Harlem and The Bronx

This image from the 1930’s from a high vantage point (likely from the towering 555 Edgecombe Avenue), shows Harlem in the foreground and The Bronx in the background.

What is now Jackie Robinson Park is immediately below (in the foreground) and you can see the distinctive kiosk shown in another 1930’s photo and from Google Streetview:

Note how the 1930s streetscape north of 152nd Street (up to 153rd Street) is fully intact. It also appears as if the vacant lot on the south-east corner of the block has been vacant for almost 100 years.

Harlem’s Poet Laureate

CBS has the story from Governor Hochul’s inauguration on how a 9-year-old from Harlem came to be her poet laureate:

“I was outside the Apollo Theater, it was Amateur Night,” Hochul recalled at the beginning of her speech Sunday. “And there’s a long line around the block, and I saw this young man standing there. I said, ‘You’re going in to watch somebody?’ He goes, ‘No, I’m a poet. I’m going to go recite.'”
“I was excited,” Hern remembered feeling. “Yeah, because at the Apollo, I just wanted to take a picture with her. And then she asked me, what do I do? And I said, I draw. I also write poems.”
Hern did not throw away his shot, performing his way straight to the top.
“I figured he’d whip out a piece of paper and read it to me,” Hochul continued. “He had memorized it … I stood there on the spot and I said, ‘If I win this election, you are my Poet Laureate and I want you here.'”


Viaduct, 155th Street, Harlem Bridge

The view of this photo (looking back and up to Harlem – if you were headed to the Bronx you’d be traveling to the right and down) shows a recently competed 155th Street Bridge that now goes from Harlem over to the Bronx near Yankee Stadium.

Note how isolated many of the buildings on the horizon seem to be. They’re built with no neighbors, just fields. The close-up (below shows the horizon in more detail):

The city developed by leap-frogging, not by a continuous wave of building.

You might be able to recognize this building, also in the distance:

The flag is in front of the Morris-Jumel Mansion – sitting proudly by itself on a hill overlooking the Bronx.

Zero Vehicle Households

Zero-vehicle households are concentrated in Manhattan and southern parts of the Bronx. Outer borough households generally have more vehicles, a function of land use and density, non-vehicle transportation options, and income.

The number of household vehicle registrations increased by 8.7% between 2010 and 2020, resulting in a very slight increase in the ratio of vehicle registrations to the total number of New Yorkers — from 0.215 to 0.218. While this continues the City’s car-light growth pattern, it contrasts with its previous period of growth (between 1990 and 2000), when per capita car ownership declined as the population increased. More cars in a city with finite street space will increase congestion as well as posing a challenge to the City’s climate and Vision Zero goals.

The New Willis Avenue Bridge

This image, from Scientific American in 1901, shows a beautiful, curved swing bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx.

The rusticated stonework, the turrets, and fence details all work to suggest a presence and solidity.


Harlem Barbie on Ebay:

Ethics Concerns Regarding State Senator Benjamin

The Daily News has a report out on State Senator Brian Benjamin’s questionable expensing and financial dealings, including:

  • using Senate campaign money to pay for “constituent services” at a Harlem jazz club
  • sitting on the board of a company led by a shady Wall Street executive — a job he stepped down from after it was reported in the Daily News
  • returning more than a dozen contributions after people listed as donors claimed they never gave to him
  • spending more than $3,000 for Delta airlines to send volunteers to Georgia to campaign for Stacey Abrams
  • spending more than $1,200 at a Norfolk, Va., auto body shop
  • spending $1,000 at a Shell gas station in Providence, R.I. (Senator Benjamin is a trustee at the Corporation of Brown University but it’s not entirely clear how travel to Providence is connected to his campaign or his work as a state senator

In the article, David Grandeau, a well-known ethics consultant and the former head of the New York State Lobbying Commission, notes that such activities often serve as a bellwether for corruption down the road.

“When you abuse your campaign account, that is a gateway drug to further political corruption,” he said.

Rachael Fauss, a senior research analyst at the good government group Reinvent Albany, suggested that Benjamin’s pattern of spending warrants further scrutiny.

To read more and the Senator’s responses, see:


And Just Over the Border…


Ephemeral New York ephemeralnewyork recently had a great article on the Dutch origins of the New York stoop:

New Yorkers can thank the Dutch settlers of the 17th century for the stoop arguably the city’s most iconic and beloved architectural feature. 

Houses in Holland were built with a front stoep to keep parlor floors from flooding. When the early inhabitants of New Amsterdam built their dwellings, they kept the stoop—though they probably weren’t the grand and ornate staircases built two centuries later. The stoop could have gone the way of wood-frame houses and corner tea water pumps in the developing metropolis. But stoops served another purpose after the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811—aka, the city street grid—went into effect. The grid plan didn’t leave any space for alleys. Without a back door to a rowhouse accessed through an alley, servants and workers would enter and exit a residence using the same front stoop the owners used—which wasn’t too popular, at least with the owners. But a tall stoop set back from the sidewalk allowed for a side door that led to the lower level of the house. While the owners continued to go up and down the stoop to get to the parlor floor (and see and be seen by their neighbors), everyone else was relegated to the side, according to Street Design: The Secrets to Great Cities and Towns.

And of course, as New York entered the Gilded Age of busy streets filled with dust, ash, refuse, and enormous piles of horse manure, a very high stoop helped keep all the filth from getting into the house.

As architectural styles changed, the New York City stoop changed as well. The short stoops on Federal Style houses from the early 19th century fell out of favor as brownstones, with their high, straight, ornate stoops—took over the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In the late 19th century, with brownstones derided for their cookie-cutter design (and chocolate sludge appearance), Romanesque Revival styles gained favor. Architects created playful takeoffs of the typical stoop. The “dog-leg” stoop, which turns to the left or right halfway down the steps, was popular on the Upper West Side and in parts of Brooklyn.

By the beginning of the 20th century, stoops were getting lopped off altogether in favor of a lower-level entrance requiring just a few steps up or down. A stoop was seen as old-fashioned, for starters. Also, it was easier for a landlord to carve up a brownstone into separate apartments without one, according to Andrew S. Dolkart, the director of the historic preservation program at Columbia University, via a 2012 New York Times articleStoops are back in style again, the Times article says. And why wouldn’t they be? Elegant or functional, original or rebuilt (as the stoop above probably was), with ironwork on the railings or without, stoops are the front seats in a neighborhood—sharable space where people gather, kids play, and communities grow. They’re symbols of New York, past and present.

Madison Avenue Bridge

The Madison Avenue Bridge that links Harlem to The Bronx, was built in 1910. This span which is in use today – 101 years later – replaced an earlier bridge from 1884. At the time, the pedestrian paths were 9′ wide (they are much narrower, today) and there were trolly tracks for streetcar travel both to and from The Bronx.

For the full New York Time article, see:

A Call for LegislationThe Bronx is Building

The Greater Harlem Coalition has recently written to our elected officials to ask them to begin the work of enacting legislation that will stop and then reverse the oversaturation of drug treatment programs in our community:

The Bronx is Building

A new rental building has been proposed for the Bronx waterfront between the Madison Avenue Bridge and the 145th Street Bridge. This new 43 story tower will be located between the Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River.

For more on this project, see: