How ‘Chainy’ is Harlem?

An interesting map that looks at how much of a chain a given restaurant is. The national dataset shows which communities have independent restaurants and which ones are saturated by chains.

In Manhattan, the ‘chainiest’ neighborhood I noticed was around 34th Street:

By comparison, Harlem has chains but they aren’t the dominant kind of restaurant:

Here’s a zoom into 125th street:

You can explore the map and see where chains dominate and where mom-and-pop restaurants flourish here:

Don’t Trash Your Batteries

IMPORTANT: Batteries cause fires in recycling facilities.Do not place any batteries* or items that contain batteries in the trash or recycling – it is illegal!Batteries must be removed and disposed of properly. Bring to a SAFE EventSpecial Waste Site or Call2Recycle. Staten Island residents can find additional options here.

Sidewalk Detail

Upon first viewing, this entry into a Harlem brownstone courtyard look fairly typical. A gate. Steps down to the lower level. Steps going up to the top of the stoop.

Looking down, you can see the nice detail that the sidewalk installers added the street address into the cement.

Michelin Ranked Harlem Restaurants Increases

Harlem has a number of restaurants mentioned by Michelin:

  • Abyssinia
  • Barawine
  • Fumo
  • Jin Ramen
  • Melba’s
  • Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too
  • Oso
  • Red Rooster

Earlier this month, 3 more were added to the list:

  • Clay (553 Manhattan Ave.)
  • Contento (88 East 111th St.)
  • Reverence (2592 Frederick Douglass Blvd.)

To learn more, see:

Housing Policy Briefing

Join @IssueVoter this Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 5:00pm EST for a look a Congressional Housing Policy

Register here:

% of A-Grade Restaurants

How Calculated: Percent of currently operating restaurants with an “A” grade in the window, divided by all currently operating restaurants, including those with a “Grade Pending” in the window.

Source: New York City Food Safety and Community Sanitation Tracking System

Preserving The Legacy of Black Harlem

K. Taylor – Founder of While We Are Still Here

A fantastic article on the women of Harlem (Thanks Valerie Jo Bradley!) who are working to preserve the buildings, places, and spaces that defined Black history in Harlem, New York, America, and beyond:

Valerie Jo Bradley – Founder of Save Harlem Now

The Big Fix

If you have not already received the news about #BigFix Day over the last two weeks, I’m taking these last moments  to reach to make sure you know– On this weekend Saturday Sept 11 from 10AM-4PM on Randall’s Island, The Brown Bike Girl will be holding the 2nd annual Big Fix Day free bike repair & covid relief event on Randall’s Island.

2021 big fix flier v4.png

#BigFixDay is my NYC People’s Bike Mayor COVID initiative, established in Sept 2020 with the goal of fixing as many bikes as possible to restore and expand mobility options PoC neighborhoods hard-hit with COVID diagnoses & hospitalizations.  In 2021, your home and service areas – the adjacent neighborhoods of North Central & East Harlem and South Bronx – are still affected places! So we are coming to centrally located Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island! 

Local Restaurants vs. Chains

A dataset of nearly 800,000 independent and chain restaurants for the contiguous U.S. was used to examine the total number of restaurants with the same name and created an average “chainness” score, which measures the likelihood of finding the same venues in other parts of the country.

The paper that examined how “chainy” a community is, by examining how geographic, socioeconomic and infrastructural factors relate. It finds that high rates of chainness predominate in the midwestern and the southeastern U.S., especially in places that are more car-dependent, closer to highways, and with high percentages of people who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. 

A zoomed-in look at chainness in Montgomery, Alabama. The chainness score in this area is above the national average.

Independent restaurants were more prevalent in coastal cities and were associated with more pedestrian- and tourist-friendly environments, wealthier and highly educated populations, and more racially diverse neighborhoods.

A look at San Francisco’s low chainness. 

The analysis and maps show where chains proliferate, and where independent restaurants tend to thrive.

The View South on 5th Avenue

The view, looking through the old Bellevue Hospital gates (hence the BH mullions), south on 5th Avenue.


Tonight is a very rare opportunity to talk to top NYPD brass about policing in East Harlem.

Tonight at 6:00 PM, at the Church of the Apostolic Faith – 1421 5th Avenue (5th Avenue and 116th Street) – you are invited to speak about community policing with our elected representatives and with top members of the NYPD.

  • Rodney Harrison, Chief of the Department, NYPD
  • Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
  • Inez Dickens, NY State Assembly Member
  • Mark Levine, NYC Council Member
  • Athena Moore, Manhattan Borough President’s Office
  • Nilsa Orama, Community Board 11 Chair
  • Nina Saxon, NYCHA Manager

Density of Bars and Restaurants Serving Alcohol (by population density)

How Calculated: Number of alcohol outlets with licenses allowing any alcohol to be purchased for on-premise consumption divided by the population, using NYC DOHMH intercensal estimates; expressed as service outlets per 100,000 residents

Source: New York State Liquor Authority

The Wiz

Catch The Wiz on Saturday, August 28th at East River Plaza, 517 E. 117th Street, NYC  

Supported by KTPA and NYSOM!
Kids Night Out! featuring The Wiz!,
directed by Sidney Lumet, 134 min., 1978, USA

“Adventures of Booga and Mommy”, Episode 1, directed by Jermaine Smith, 3 min, USA

Starring Diana RossMichael JacksonNipsey RussellTed RossMabel KingLena HorneRichard Pryor and many others The Wiz is a musical retelling of L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) in the context of contemporary African-American culture.  The Wiz will be preceded by the short film “Adventures of Booga and Mommy.”

This Kids’ Night Out program will also offer fun and giveaways provided by East River Plaza.


Hello Harlem Neighbors,

With COVID, many of us have thought about the plight of our neighborhood’s restaurant owners, workers, and delivery people. This is an interesting time to look back into Harlem’s historic places to eat, and The Schomburg is a great place to explore historic menus and other ephemera.

Here is the Savoy’s floorplan:

And two restaurant menus from 125th street:

To browse historic menus in Harlem, see:

Storefront Academy and the 40’s

The Storefront Academy

The storied Storefront Academy has changed to a Charter School and is now struggling to come online in the COVID-19 era.

The Children’s Storefront was a tuition-free private school in Harlem, founded in 1966 by the poet Ned O’Gorman.  It was the subject of a 1988 documentary film, The Children’s Storefront, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

The mural on their east wall (behind the BP gas station at 129th Street and Park Avenue) is wonderful and inspiring, albeit marred somewhat by the “Now Enrolling” sign.

1940’s Streetview

The wonderful blog Gotham to Go (the labor and love of one of our Madison Avenue neighbors – has a great piece on a wonderful project that stitched together the 1940s tax photos of NYC into a kind-of mid-century street view.

Coal is being delivered on West 129th Street:

And Madison Avenue between 126 and 127 is barren with not a sign of a tree, trash or life:

Notice how there used to be a restaurant at the ground level on the north west corner of 126/Madison:

To see more: