Randall’s, Ward’s, and Sunken

In 1885, there was Randall’s Island, Ward’s Island, and Sunken Medows, all separated by channels joining the Halrem and East Rivers with Hell Gate and Long Island Sound:

The map, for sale on Ebay, shows fascinating details on buildings, orchards, groves, and marshes that are no more:

Midnight In Harlem

Another white rock group with a song positioning themselves and the audience ‘below’ Harlem and defining Harlem as “the other side of town”:

Eric Adams Visits Lex/125


A History of Methadone and Harlem

Across New York City, a certain kind of medicine is administered not in a regular pharmacy or a doctor’s office, but in its own kind of space altogether. Most often, these are brick-and-mortar locations, clustered in lower-income communities of color; increasingly, such treatment sites are mobile and distributed. In either case, one specific type of person seeking medical care is being segregated from nearly all others. Opioid addiction may have received more attention in recent years, but the geographic footprint and spatial practices of methadone maintenance treatment remain hyper-concentrated and sequestered. Communities such as Harlem are overburdened with facilities providing care for a large proportion of the city’s estimated 28,500 people in recovery; yet there are very few methadone clinics to be found in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods such as the Upper East Side. Meanwhile, patients themselves have long borne the brunt of controversy and conflict with neighbors and the state alike, compounded by familiar vectors of discrimination and policies that conflate disease with crime, and treatment with punishment. As the City opens the country’s first officially-sanctioned supervised injection sites, charting a new direction in harm reduction, Zoe Adams explores the fraught history of New York’s methadone clinics, and questions whether one particular form of healing needs its own separate space in the first place.

To read more of Zoe Adams’ article, see the link below:

Randall’s Island Wins Grant to Improve the Shoreline

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and RIPA (Randall’s Island Park Alliance) has recently announced $4.3 million in funding toward a multi-use pathway repair and living shoreline restoration project. This vital funding will help the Randall’s Island Park Alliance address erosion, stabilize the shoreline, and improve coastal resiliency along the Water’s Edge Pathway. 

Half-mile stretch of Randall’s Island pathway and shoreline to be reconstructed

NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Liam Kavanagh and Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA) President Deborah Maher today announced funding for multi-use pathway repairs and living shoreline restoration at Randall’s Island Park. The $4.3 million project, funded by a $3.72 million grant from NYS Department of State and $660,000 from RIPA, will address erosion, stabilize the shoreline, and improve the park’s coastal resiliency along a half-mile stretch of the park’s Water’s Edge Pathway.

“Randall’s Island Park stands out as both a waterfront resource and a recreational hub for surrounding communities, and thanks to this $4.3 million project the park is on track to become more resilient while offering new programming opportunities for all New Yorkers,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “We thank the Department of State and Randall’s Island Park Alliance for their support, and we are proud to partner with RIPA to significantly improve the park’s shoreline and multi-use pathway.”

“During the height of the pandemic, we saw greater visitation from our surrounding communities, an increase of nearly 60% coming from East Harlem alone. The popular pathway, comprising paved bike routes and pedestrian paths, has been catalytic in the Park’s transformation, and serves both commuters and recreational visitors. We are excited to receive the grant and we look forward to working with NYC Parks to restore and enhance the shoreline,” said Deborah Maher, President of the Randall’s Island Park Alliance.

The project will significantly improve the shoreline along the Water’s Edge Pathway, which runs between the 103rd Street Footbridge and the Little Hell Gate Inlet. Eroded pathway sections will be repaired and expanded to create new areas for shoreline activities including fishing, picnicking, and seining. The project will also perform seawall repairs and add nature-based features and native plantings, improving wildlife habitat and providing opportunities for educational field trips and community science projects in the area.

Black Cowboys

East Harlem has a riding center on Randall’s Island that is managed by a storied Black Cowboy.

Although more prominent in the South, there is a small but longstanding group of Black cowboys in NYC who have migrated from places like Texas, Virginia and Mississippi.

Dr. George E. Blair—a 90-year-old descendant of the buffalo soldiers—who produced an all-Black cowboy rodeo in Harlem for over 30 years and comes to the city every summer to continue to teach New Yorkers how to ride horses at his New York Riding Academy.

To watch a video of Dr. Blair, see:



In 1936, on this day, Jesse Owens qualified for the US Olympic team, running the 100 m trial in 10.4 seconds (note the Ohio top).

He also jumped 26′ 3″ in the broad jump, and set a world record for the 200 m race – 21 seconds.

What few people know, is that this qualification and his world record, were all done on Randall’s Island in the stadium. It was in East Harlem that Jesse Owens qualified for the 1936 Berlin Games.

A month later, in Berlin, Jesse would win 4 gold medals and destroy Hitler’s dream of using the olympics to showcase white/Aryan superiority.

A Raised Bed and Birdhouse

As seen near Taino Towers

Randalls Island

At the base of the Triborough bridge (where the pedestrian walkway starts in Astoria) there is a wonderful, vintage and cast metal map of Randalls Island:

Note the red button on the right-hand side that indicates where you are.

Note how Wards Island was not ‘open’ to the public (greyed out) and had a dock on the east river. There is also a more significant water/marsh/wetland separating the two islands at the time – although admittedly they were physically joined by infill.

The presence of the Wards Island Bridge (at 103rd Street) on this map indicates it dates from after May 18, 1951: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wards_Island_Bridge

The baseball fields (one of which seems to have bleachers) are indicated as 1/4 circle indents.

Downing Stadium – now Icahn – had a more Greco-Roman, half oval set of stands at the time.

Today, the printed map – enamel on fiberglass – looks much different:

With public space on Wards Island, welcoming the public.

Seen on FDB

As Seen on 2nd Avenue

140% Increase in Visitors to Randall’s Island

RIPA (the Randall’s Island Park Alliance) emailed yesterday that the number of pedestrians and cyclists who visited the park, increased by nearly 140% in recent months!

Randall’s Island has served as a respite for all who come to walk, run, and bike along its ten miles of safe, open non-vehicular pathways. The Island boasts 330 acres of parkland with clean green space for recreation and a safe escape from city apartments.

RIPA encourages you to visit and enjoy picnicking, exercising, playing games, and having fun. RIPA has also been able to host a number of virtual and in-person yoga classes, Island tours, walks and many small group in-person outdoor events.

To learn more: https://randallsisland.org/