The Worst Subway Stations

The MTA’s customers have spoken. Harlem and East Harlem have some of the dirtiest stations, with the most open drug use on the platforms, and begging in the mezzanine.

https://new.mta.info/document/95531

In the spring survey of MTA riders, Harlem riders expressed frustration that their departure stations looked so much worse than the ones they exited.

Get a Job

We Need You! Now Hiring Emergency Snow Laborers 2022-2023 Season

The New York City Department of Sanitation has announced that registration is now open for those interested in working as Emergency Snow Laborers for the 2022-2023 winter season. Emergency Snow Laborers are per-diem workers who remove snow and ice from bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants and step streets after heavy snowfalls. Snow Laborers earn $17 per hour to start, and $25.50 per hour after 40 hours are worked in a week.

Snow laborers must be at least 18 years of age, be eligible to work in the United States, and capable of performing heavy physical labor. Additionally, candidates must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. All applicants must bring the following items at the time of registration:

  • Two small photos (1 ½ square)
  • Original and copy of two forms of identification
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

Those interested in becoming a Snow Laborer must register for an application appointment at nyc.gov/snow. Registration appointments take place at the Department’s 59 garages. Applicants should not attend the appointment if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Infrastructure

The City has a great article on how we can, as citizens, report what looks like a piece of infrastructure that is rusting, decaying, falling apart, whatever. The trick is knowing who’s the right person to call, and where can you report your concern?

When reporting on a crumbling part of the subway, a road, a bridge, or whatever, the first thing to ask yourself is who’s likely in charge of its maintenance. 

  • The city’s DOT has an online list of roads and bridges under its jurisdiction, and notes those that aren’t. The agency says it will respond within 14 days to a report made either through a borough representative or by calling 311. There is also a case tracking site to see the status of any complaint.
  • On the state DOT’s site, navigate to Region 11, representing the city, to report any damage to bridges and roads controlled by the state agency. 
  • As for the MTA, the agency says using social media can be the fastest way to interact with a representative regarding an issue with their bridges and tunnels, but their site also has mailphone and in-person contacts
  • For the NY State Thruway Authority, there is a dedicated hotline to report road conditions to, which is 800-THRUWAY (847-8929).

If you can’t figure out the right agency to call, two good places to get help are your local community board or the constituent services staff at your council member’s office. 

All community boards in the city have meetings where residents and other local stakeholders can express concerns or ask questions about anything pertaining to the neighborhood. Residents can call their boards outside of meeting dates and times to speak about their concerns.

The World Beneath Your Feet

311 is an amazing resource. One of the unheralded things it can address is if a manhole isn’t well seated, and makes a characteristic Clang-Clang as cars drive over it. If you live on a block plagued by this sound and want it to stop, 311 is your resource.

Utility companies and government agencies have equipment under the City’s streets. They access their equipment using square or rectangular-shaped metal covers. Companies and agencies must maintain their metal covers and the street surface around the hardware. 

You can report utility access covers that are:

  • Damaged
  • Sunken
  • Noisy

You also can report asphalt or concrete damage around the hardware. The Department of Transportation (DOT) investigates the reports and notifies the responsible agency.

Report a damaged, sunken, or noisy street utility access cover.

Seen On Lex

I noticed this manhole cover – although no person could get down this 14″ hole – on Lexington near East 128th Street:

Looking closely, you likely can see IRT – referring to the 4/5/6 line’s initial parent company, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company which went out of business (folded into a unified transit system in 1940). But PSC? That stands for the city agency that managed engineering projects (like the subways) in a part collaborative, part oversight role. The name was the Public Service Commission.

Jackie Robinson Block Party

The new Jackie Robinson Museum is about to open and is hosting a Block Party. And yes, you’re invited.

https://jackierobinson.org/museum/opening-block-party/

Cocktails (or Mocktails) on Randall’s Island

This FRIDAY, July 22, you are invited to make Cocktails on the Farm with RIPA’s very own Farmer Juan Carlos! Spend time with old friends – or meet new ones – here on the Urban Farm. 

There will be three cocktail/mocktail recipe options for you to choose from, all including ingredients picked the same day from the Farm. Enjoy cucumbers, basil, spilanthese, and more! One drink will be on the house for the first 45 attendees, and then more may be purchased. 

The event will take place from 6:30 PM to 8 PM at the Urban Farm here on the Island. Click here for details.

Our next Cocktails on the Farm event won’t be until Saturday, September 10, so be sure to come out to the Urban Farm this Friday! 

In The Subway. In the 80’s.

The BBC has a great piece on photos from Brooklyn-based photographer Jamel Shabazz. His work in the 1980’s captures the world underground in the subway – finding fashion, joy and love in surprising images.

To watch the video see:

Patch.com Reports On Very, Very Bad Apartment Buildings

Patch.com’s Nick Garber and a colleague report on a number of buildings in Harlem that have so many issues and consequent fines that the city may simply take over the repairs and bill the landlord:

Here are the 24 Harlem buildings that were added to the Alternate Enforcement Program:

  • 504 West 142nd St.
  • 521 West 150th St.
  • 3341 Broadway
  • 1516 Amsterdam Ave.
  • 539 West 148th St.
  • 602 West 141st St. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 540 West 146th St.
  • 557 West 149th St.
  • 2035 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 1845 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
  • 203 West 144th St. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 2866 Frederick Douglass Blvd. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 226 West 116th St.
  • 60 St. Nicholas Ave. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 2022 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
  • 2890 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
  • 304 West 147th St. (also on Worst Landlord Watchlist)
  • 220 West 149th St.
  • 312 West 114th St.
  • 228 East 116th St.
  • 2093 Madison Ave.
  • 51 East 126th St.
  • 2411 Second Ave.
  • 79 East 125th St.

https://patch.com/new-york/harlem/24-harlem-buildings-named-most-distressed-nyc

Subways and Rubble

With the 2nd Avenue Subway getting (theoretically) closer and closer to becoming a reality for East Harlem, it’s interesting to ask where does all the soil and rock that used to take up the space the tracks, tunnels and trains now occupy.

First of all, it’s important to note that Donald Trump held back funding for the East Harlem portion of the 2nd Avenue Subway for the entirety of his term. It was only when President Joe Biden and the Democrats passed President Biden’s infrastructure bill that New York finally had/has the funds to begin the East Harlem portion of the subway.

This is interesting given that Trump himself benefitted from the earlier Upper East Side section of the 2nd Avenue subway. First of all, a number of his properties on the East Side benefitted from the increase in accessibility and thus the value of the property itself. But, more interestingly, the Trump golf course that was built on the Bronx side of the Whitestone Bridge was made from some of the rubble from the Upper East Side portion of the 2nd Avenue Subway.

All those ‘features’ you see on the golf course – an attempt to mimic the windswept rolling landscape of coastal Scottland – were built by piling load after load of rock that was quarried below 2nd Avenue.

But what about other subways in our community? What happened to that subway rock that was removed so the trains could travel underground?

East Harlem’s other lines – stressed and desperately in need of the 2nd Avenue Subway – the 4/5/6 were constructed under Lexington and the rock and rubble from that construction went into New York Harbor to extend Governors’ Island to the south. The large (mostly) parkland area, furthest away from Manhattan, was built from 4/5/6 subway excavation material.

Rubble was not just used for golf courses and island expansion, the gorgeous Manhattan schist that gives the historic City College of New York’s buildings their black, sparkling look, was also material from subway construction. The digging of the 1/2/3 lines brought tons and tons of Manhattan schist to the surface and City College used this material to create some of the most impressive neogothic buildings in New York City.

Mulchfest!

Mulchfest 2022 will run from today through January 9. New Yorkers will be able to drop off holiday trees at one of 74 sites—35 are chipping sites—across the five boroughs, including parks and GreenThumb gardens. The trees are then chipped and recycled, and the mulch is used to nourish city trees and plants in every corner of the city.

During the chipping weekend—January 8 & 9—residents can bring their tree to a chipping site and watch their tree being chipped, and bring a bag of nutrient-rich mulch home with them. Weather-permitting, DSNY will also collect and compost clean trees left at curbs from Thursday, January 6, 2022, to Saturday, January 15, 2022.

Mulchfest, part of the New York City holiday tradition, encourages New Yorkers to make greening a family activity—turning holiday trees into mulch which can be used for gardening and to increase soil fertility.

Bring your tree to Marcus Garvey Park and give your tree a starring role in helping the community gardens of New York.

Subway Stress

Every day that New Yorkers and visitors ride the subway, some of them review their experience. You may have done this, or can imagine doing this – reporting on cleanliness, complaining about a late train, noticing rats, etc.

A company called FleetLogging collated Google reviews of subway stations and used a social media analysis tool called TensiStrength to rank subway lines by the number of stressors and their severity.

Below are their top 10 most stressful lines with the Lex 4/5/6 line being the 6th most stressful:

And here is the full list:

Ballot Initiatives

On November 2nd you will be able to vote for 5 proposals:

Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Some great stonework on the outside of Ephesus Church – Lenox and West 124th Street.

And Underground…

A short distance north, and under the street, are these great mosaics:

Faith Ringgold is the artist behind these amazing works.

Ms. Ringgold took inspiration for the title of her mosaic from a Lionel Hampton song, Flying Home. First recorded by the Benny Goodman Sextet in 1939, the tune is based on one that Mr. Hampton hummed earlier. As a member of Mr. Goodman’s band, Mr. Hampton, along with the other band members, was waiting to board a flight from Los Angeles to Atlantic City to play an engagement. To calm his nerves, because he had never flew in an airplane, Mr. Hampton hummed a tune. When asked what it was by Mr. Goodman, Mr. Hampton said he did not know. The song was developed from those innocent beginnings. It would go on to become Mr. Hampton’s theme song.

Becoming Othello at The Harlem Rose Garden

Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 2PM

The Harlem Rose Garden is delighted to host a special event by the acclaimed Harlem actor/producer/director Debra Ann Byrd.  We will present a free special sneak peek preview of her solo show based on her life.  Attendees will also have the chance to purchase a limited amount of discount tickets to her upcoming performance in November at the United Solo Theater Festival at 42nd St. in November. 
“Becoming Othello:  A Black Girl’s Journey” was presented this summer at a sold-out show at Lincoln Center and received a standing ovation. Debra Ann is the founder and director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and Take Wing and Soar Productions a theater company presenting award-winning classical theater for actors of color.

Please see more details below along with some video links:

OFFICIAL SELECTION OF THE UNITED SOLO THEATRE FESTIVAL – NYC 2021Award-winning classical actress Debra Ann Byrd performed her one-woman show, BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl’s Journey, in Lenox, Massachusetts, this July and Lincoln Center Restart Stages in August. The autobiographical show is about the period in Byrd’s life from her tumultuous childhood in Harlem to her founding of a classical theater troupe after discovering a love for Shakespeare. Byrd incorporated hundreds of lines from the Bard’s own writing into the story. In the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout praises Byrd’s “limitless charisma” and compares the “riveting” show to Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight.

In addition to her current show, Byrd has played the lead in three all-female productions of OthelloShe will be performing

Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey at the United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC on November 4 at Theatre Row, produced by Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group for the Harlem Shakespeare Festival.

Protest the Treatment of Harlem

STOP GOVERNMENT SPONSORED CHILD ABUSE       Tell the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS) that is NOT OKAY to put over 20% of NYC’s drug treatment facilities in our community. 
OUR STREETS BELONG TO OUR CHILDREN.       Not drug dealers who prey on vulnerable substance abuse patients, shelter residents, and the street homeless.
JOIN OUR MARCH AND RALLY ON OCTOBER 8, 2021 FROM 3:30PM-5:30PM TO CELEBRATE CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH DAY
Ways to participate:    3:30pm – meet on the corner of 126th Street and Lenox to start the March.
Or
4pm –meet in front of 290 Lenox ave in recognition of substance abuse disorder victims. 
Or
4:30pm- rally in Marcus Garvey Park surrounding the baby playground to show solidarity with city, state, and law enforcement representatives who support our demand for equitable distribution of treatment facilities throughout NYC.
Sponsored by The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA) in collaboration with the Greater Harlem Coalition, the 125th street Business Improvement District,  and The Nation of Islam. 

Vote!

Enslaved Africans in Dutch Harlem

Last year a number of major museums in The Netherlands began to cease using the term “Golden Age” to describe the 17th-century Dutch empire that included New Amsterdam, and the village that became Harlem. In particular, Dutch society has begun to wrestle with fact that much of the power and wealth centered in Holland during the 17th century was based on the transatlantic slave trade:

“The Western Golden Age occupies an important place in Western historiography that is strongly linked to national pride, but positive associations with the term such as prosperity, peace, opulence, and innocence do not cover the charge of historical reality in this period,” van der Molen explained. “The term ignores the many negative sides of the 17th century such as poverty, war, forced labor, and human trafficking.”

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/amsterdam-museum-will-no-longer-use-term-dutch-golden-age-180973140/

In the spring of 1664, for example, the landowners in Harlem travelled to New Amsterdam (the lower tip of Manhattan) to participate in a slave auction. James Riker, in 1904, notes:

The opening spring brought its share of work for the farmers. A shelter was needed for the young calves turned out to feed on Barent’s Island, and at a meeting held March 13th it was agreed to build on April ist. They also resolved to fence the gardens. Some of the inhabitants, in want of servants and laborers, seized the opportunity to buy a number of negro slaves, sold at auction in Fort Amsterdam, May 29th, by order of the Director and Council. They had arrived on the 24th instant, in the company’s ship Sparrow, from Chicago. At that sale were eager bidders, Johannes Verveelen, Daniel Tourneur, Nicholas De Meyer, Jacques Cousseau, Isaac De Forest, and even Jacob Leisler, himself, in 1678, enslaved by the Turks, and years later the champion of liberty! Verveelen bought a negro at 445 a., De Meyer one at 460 fl., and Tourneur another at 465 fl. These were probably the first slaves owned at New Harlem, and, strange as it may seem, the recollections of the living run back to the time when negro slavery still existed here.

https://archive.org/stream/revisedhistoryof01rike/revisedhistoryof01rike_djvu.txt

For more on the Dutch role in the transatlantic slave trade see:

https://lab.nos.nl/projects/slavernij/index-english.html

To see a visualization of the transatlantic slave trade, see:

https://slavevoyages.org/voyage/database#timelapse

To see a visualization of a transatlantic slave ship, see:

https://slavevoyages.org/voyage/ship#slave-

More on The History of Slavery in New York City

This article from Untapped Cities talks extensively about other New Yorkers who are deeply intertwined with New York City history and our history of slavery.

https://untappedcities.com/2020/10/22/new-york-city-slavery-history/

Realtime MTA Subway Data

If you ever wanted to know when the next train was coming, the new MTA map of the subway is for you.

Simply click on a station, and the map gives you ‘next train’ information. Below I clicked on the Lenox – 125th Street 2/3 station:

To test it out, use this link:

https://map.mta.info/