East Harlem + Flooding

The https://welikia.org/ project to visualize the New York area before European explorers and colonists arrives is an incredible resource for anyone curious about the landscape of pre-contact New York.

Welika allows you to see how much more ‘pointed’ the lower tip of Manhattan was – jutting out into New York harbor – and how there were marshes, streams, ponds, and other water features in areas that are now part of Chinatown and the financial district.

Further north, in our neighborhood, you can see how Randall’s and Wards Island stood out, and were separated.

there is even an inlet or stream, paralleling East 108th Street to what is now the Harlem Meer in Central Park and then up (north) to the west of Marcus Garvey Park, and then over to 126/FDB.

In a zoomed-in view, the two hills in the yellowish marshland at the top of the screenshot are Big and Little Snake Hills. Big Snake Hill became Mount Morris. The smaller hill to the east (near Park/122) was leveled

All of this is to note that most of East Harlem is built on former marshlands or infill rubble. If you go to Lexington and 108th Street, for example, you can clearly see the depression that marks the former watercourse that essentially followed East 108th Street from the East River to Central Park.

The City has a great story on how a million-dollar report on the risk of flooding in East Harlem has not been released publicly: https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/1/25/22245050/de-blasios-1-million-flood-plan-shelved-and-hidden-from-high-risk-east-harlem. Indeed, a FOIL request for the report, resulted in a CIA level of redaction. It’s hard to believe that this amount of text on the topic of flood control needs to be hidden from residents:

But the De Blasio administration is afraid that something in there, beneath the blackouts, is somehow dangerous and something the public should not see.



Senator Brian Benjamin

Senator Brian Benjamin at work in Albany:

Tell NYC What You Think the Budget Priorities for CB11 Should Be

CB11 is collecting your opinions on what the city should budget for our community. Here is a quick Google Form for you to fill out. HNBA has already submitted a larger statement, but you can offer your own thoughts/ideas below:


How Old is Harlem, Anyway?

From the beginning we need to acknowledge that the idea of Harlem being ‘established’ is a Eurocentric and colonial concept that has been repeatedly used to overwrite the histories of indigenous Americans. And, for the Lenape people who inhabited Manahatta for centuries before Henry Hudson passed by searching for a route to the orient, the area we call Harlem was a seasonal hunting and fishing ground.

On this Welikia Project screenshot, you can see our part of Manhattan as it was in 1609 before the direct contact with Europeans:

And in more detail, here is Marcus Garvey Park – a treed hill with flatlands nearby:

It was, in fact, those grassy areas where Harlem is now centered, that attracted the Dutch settlers – there was less forest clearance necessary to plant crops. Indeed a number of farms were established in Harlem during the early years of Dutch colonial rule and then abandoned after hostilities with the Lenape and other First People. Eventually, in 1658, Peter Stuyvesant

at the session of the director-general and council held at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland, the 4th of March 1658, established ‘Nieuwe Haarlem‘.

NYPD Crime Response Time Still Lags Three Months Post-Protest

The City reports that:

NYPD response times to incidents remain snagged three months after protests against police spurred long delays — while other emergency responders are getting to the scene faster than before the coronavirus took hold.

That’s the conclusion of THE CITY’s comparison of medical, fire and police response times so far in 2020, a year defined by sudden and intense demands on those rushing to incidents.

Starting in late March and running through mid-May, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a jump in ambulance calls. Then anti-racism protests that peaked in mid June put the Police Department to the test.

Data from the 911 call system shows that the delays have affected every type of NYPD call, including what police call “critical crime in progress” — encompassing armed violent incidents, robberies and burglaries.

Responses to those incidents — measured from the first call to the arrival of the first unit — took an average of 8 minutes and 5 seconds in the last four weeks of August 2020, compared with 6 minutes and 49 seconds during the same period a year earlier.

For more, see: https://www.thecity.nyc/2020/9/14/21437309/nypd-crime-response-time-still-lags-three-months-post-protest