentializing Black New Yorkers as part of a “shifting and uncertain people”, in order to rationalize the white racial anxiety expressed in the article.