125th Street BID and Columbia University to Look at a Digital Rethink of West 125th Street

125th Street BID’s Partnership with Columbia UniversityWins $26M NSF Grant to Develop Center for Smart Streetscapes
New York, NY—August 10, 2022—The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it is awarding a $26 million, five-year grant to a team led by Columbia Engineering, together with Florida Atlantic University, Rutgers University, University of Central Florida, and Lehman College, for a new Gen-4 NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Smart Streetscapes(CS3). 
“The most exciting thing about this project is the community involvement at the early-on stage, when we’re planning out what Harlem should have as it relates to technology,” said Barbara Askins, President and CEO, 125th Street Business Improvement District. “For the businesses, the arts and culture, the community organizations, the universities, the office tenants, you name it, this project brings all of that together in a way that will take us into the future through technology.”
This win represents a giant step forward for 125th Street and the Harlem Community. We now have a great go to place to develop solutions for numerous monumental problems that we have been struggling with for decades in our streetscape.

CS3 develops hyper-local real-time, interactive, high-precision applications on the streetscape to improve the quality of life by advancing livable, safe, and healthy communities. 

CS3 will explore new technological innovations determined by community engagement that reflect their needs within the initial context of these five applied themes:
Mobility(Pedestrian, cyclists, vehicles and autonomous systems, trash collection)
Ethical security in public spaces(Retail, urban planning-parks)
Assistive technologies for people with disabilities(Street crossing, real time assistance wayfinding
Future outdoor work(Emergency response, sidewalk logistics for deliveries, impacts of construction)
Hyper-local environmental monitoring(Street flooding, infection modeling, drones)

Landmark East Harlem is Awarded $12,000 for an East Harlem Historic Survey

Landmark East Harlem has been awarded a $12K grant from the Preservation League of New York State – their fiscal sponsor and coalition member, Ascendant Neighborhood Development, received the grant to fund a reconnaissance level survey of historic resources in the northern portion of East Harlem.

This project will complete their comprehensive historic/cultural resources surveying for all of East Harlem.

Read the Press Release

East-Central Harlem survey area (Purple); East Harlem Historic District (Teal); East Harlem South/El Barrio survey area (red)
The final EH historic survey (blue) will complete LEH’s reconnaissance for all East Harlem properties.

Harlem Creek

Before the building boom in the 2nd half of the 19th century, what we call Central Harlem was farmland where people raised cash crops to sell 7 miles south in New York City. It was sleepy, undeveloped and could easily pass for rural New England today:

This 1870 photo is looking northwest from what’s left of the Haerlem Creek around 121st or 122nd Street towards Manhattanville

West 125th Street in the background (the buildings you see are fronting West 125th Street).

The small church on the left is St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church and still stands at Morningside and West 125th Street.

The handful of buildings on the right are where 43 years later the Apollo Theater would be built.

Harlem Creek originated at a spring on West 120th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. From there, it flowed downhill, south and eastward, from Morningside Heights onto the Harlem plain.

At 117th Street, Harlem Creek (dark green on the image, above) turned sharply to the south, merging with Montayne’s Rivulet at 109th Street and then turning east, widening into a salt marsh that empties into the Harlem River (more or less at 107th Street).

On the map below, the dark, wiggly line in the bottom left corner is the Harlem Creek just before it was directed into the sewer system, paved over, and forgotten.

A Vintage Button

A vintage button seen on Ebay:


Community Board 11

Meeting Schedule: Week of April 11, 2022
Human Services Committee MeetingMonday • April 11th • 6:00pm
In order to attend this meeting, please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Monthly COVID -19 virus updates/testing NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)NYC Health +Hospitals (Metropolitan)Informational discussion re: the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget for FY23 Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala – NYC CouncilInformational update re: Exodus Transitional Community relocation from 2271 3rd Avenue to 2277 3rd Avenue
Youth & Education Committee MeetingTuesday • April 12th • 6:30pm
In order to attend this meeting, please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Information presentation: East Harlem Task Force on Racial Inclusion & EquityTiffany McFadden, Human Services Consortium of East HarlemInformational presentation re: iMentoriMentor is an education non-profit and youth mentoring program working to empower first-generation college students to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions through one-on-one mentorships.Request for letter of support for request for federal earmark to support a learning and creative hubSofia Rosario, Centro (The Center for Puerto Rican Studies) at Hunter CollegeMunicipal Budget Process Timeline Update
Land Use, Landmarks & Planning Committee MeetingWednesday • April 13th • 6:00pm
In order to attend this meeting, please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Update on planned 125th Street Bus Depot/Harlem Burial Ground Memorial project Fernando Ortiz, NYC EDC Report Card on impact of Mayor DeBlasio’s Housing New York plan in East HarlemGeorge Janes. CB11 Land Use ConsultantCommittee discussion on the 421a Property Tax Exemption
Economic Development & Culture Committee MeetingThursday • April 14th • 6:30pm
In order to attend this meeting, please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Update re: Open Restaurants Program judgment George Janes, CB11 Land Use Consultant Update from Assembly Member Inez Dickens’ office re: bill to limit the number of social services in one areaJuneteenth Freedom Fest NYC Partnership RequestStreet Cleaning Funding Request, City Cleanup CorpsCarey King, Uptown Grand CentralCommittee discussion on Mayor’s Blueprint for New York City’s Economic RecoveryQuality of life concerns related to economic development
Executive Committee MeetingThursday • April 15th • 6:30pm
In order to attend this meeting, please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Ratification of Street Co-Naming Request for “Hiram Maristany Way”. Southeast corner of 111th Street and Madison Avenue
Presentation of Street Co-Naming Request in honor of Carmen Maristany Ward. Southwest corner of 111th Street and Park Avenue
Committee discussion on changes made to NYS Open Meetings Law as part of the FY23 NYS Budget
Committee discussion on process to onboard new members
Committee discussion on board member attendance

The Spirit of Harlem

A 2005 mosaic that was on the North Fork Bank on West 125th Street was restored a couple of years ago after pubic outcry that it might be destroyed/hidden from view.

You can see the mural on the north-west corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd.

Become a Peer Advocate or Recovery Coach

Here is an amazing opportunity if you are a resident of CB9. You can attend the Recovery Coach Academy (a virtual workshop) tuition-free:

For more information contact:

(917) 576-1949
[email protected]

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of the Corn Exchange Building

Ephemeral New York has a great article out on how the Corn Exchange building (Park/125) – formerly the Mount Morris Bank – has looked in photos over the years.

The Harlem Bank building (built in 1884, and now with Ginjan Cafe on the ground floor), was and is perfectly located for easy access to upstate and Connecticut (using Metro-North) and downtown Manhattan (again using Metro-North, or the 2/3/4/5/6 trains).

The original building was an eclectic, rusticated Romanesque building with brownstone, brick, copper, terracotta, and slate:

When the neighborhood was built out further (note the Lee Building on the other side of the Metro-North tracks), the Corn Exchange building didn’t look much different other than the addition of some exterior blinds on the upper floors (pre-air-conditioning, when exterior blinds were the main way to keep heat out with windows still open)

Note that the upper floors of the building were residential when it was built. Those bay windows, were for apartments, not for offices. Conversion to a purely commercial building came later, around the turn of the century.

In the 1980s (as the tax photo below indicates) the building was abandoned. Note the smashed windows and boarded up exterior.

Finally, by 2011 and after a fire, and precautionary demolition by the city, there was virtually nothing left other than a bricked-up, one-and-a-half-story shell.

And now, renovated, the Corn Exchange building sits unoccupied, other than Ginjan on the ground floor.

Further West…

56 West 125th Street recently sold for $105 million. The new construction has 141 rental units and retail at street level.

The retail portion is fully leased and the apartments — 46 of which are income-restricted — are in the process of being leased up.