1932 was an amazing year in Harlem:

Arthur Schomburg was appointed curator of the ‘Negro Division’ of NYPL at the 135th Street Branch (managing the priceless material he donated to NYPL that documented the life and achievements of the Black diaspora

The renowned sculptor Agusta Savage opened The Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts (you have to love that name). The studio was located at 163 W. 143 Street

Agusta Savage

The Harlem Harlicans were introduced by Lillian Armstrong (Louis Armstrong’s wife – divorced in 1938) to the Harlem scene. The Harlem Harlicans were an all woman swing band

Lil Armstrong

The Rockland Palace and Savoy Ballroom host drag balls. One of the Black contestants – Bonnie Clark protests that the judges favor white drag queens

Drag Performers

119th And Lexington

There is a wonderful view of Lexington Avenue looking north from 119th Street on sale on Ebay:

Click HERE to see the listing.

The 8″ x 10″ glass negative has a huge amount of detail. Just look at the top image of how the sign for 119th Street wraps around the streetlight so the street name/s would be illuminated at night.

Below, you can see a horse-pulled hearse, stopped outside an undertaker’s. While the closest horse is clear, notice how the further horse’s head is a blur.

More clearly, however, is the blurring of the driver. With the long exposure times, a restless leg (swinging back and forth) would not be captured. Nor would a head that turned back and forth over the course of the exposure. The result is that the driver almost appears to be head and legless as the detail below, shows:

110 years later, the fire hydrant shown below is recognizable, but distinctly differently styled from contemporary models.

The image looking up Lexington (below) can be compared to the Google street view below it.

Harlem 1936 and Harlem Now

Join #HarlemRevisited 
A Convening about the Past and Now

Conditions in Harlem Revisited:
From the 1936 Mayor’s Commission Report to Today
The lessons of the past have much to teach us today. Join this convening if you care about a better future for Harlem and New York City.

Panelists and participants will discuss the 1936 Report on Conditions in Harlem, which was presented to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in the aftermath of civil unrest. The 1936 report was not released by City Government but was published by The New York Amsterdam News.
The convening will also present current-day concerns gathered from 62,000 New Yorkers by the NYC Speaks initiative. The day’s discussion topics will include Crime and the Police, the Economy and Employment, Hospitals, Health and the Environment, Education and Housing. Conveners will consider recommendations from the 1936 report, data from NYC Speaks and implications for the current City government.
Learn more about the conference and the 1936 Mayor’s Commission Report at harlemconditions.cityofnewyork.us.Register to attend the convening, either virtually or in person, at bit.ly/harlem-1936.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 
9:30 AM – 6:30 PM
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard 
New York, NY 10037
#HarlemRevisited is presented by The NYC Department of Records and Information Services, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and Vital City.
Conditions in Harlem Revisited:
From the 1936 Mayor’s Commission Report to Today

RSVP to Attend

Photoville on St. Nicholas Ave.

Photoville – the annual photography show in NYC – has photographic banners up in St. Nicholas Park, visible from St. Nicholas Avenue at 133rd Street. The show presents visiting cards – mass produced photographs of Black Americans in elegant clothing.

These 19th century photos show a Black middle-class that had fought to uplift themselves and their families in the aftermath of the collapse of Reconstruction and the surge in white terror that targeted any display of Black pride or success.

The exhibit is technically ‘over’, but likely to remain for a few days more. Make sure to walk by.

Free Films on Randall’s Island

Come early before the movie at 6 PM for Picnic & Play – we will have fun free activities including lawn games, crafts and more! Limited free snacks will be available.

Films will begin at sunset (8 PM)

Location: Fields 39 & 40, near the Randall’s Island Connector

Check out our exciting movie lineup below!

Summer of Soul Redux?

Summer Of Soul (… Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), the Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson-directed film that won the Oscar and the Grammy for documenting 1969’s now-famed Harlem Cultural Festival, has inspired a reboot of the landmark music event.

Ambassador Digital Magazine editor-in-chief Musa Jackson, who attended the 1969 event and appeared in Summer of Soul, said Tuesday that he, BNP Advisory Group strategist Nikoa Evans and event producer and Captivate Marketing Group president Yvonne McNair are teaming to launch the Harlem Festival of Culture in the summer of 2023.

The multi-day outdoor concert event will be a reimagining of the 1969 fest and take place in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, where the original took place when it was known as Mount Morris Park. Official dates have not yet been announced.

“The original event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that I will never forget,” Jackson told Billboard. “With this initiative, we want to create something that evokes that same sense of pride in our community that I felt on that special day in 1969. We want to authentically encapsulate the full scope: the energy, the music, the culture. We want people to understand that this festival is being built by the people who are from, live and work in this community.”

Photography at the Schomburg

Make sure to check out Been/Seen – an exhibit of historical and contemporary photography at the Schomburg Library Gallery – on display now.

This exhibit juxtaposes classic images in the Schomburg’s collection with new work.

Compost Project Launch

May 14th at 3:00 PM

Abyssinian Tot Lot at 130 West 139th Street

MMPCIA Meeting on Tuesday

Join MMPCIA on Tuesday at 6:00 PM

Here’s the link:


Caribbean New Yorkers

The largest wave of immigrants from the Caribbean came to Harlem during the Harlem renaissance. Indeed, many of the greatest artists, luminaries, and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance were Caribbean-born. Claude McKay, Marcus Garvey, and Arturo Schomburg.

Claude McKay

Almost a quarter of Harlem’s Black population was foreign-born in the 1920s. Earlier, however, in 1880, the distribution of Caribbean immigrants was thin:

However, by 1910, the beginnings of a Caribbean enclave around Lenox/5th Avenues and 131st to 138th Streets had begun:

The father of James Weldon Johnson – Harlem Renaissance poet and author of the Black National Anthem: Lift Every Voice and Sing – was born in the Bahamas and likely figured in the census data map, above.

See more at Mapping Historical New York.

Questlove Notes That Harlem in 2022 is Still Facing Many of the Issues it Faced in 1968

Governor Hochul & OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham: Stop Fueling the Overdose Epidemic!

We are asking Governor Hochul and Commissioner Cunningham to commit to reducing the disproportionate density of drug programs in communities of color like Harlem. We believe that a fair-share distribution of small-scale, effective, and holistic OASAS-licensed programs in all New York neighborhoods will lead to more effective outcomes and reduce overdose deaths. By leveraging the OASAS relicensing process and new Opioid Settlement funds, Governor Hochul and Commissioner Cunningham have the power to rebalance OASAS programs on a geographic and racial fair-share basis.

Sign the petition if you agree.

Currently, the imbalance in Harlem is such that 75% of the opioid treatment patients that OASAS sends to programs located in Harlem and East Harlem do not live in our community – traveling from as far away as Staten Island. While our community only accounts for 8% of all opioid treatment patients, OASAS sends 20% of all patients to Harlem every day. We are advocating for OASAS to decentralize the concentration of opioid centers in Harlem and commit to a data-driven and equitable approach that increases access to community-based programs that are small-scale, effective, and holistic.

Why is this important?
We ask OASAS to join us in fighting this imbalance for three reasons. First, we know that when programs are more conveniently located in all neighborhoods, drug treatment success increases with positive outcomes. Second, we know that the current presence of treatment mega-centers in communities of color reinforces the message that addiction is a Black issue and one that should be contained in Black neighborhoods. Third, concentrating the majority of the city’s programs in Harlem fuels the overdose epidemic. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to go out of their way to access vital care. Equitably distributing the locations of treatment centers throughout NY will not only work towards racial justice, it will also lead to better health outcomes for all.

Sign the petition if you agree.

Traveling While Black

Make sure to visit the Schomburg Library before the end of the year to see the fantastic exhibit “Traveling While Black”. The Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Kevin Young notes:

Since the start of their experience in the Americas, Black people have been defined by travel, displacement, and resistance. 

Whether in the horrors of the Middle Passage or the rebellion of Maroon communities made up of escaped slaves, travel has meant much—and something much more—for Africans in the Americas. This exhibition, our first as we celebrate The New York Public Library’s 125th anniversary and the Schomburg Center’s 95th, explores over a century of travel. Moving from the Great Migration of African Americans north and west at the start of the twentieth century to the restrictions and resistances of travel in the Jim Crow South and the Jane Crow North, Traveling While Black examines a history of travel, from those who found themselves exiles within their own country down to the pilgrims and pleasure seekers of our time. 

War marks many of the peregrinations of the last century, often offering African American soldiers their first glimpse of other cultures beyond the United States. They returned with a new energy and renewed hope, whether in the offerings of jazz after the Great War, or the opportunities abroad for expatriates after World War II. The freedom that African Americans sought at home and fought for abroad they often found in travel. Returning Black officers and recruits started motorcycle clubs and organized tour groups, traditions that continue today. The somewhat open road and the mostly great outdoors provided Black sojourners with literal and emotional vistas to revel in. 

While confronting restrictions from Jim Crow laws and surveillance by would-be law enforcement agencies stateside, everyday travel meant obeying unspoken rules of the road. Domestic journeys involved ingenuity, often employing the Green Book, that guide for Black travelers developed in Harlem by Victor Green. Carry your Green Book with you…you may need it! reads one tagline for the guides. The Schomburg Center retains the largest and most complete collection of Green Books in the world; in many cases we hold the only known copy. But as any number of African American guidebooks found here indicate, from runaways to resorts, the idea of escape has had larger resonances for Black culture. Questions surrounding Black bodies in motion—whether driving, walking, or traveling while Black—still persist, asking us to consider the meaning of migration, movement, and freedom. 

—Kevin Young

It’s My Park Day

Harlem Libraries

I thought it might be interesting to look at Harlem Libraries from a data perspective.

Here is the data on which of the Harlem branches have the most holdings:

Keen readers will, however, wonder if the size of holdings is somehow related to the nearby population. To do this, the population within 3/4 of a mile of each library has been used in the calculation. The results are fascinating.

The Countee Cullen Branch on West 136 (behind the Schomburg, has almost one book for every person in the neighborhood.

By contrast, the Harlem Branch (West 124th Street, on Marcus Garvey Park) and the 115th Street Branch have only one book for 3 people.

The other 3 branches have roughly 1 book for every two residents.

Aaron Douglas

The esteemed Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas has two of his amazing works up at the Whitney Museum.

These large 5′ square works are signature examples of his mature style – one that you might recognize if you visit the Schomburg which owns a number of his pieces.

To learn more about Aaron Douglas, see:


And to visit the Whitney, see:


NYC’s Open Storefront Program

The Open Storefronts program is available October 30 to December 31, 2020. 
The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis.  The program allows eligible businesses to conduct activity on sidewalks, on roadways in the Open Streets: Restaurants program, or a combination of both.  To learn about siting requirements for storefronts and sidewalks, who is eligible and FAQ CLICK HERE 

CB11 Full Board Meeting

Tonight CB11 will have a full board meeting and discuss budget priorities.  Harlem Neighborhood Block Association is asking for two things to be highlighted in the budgetary report including:

  • We are requesting a City Council analysis of the distribution of addiction programs throughout the five boroughs, with a mandate to recommend how the rebalancing of these programs can be implemented. In conjunction, we are requesting a City Council agreement on a moratorium of any new or expanded addiction programs in CB11.
    • New York City must address how the persistence of OASAS and DOHMH licensed addiction programs in CB11 that exceed community need (and primarily serve New Yorkers from other communities) – is a form of systemic racism.
    • OASAS and DOHMH have quietly avoided acknowledging that their siting decisions are not based on their own data regarding proportionate community need, but are racially and economically driven instead, and along with indifferent city agencies and politicians, they routinely oversaturate Black and Latinx communities with the addiction programs that wealthier and whiter neighborhoods reject.
    • The impact of this decades-in-the-making form of systemic racism has been to brutalize the quality of life for East Harlem residents, degrade the economic viability of the East Harlem business community, and discourage tourism and development in the 125th Street and Lexington Avenue corridors.
  • Marcus Garvey Park is a jewel in our community. We ask that CB11 request and advocate for security cameras to be installed in this park to enhance public safety for the children, teens, families, and residents who enjoy it.

If you are interested in joining the conversation, tonight starting at 6:30 please follow the calendar link, here:

Oral History

The Schomburg has an amazing collection of oral history of Harlem residents. Some names you’ll certainly know as big-name political and cultural figures. Others, are neighbors:

This is a neighborhood oral history project that works to both preserve and document Harlem history through the stories of people who have experienced it. This project will collect oral histories of people who have lived or worked in the surrounding Harlem neighborhood and train community members to conduct these interviews. Both longtime and more recent residents are invited to share their neighborhood stories, documenting Harlem’s past and present history. Interviews will be preserved at The Milstein Division, available in a circulating collection, and accessible here at the New York Public Library website.

Take a moment and listen to the voices:



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: