East Harlem eyes brand new zone

New zoning could transform Park Ave., which looks much the same now as it…

New zoning could transform Park Ave., which looks much the same now as it…

Park Ave. in East Harlem is an industrial streetscape best known for vacant lots, fenced-off parking and stalking spots for muggers — but that could change if the city revamps the local zoning, community officials say.

Bold new zoning would lure new residential and commercial development to the darkened, desolate 17-block strip — and create a thriving neighborhood hub in the area between E. 115th and E. 132nd Sts., advocates argue.

A big chunk of the corridor under the elevated Metro-North tracks is now zoned for manufacturing and auto uses. It’s no surprise, then, that the area is dotted with auto-body shops, gas stations, tire repair yards, parking lots, U-Haul rentals and masonry, ironworking, woodworking, fencing and hoisting-and-rigging companies.

There’s a need for many of those services. But Community Board 11, which represents East Harlem, and CIVITAS, an East Side citizens action group, are exploring zoning scenarios that could tempt developers to build housing and retail on some of those low-lying lots and empty parcels.

In addition to Park Ave., CB 11 and CIVITAS are mulling other zoning changes in a 449-lot area between Lexington and Madison Aves. They expect to submit proposals to the City Planning Commission, which must sign off on all city zoning changes, by early 2013.

One proposal would create a special mixed-use zone that would permit a healthy combination of residential, commercial and light industrial activity in an area now zoned largely for auto services and manufacturing. Continue reading


East Harlem – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, iPod

Sizzling hot Latino people, music, culture and cuisine

The East Harlem community stretches for 2.2 square miles from FDR Drive to Fifth Avenue between East 96th to East 142nd Streets. Also included in East Harlem are Randall’s and Ward’s Islands in the East River, opposite the stretch from 103rd to 125th Streets that is accessible by the RFK Bridge (Triborough Bridge) and a foot bridge at 103rd Street. Known as El Barrio (“the neighborhood”) or Spanish Harlem, this historically working-class area is home to one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. The area was formerly known as Italian Harlem and still harbors a small Italian American population along Pleasant Avenue. However, since the 1950s it has been dominated by residents of Puerto Rican descent, sometimes called Nuyoricans. Puerto Rican immigration after the First World War established an enclave at the western portion of Italian Harlem (around 110th Street and Lexington Avenue). The area slowly grew to encompass all of Italian Harlem as they moved out and Hispanics moved in during another wave of immigration after the Second World War. Many more African Americans also moved to East Harlem after World War II, and have remained. Other area residents are made up of a diverse tapestry of ethnic groups including Latinos from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Central and South America, Blacks and Africans from the Caribbean and West Africa, Turks from Eastern Europe, and Chinese.

As early as 1938 and then after World War II, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) razed buildings in neighborhoods, block by block, to make way for twenty-four high-rise public housing projects. The neighborhood contains the highest geographical concentration of low-income public housing projects in the United States, approximately 1.5 square miles. Many residents felt that whatever the inadequacy of their housing, they could not stand by and watch the wholesale demolition of homes and neighborhoods. They were joined by others who, ineligible for public housing, were faced with the threat of homelessness. Together, they organized protests and blocked additional destruction of property. The last large-scale housing project in East Harlem was completed in 1965. Such activism gave rise to political groups like the Young Lords, which came to prominence in 1969 when they used confrontational tactics to bring services and attention to the residents of East Harlem. Some of the Young Lords alumni include journalists Juan Gonzalez, Felipe Luciano, Geraldo Rivera, and Pablo Guzmán.

Historically, 116th Street (Luis Muñoz Marín Blvd., named for the first elected governor of Puerto Rico, who lived in East Harlem before returning to Puerto Rico in 1940 and ushered in Commonwealth status to the island) has been the primary business hub of Spanish Harlem. From Lexington to First Avenues the street is lined with businesses selling food, clothing, and other specialty and ethnically specific goods. East 116th Street terminates at FDR Drive, East River Plaza, a retail mall that opened in 2009 with large commercial tenants—Costco, Target, Best Buy, and Marshalls. Along Park Avenue between East 111th and 116th Streets is the famous La Marqueta, an enclosed market that once housed 500 mostly Puerto Rican merchants who presided over stalls in five buildings under the elevated Metro-North tracks selling fresh tropical produce, meats, fish, and dairy products. Once the spiritual heart of East Harlem, La Marqueta was a vibrant regional center for Spanish food and groceries during the 1950s and 1960s. But a long decline began in the 1970s, and today, despite repeated efforts at revitalization, the old atmosphere has all but disappeared. East Harlem’s commercial and business district has expanded to encompass Third Avenue between 112th and 124th Streets.

The cultural crossroads of East Harlem is located from 104th to 108th Streets between Fifth and Madison Avenues. In addition to El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York, other organizations that strengthen East Harlem’s cultural identity include the artist collective Taller Boricua, the Afro-Dominican folklore group Palo Monte, Los Pleneros de la 21 (a performing ensemble which preserves the Afro-Puerto Rican traditions of the Bomba and Plena), and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (which presents and produces bilingual professional theater and offers artistic development through its Raúl Juliá Training Unit to emerging and established artists). The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, home to the Raices Latin Music Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, serves as a focus for theatre, dance, and musical performance in the neighborhood; it also hosts the annual competition to award the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Piano Scholarship, which was established in Palmieri’s memory by Tito Puente for the benefit of intermediate and advanced young (aged twelve to twenty-five) pianists’ study of Latin-style piano.

Of the three Harlem areas, Spanish Harlem is recognized most in popular songs, including Ben E. King’s R&B song “Spanish Harlem,” The Mamas & the Papas’ song “Spanish Harlem,” Louie Ramirez’s Latin soul song “Lucy’s Spanish Harlem,” and Bob Dylan’s song “Spanish Harlem Incident.” It was also mentioned in Elton John’s song “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and Carlos Santana’s song “Maria Maria.” Spanish Harlem has given birth to everything from sixties-era boogaloo to mind-bending salsa and many grooves in between. It inspired the formation of Oscar Hernandez’s Grammy Award–winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra. The feature film Vote For Me! takes place in current-day Spanish Harlem, and was written and directed by former New York State Assemblyman Nelson Antonio Denis. The area is also the setting for the J. D. Robb book Salvation in Death, the twenty-seventh book in the popular “in Death” crime series.

East Harlem is also home to one of the few major television studios north of midtown, Metropolis (106th St. and Park Ave.), where shows like BET’s 106 & Park and Chappelle’s Show have been produced. Many famous artists have lived and worked in Spanish Harlem, including the renowned timbalero Tito Puente (110th Street was renamed “Tito Puente Way”), musicians Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Mario Bauza, Johnny Colon, Machito, and Father of Boogaloo Joe Cuba, among others. Actors who at one time called East Harlem home include Al Pacino, Rita Moreno, Burt Lancaster, and Esther Rolle. Miguel Algarin, co-founder of the Lower East Side Nuyorican Poets Café, also was raised in East Harlem. Probably the most famous author from East Harlem was Henry Roth, whose family moved uptown from the Lower East Side. Piri Thomas wrote a bestselling autobiography titled Down These Mean Streets in 1967. Also, the contemporary artist Soraida Martinez, the painter and creator of “Verdadism,” was born in Spanish Harlem. Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gerhig was raised in East Harlem.

Transportation: Bus—M1, M2, M3, M4, M15, M35, M96, M101, M102, M103, M106. Subway—4, 5, 6 and Metro North to 125th St.

Enjoy the show


  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

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A flea market grows in Manhattan

Plants on sale at the launch of the Urban Market Days in Manhattan

A new flea market opened last weekend in southeast Harlem in upper Manhattan, where the commuter rail tracks emerge from the Park Avenue tunnel running north from Grand Central. “We’re located where Metro North passes over 116th Street,” says Bobby Smith, the managing partner for Urban Market Days. “The market is on a 10,000 square foot lot under the train tracks between the north- and south-bound lanes of Park Avenue.”

“We’re just kicking things into operation. Last weekend was our first weekend,” he says. Smith, a former Aqueduct Flea Market vendor, is partnering with a community garden shop, greenhouse, and plant nursery to host the weekly open-air swap meet. Urban Garden Center LLC has the retail rights to the empty lot under the railway, and operates there during the same hours as the flea market. Since the market is held under the elevated, it operates rain or shine.

The location also offers many other advantages, says Smith, especially access to a huge number of shoppers with disposable income, close to several mass transit lines. The Urban Market Days “pop-up market,” as organizers call it, has 65 spaces, costing $60 per day to rent. There is the possibility for expansion later on, both into another lot and indoors in the bad weather. It is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Christmas, and maybe after.

The new flea market also got a mention in the New York Daily News.

According to Smith, the market is open to vendors of new and used merchandise, whether they are established sellers, like those displaced from the Aqueduct Flea Market, or just people looking to supplement their income. Organizers hope to have new vendors and merchandise every week. “We seek to attract all types of exhibitors, both new and used, antique, green, vintage, music, jewelry, clothing, art, hand crafts, thrift items, estate sale goods, collectibles, memorabilia, and prepared and packaged food,” he says. “We’re trying to go back to the roots of the area with an open air market.”

The market Web site will be operational soon, and it is active on Facebook. A vendor application is currently available. For more information, call (646) 727-0087 or e-mail urbanmarketnyc@gmail.com.

Photo credit, with thanks: Urban Market Days.