The Last Fireplaces

On Earth Day in 2014, as part of a clean-air initiative, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that as of July 1, 2014 the construction of new wood-burning fireplaces would be banned in New York City.

Under the new regulations, residents who already have wood-burning fireplaces or who have reconstructed their fireplaces prior to that date, would be allowed to use them, but with the requirement that they only use firewood that has a low amount of moisture (20 percent or less), which are less smoky when burned, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Although considered by most to be a low-cost method of heating a room, traditional, open-masonry fireplaces create the reverse effect on the rest of your home. While burning, these fireplaces can exhaust as much as 300 cubic feet of heated indoor air to outside your home per minute, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s 18,000 cubic feet of heated air lost each hour through your fireplace’s chimney. As the warm air travels up your chimney, cold air from windows, doors, and other parts of your home are drawn to the fireplace. The room may stay warm, but the rest of your home is actually getting cooler.

Older Harlem brownstones and tenements often still have fireplaces from the 19th or 20th century, but they may no longer vent up/out, or may improperly vent up/out (in any case, never light a fire in a fireplace that hasn’t been inspected and approved by a chimney sweep). Newer, 21st century Harlem buildings may still have fireplaces if they were built before 2014. The distinctive chimneys on these buildings (all condos – no landlord wants the risk or the added cost of insurance if a fireplace was in a rental) pictured here show a few (dwindling) examples of working fireplaces in our community.

Ghost Farmers’ Market

When patronizing Sister’s Restaurant for their amazing roti recently I noticed a sign for a Farmers’ Market that doesn’t exist.

After checking with Carey King from Uptown Grand Central, she was just as baffled but speculated that it could have been from an aborted farmers’ market sponsored by the adjacent Ralph Lauren health center. If you have any insight, please share.

Public Hearing for the Proposed Florence Mills Plaza

Savona Bailey-McClain from the West Harlem Art Fund notes that the public hearing for the proposed Florence Mills Plaza will be held on Wednesday, February 2nd at the CB9 Parks meeting at 6:30 pm.

This is your chance to support naming a plaza in St. Nicholas park after the legendary entertainer.

Thoughts or comments on this post?