Metro-North Track Rebuild

The Metro-North tracks from East 115th Street up to East 122nd Street will be replaced over the next couple of years.

Starting this summer, the contractor will be building the new concrete supports under the existing tracks, getting them ready. This process of building the new concrete supports will take about a year, and only in Spring 2024 will they begin to replace the actual tracks.

The plan will be to replace all the tracks on the eastern side first, then to do all the tracks on the west side.

Sidewalks will always remain open, but parking will be impacted and eliminated during the construction and road closures will be ongoing.

This will be a massive undertaking and critically necessary to replace a 130-year-old faltering raised train structure. In the end, we’ll have a solid, safe, and quieter MTA line above Park Avenue.

As Seen In Harlem

On Malcolm X Blvd.

Urban Garden Center’s Storage Area

If you recall the fire under the Metro North tracks at 118th Street a few years back, the fire was the result of material that the Urban Garden Center had been storing under the tracks, between 117 and 118th Streets. This photo shows the storage of everything from concrete block, to pallets, to soil, to machinery:

With the forthcoming rebuild of the MTA tracks, all the material has been moved south between 111 and 113th Streets. The space between 117 and 118 is now empty:

The Studio Museum Progresses

After several women came forward with allegations that Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates – the architect behind the new Studio Museum in Harlem – was a serial sexual harrasser, construction has resumed. Adjaye was removed as The Studio Museum of Harlem’s architect of record, and Cooper Robertson & Partners are now serving in that role.

The 125th Street, 82,000-square-foot structure will feature expanded gallery and exhibition space for more than 2,000 objects, multiple lecture halls, a roof deck, a café, and retail space when completed. Construction lulled in 2022, but work has resumed and a 2024 opening has been floated, if optimistic.

Open Streets – August 18th

Metro North Viaduct Replacement Update

The team is working to minimize impacts to the community and on Metro-North Railroad schedules. Over the next several months, mobilization and some site activity will occur for Phase 1 of the PAV project. Then, beginning this summer, we expect to begin work underneath the Viaduct, constructing new footings and columns (substructure work). In coordination with the NYC Department of Transportation, there will be temporary removal of parking lanes in 2-block increments alongside the Viaduct on a rolling basis. As soon as work in each segment concludes, those parking lanes will be reopened, and work will move onto the next segment. Sidewalks will remain open, and emergency access will be maintained. We’ll share more information as we get closer to this work in the summer, including in our next newsletter and through pre-construction community notifications.

We’ll share additional details on some of the work planned for 2024 later in the year. You can find details from our recent presentation to Manhattan Community Board 11 on the project website here, as well as an overview of the project timeline, below.

Neighbors Under the Viaduct: Urban Garden Center, La Placita, and Parking Lots
We know La Placita, the Urban Garden Center (UGC), and parking lots are important to the East Harlem community. Given their locations under the Viaduct, the contractor, MTA, City, and stakeholders are working closely together to minimize impacts on the operations of all facilities.

UGC’s retail operations will be temporarily relocated 5 blocks south (under the Viaduct, between East 111th and East 112th Streets) for the duration of the project.

We’re pleased to report that we have been successful in significantly reducing the length of impact on La Placita. La Placita operations will not need to be relocated until the second quarter of 2024, and we expect to have events back to their current home in late 2025, with fully restored aesthetics and functionality. We’ll continue to coordinate with the City and Friends of La Marquetta, including identifying a temporary site for La Placita operations during the relocation period.

Some of the other parking facilities located under the Viaduct will also require relocation at various points in the project. Alternate locations for parking operations will be provided for each of these temporary relocations.

Art & Design Update
This project will include a permanent art installation at East 116th Street, as you may remember from our emails about the open call for artists earlier this year. The artist will be selected by a professional panel with input from Community Board members and local elected officials. The unique characteristics and diversity of the East Harlem community will be part of proposal review. We look forward to sharing updates on this as the project progresses.

Good Neighbor Initiative
Being a good neighbor to the community is important to the MTA, and part of that is ensuring our project and contractor are accountable and responsive to community feedback. We’re pleased to announce that the PAV project will include a Good Neighbor Initiative. This initiative will grade the contractor on factors like environment and livability, site upkeep, cleanliness, and housekeeping factors. Those grades will then be tied to financial incentives.

Once construction is fully underway, we’ll share a public quarterly report card showing how the contractor is doing, and ways in which the Good Neighbor Initiative is helping improve the project. As part of this effort, we will distribute regular surveys to members of our stakeholder advisory group. Additionally, members of the public can always submit feedback on worksite conditions through our project email or hotline.

Construction Community Liaison
In February, Allan S. Valerio joined the team as the project’s Construction Community Liaison. Allan will be the point person on day-to-day construction questions, concerns, and feedback. You can reach Allan at (347) 422-7780 or [email protected]. Allan is Spanish/English bilingual, and he will become a familiar face in the neighborhood as he conducts community outreach, educational programming, and addresses your feedback on the project.

FBI Alert for Seniors

The FBI’s Summary of Elder Fraud Report: 

In 2022, the total number of complaints received from victims over the age of 60 was 88,262.  The monetary losses to elderly victims has risen at an alarming rate, losses of $3.1 billion were reported in 2022, which is a 84% increase over 2021.  The average loss per victim was $35,101, with 5,456 victims losing more than $100,000.

Call Center Fraud (Tech and Customer Support schemes), continued to be the most common type of fraud reported by seniors, with over 17,800 complaints and over $587 million in losses.   Monetary losses due to Investment Fraud reported by seniors increased over 300%, more than any other kind of fraud, largely due to the rising trend of crypto investment scams.

To educate the public and provide as much information on the types of frauds targeting seniors as possible, the IC3 has released its publication of the 2022 IC3 Elder Fraud Annual Report. This report is a companion report to the 2022 IC3 Annual Report released earlier this year.  This report focus’ on crime types, state statistics, and common frauds affecting over 60 victims reporting to IC3. 

Also, in the last couple weeks released some other alerts that may be of interest. They are:

IC3 Warns Chinese Community: IC3 published a public service announcement yesterday to warn about a scam targeting the Chinese community in the U.S. Criminals posing as Chinese law enforcement or prosecutors are telling potential victims that they are suspects in financial crimes. Victims are told to pay the criminals or face arrest or violence. The PSA offers tips for recognizing and avoiding the scheme. 

Link to PSA: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Criminals Pose as Chinese Authorities to Target US-based Chinese Community 

Sextortion Victim Scam: IC3 also published a PSA last Friday warning the public about for-profit companies that are offering sextortion victims “assistance” services. While law enforcement and non-profit agencies will provide assistance at no charge to victims, these companies charge victims exorbitant fees. The PSA includes examples of deceptive tactics, provides tips for avoiding assistance scams, and explains how to file sextortion complaints with IC3. 

Link to PSA: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | For-Profit Companies Charging Sextortion Victims for Assistance and Using Deceptive Tactics to Elicit Payments  

You can find the release here:

There’s also a brochure you can download here:

115 to 123

Metro North is going to be completely replacing the elevated tracks between 115th Street and 123rd Street, starting in about 9 months or a year. However, not only are they going to do this massive task, but they’ll do it while the tracks are in use.

The engineering behind this is all predicated on closing off parts of Park Avenue and side streets and using a massive gantry system to hoist sections of track into place, once new supporting pillars are ready.

The replacement of this section of the elevated track is urgently needed to replace a 130+ year old structure that has far outlasted expectations.

Sugar Hill Arts Festival – Tomorrow!

Click here to learn more:

NY Post Raises Councilmember Jordan’s Council Attendance Record

The NY Post notes that Councilmember Jordan has missed 46 percent of her council committee and caucus meetings since last year, records show.

She’s been recorded absent 53 times and present 61 times with one entry listed as “conflict” since taking office in January of 2022.

“I wish she would be more active on the committee and the council,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), who chairs the veterans committee.

This year alone, she’s missed five meetings of the Aging Committee she serves on, four Youth Services and Sanitation Committee meetings, two Veterans Affairs Committee meetings and two full Council Committee meetings.

The councilwoman also skipped two meetings of the committees on Civil and Human Rights and Women and Gender Equity.

Richardson Jordan, 36, also was recorded as absent from the Council’s Manhattan delegation meeting on April 27. 

126th Street and Lenox Ave

Looking eastward, from Lenox Avenue along West 126th Street.

And the same view, from 1904, showing a special riveted rectangular water pipe, over the roof of the subway.

And Further West…

The Riverside Drive Viaduct at 125th Street (photographer Berenice Abbott) ~1937

Wheelie Life

If you’ve ever seen a wave of young people doing wheelies down a Harlem street on bicycles, this documentary explores the culture, the comradery, and the thrills inherent in this urban subculture.

Featuring a number of shots and interviews under the Harlem Viaduct (125th Street and the Harlem River), the documentary follows the athleticism and passion of the young men and women who find freedom on one wheel.

Philadelphia Artist Walks From Harlem to Canada

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an article on Ken Johnston, the Philadelphia “walking artist” who set out from Harlem, N.Y., in July, walked across the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, Ontario to honor and follow the route of American hero, Harriet Tubman.

Johnston reached St. Catharines, Ontario, the city where Harriet Tubman, perhaps America’s most famous Underground Railroad leader, lived between 1851 and 1861, before the start of the Civil War in early September

Johnston, 61, of Cobbs Creek in Philadelphia, ended his approximately 450-mile walk at Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church, where Tubman once worshiped.

Johnston said he was both excited to have arrived in Tubman’s former (Canadian) city — and exhausted.

Read the full article, here:

Free Concert in Harlem Rose Garden, Saturday

Redlining and Affordable Housing

Decades of disinvestment, planned neglect, and overtly biased policies followed the devastation caused by redlining. The 1938 map below of northern Manhattan shows how our community was redlined:

The on-the-ground consequence of both redlining and its aftermath is seen in short film, shot from a car in the 1980’s. It has taken decades of public and private investment to bring Harlem back from this abyss even if there is still more work to be done.

To view the film as the camera person goes across 128th Street West(?) and then turns south on St. Nicholas and Frederick Douglass Blvd. see:

Metro-North Viaduct Replacement

The Park Avenue Viaduct — a.k.a. the dark brown elevated tracks that carry Metro-North trains north of Grand Central — was built in 1893 and is in need of an upgrade.

After 129 years of operation, the tracks have started to show signs of stress,
 so the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is making plans to replace sections between 115th-123rd and 128th-131st streets along Park Avenue.

Learn more about the project, here:

The Train Used to Stop at 110th Street

Above is a rendering of the 110th Street station in 1876 on what became the Metro-North line on Park Avenue. Note that above 110th street the train line was not on an iron el platform, and instead was on a solid masonry platform.

You can see spacious upper Manhattan farmland, a few brownstones (long since gone and replaced by projects), the tunnel at 98th Street, and horse and buggies.

The 110th Street station opened in 1876 and Harlem residents could catch up to sixteen trains a day that ran between Grand Central and William’s Bridge.

By 1896-1897 as the line’s grade was raised onto iron girders north of 111th Street and the new viaduct and the new 110th Street station opened in February 1897. However, by 1906, the New York Central Railway discontinued service at the 110th Street station.

The 110th Street station (as seen above) was partially built within the viaduct. The station’s waiting room was built into the northern side of the bridge over 110th Street and was located at street level.

From the waiting room, two staircases went up along the side of the viaduct’s retaining walls–one per side–to the side platforms atop the viaduct.

The stairways to the street still exist and are used in case of emergencies.

Letter Sent to CB11 to Support Converting Shelters in CB11 to Supportive Housing