Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Making Space- Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction - MoMA.jpg

Saturday, April 15 to August 13, 2017| 10:30am – 5:30pm

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Making Space shines a spotlight on the stunning achievements of women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968). In the postwar era, societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, yet their work was often dismissed in the male dominated art world, and few support networks existed for them. Abstraction dominated artistic practice during these years, as many artists working in the aftermath of World War II sought an international language that might transcend national and regional narratives—and for women artists, additionally, those relating to gender.

Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition features more than 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics by some 50 artists. Within a trajectory that is at once loosely chronological and synchronous, it includes works that range from the boldly gestural canvases of Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell; the radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego; and the reductive abstractions of Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, and Jo Baer; to the fiber weavings of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney; and the process-oriented sculptures of Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse. The exhibition will also feature many little-known treasures such as collages by Anne Ryan, photographs by Gertrudes Altschul, and recent acquisitions on view for the first time at MoMA by Ruth Asawa, Carol Rama, and Alma Woodsey Thomas.

Organized by Starr Figura, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, and Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, with Hillary Reder, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

Cost: Adults $25; Seniors $18 (65 and over with ID); Students $14 (Full-time with ID); and Children Free (16 and under).

Museum of Modern Art
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Honoring the Legacy of Norma Merrick Sklarek: The ‘Rosa Parks of Architecture’

The year was 1928. It was the year that the world saw the first fully air-conditioned office building open, Amelia Earhart make norma-merrick-sklarek_blog-1her first Atlantic Ocean flight and the last recording of Ma Rainey, “Mother of Blues.”

That same year in Harlem, where wealthy residents of color were becoming land owners, Dr. Walter Ernest Merrick and Amy Merrick’s child, Norma Merrick Sklarek, was born. Their daughter would later make history as the first female Black architect. Little did they know how impactful the 1928 earmarking of 640 acres of land by the Los Angeles City Council for a new airport would be to Sklarek, until 58 years later when her completed design on the historic Terminal One for the landmark Los Angeles International Airport was unveiled.

“Until the end of World War II, I think there was strong discrimination against women in architecture. The schools had a quota, it was obvious, a quota against women and a quota against blacks. In architecture, I had absolutely no role model. I’m happy today to be a role model for others that follow,” Sklarek said.

Continue reading

By Chérmelle D. Edwards | May 18, 2015

Will Congress give the most heroic of the Harlem Hellfighters the recognition he risked his life for?

Harlem, NY — A hundred years after The Great War began, there’s still one U.S. veteran who’s fighting. He and his supporters are trying to win a war for recognition. Despite the fact that Sgt. Henry Johnson almost single-handedly carried out one of the most heroic acts in the history of the U.S. military, he never received the nation’s highest honor, simply because of his skin color.

Now, however, there’s a movement underway in Congress to have Johnson fully recognized for valor. But with the make up of Congress having just been changed in last week’s election, it remains an open question as to whether or not full recongition will soon be given to the most distinguished soldier in the regiment dubbed The Harlem Hellfighters.

The 1,400 or so soldiers who comprised the 369th Regiment may be the most remarkable group of men you may never have heard of.

“The worst thing the country did to them,” Max Brooks, author of the graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters, said in an interview with PIX11 News, “was after the war, when their memory was intentionally ignored.”

There is a New York State highway sign next to the 135th Street exit in Harlem that points out that the adjacent street has been officially renamed The 369th Harlem Hellfighters Drive, in honor of the storied group of enlistees. They were the first Americans of any color to fight in World War I.

“They were first in everything,” said Michael Mowatt-Wynn, Ph.D, chief historian and CEO of the Harlem and The Heights Historical Society.

“More days in combat than any other American unit,” Brooks pointed out, “[and] the first unit of any color to reach the Rhine River.”

They also never lost an inch of ground during their entire wartime deployment.

Despite that, as Mowatt-Wynn explained, “They were reviled by the American [government], but they were accepted by the French, [who] loved the exotic element they brought over there.”

Specifically, the U.S. government placed the Hellfighters, a regiment of volunteers from throughout New York State, under French command. The African-Americans were given French helmets, rifles and ammunition, and often took orders in French.

The soldiers based in Harlem gave back two invaluable gifts to the French: their freedom from an intense German Army, and a musical style the likes of which the Europeans had never heard, and never wanted to forget: jazz.

The 369th’s band toured France and other parts of Europe in the months between first arriving on the continent and being declared combat ready.

“To this day,” said Mowatt-Wynn, “[they were] the most outstanding musicians of their day.”

The band toured Europe led by, coincidentally, James Reese Europe. He was, at the time, a household name in ragtime and jazz so big that future legends

Eubie Blake, Bill Bojangles Robinson and future Puerto Rican megastar Rafael Hernandez jumped at the chance to join the 369th Regiment Band.

But that band was also part of a band of brothers. Their fighting acumen came to be renowned and feared.

“The term ‘Hellfighters,'” said Mowatt-Wynn, “was coined not by the Americans, or the Allies, but by the Germans, because these guys fought like hell.”

The Hellfighters, who were also nicknamed Men of Bronze, helped to win the war with amazing heroics, like those of the unit’s most storied soldier.

“The story of Henry Johnson,” said Brooks, “to me is the most fascinating, because if he had been white, he would have been America’s most celebrated warrior.”

Johnson was on night patrol when a German unit raided, leaving him with 21 wounds. Still, Johnson fought off the attack almost single-handedly with his rifle, which he used as a club when it ran out of bullets. When the rifle butt broke, he used his bolo knife, to kill four Germans and wound at least twenty, who retreated in fear.

Brooks, in his graphic novel, is very clear about why he’s publicizing Johnson’s story. “Ya think it’ll be enough to get me my medal a’ honor?” Johnson asks in the book, days after his heroic act.

Also shortly after his heroic act, the French government awarded Johnson its highest honor, the Croix de Guerre, with a leaf cluster and star.

For its part, the United States ended up giving Johnson his own, chauffered car in the victory parade in New York in September 1919. But it gave Johnson little else. No awards, no benefits.

“[It] shocks me he is not part of the national fabric,” said Brooks in an interview with PIX11 News.

Johnson died, penniless, 11 years after the war.

It wasn’t until seven decades later that his son, Herman Johnson, a Tuskeegee Airman hero in World War II, received, in his father’s memory, the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award.

As for the highest, the Medal of Honor, “There’s no two ways about it,” said Mowatt-Wynn. “In any other circumstances, he would’ve gotten it at that point.”

At this point, however, standing in the way of the Congressional Medal of Honor is Congress itself.

It can only bestow the award within five years of the heroic act. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) led the U.S. Senate in suspending that rule, but will a House of Representatives known for gridlock?

The answer to that question comes from the member of congress from Henry Johnson’s hometown, Albany. “When we go back [to Washington],” said Rep. Paul Tonko (D – Albany/Schenectady), “we’ll start to set an agenda. I hope people can come together to posthumously recognize a hero.”


Posted: Nov 12, 2014 12:32 PM EST

<em class=”wnDate”>Wednesday, November 12, 2014 12:32 PM EST</em>Updated: Nov 12, 2014 12:33 PM EST <em class=”wnDate”>Wednesday, November 12, 2014 12:33 PM EST</em>

 James Ford

New Novel of Harlem Renaissance Is Found

A Columbia graduate student and his adviser have authenticated the student’s discovery of an unknown manuscript of a 1941 novel by Claude McKay, a leading Harlem Renaissance writer and author of the first novel by a black American to become a best seller.

The author Claude McKay in the 1920s.

The author Claude McKay in the 1920s.

The manuscript, “Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem,” was discovered in a previously untouched university archive and offers an unusual window on the ideas and events (like Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia) that animated Harlem on the cusp of World War II. The two scholars have received permission from the McKay estate to publish the novel, a satire set in 1936, with an introduction about how it was found and its provenance verified.

McKay, a Jamaican-born writer and political activist who died in 1948, at 58 (though some biographies say 57), influenced a generation of black writers, including Langston Hughes. His work includes the 1919 protest poem “If We Must Die,” (quoted by Winston Churchill) and “Harlem Shadows,” a 1922 poetry collection that some critics say ushered in the Harlem Renaissance. He also wrote the 1928 best-selling novel “Home to Harlem.” But his last published fiction during his lifetime was the 1933 novel “Banana Bottom.”

“This is a major discovery,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard University scholar, who was one of three experts called upon to examine the novel and supporting research. “It dramatically expands the canon of novels written by Harlem Renaissance writers and, obviously, novels by Claude McKay.

The manuscript of the novel by McKay that was found.

The manuscript of the novel by McKay that was found.

“More important, because it was written in the second half of the Harlem Renaissance, it shows that the renaissance continued to be vibrant and creative and turned its focus to international issues — in this case the tensions between Communists, on the one hand, and black nationalists, on the other, for the hearts and minds of black Americans,” said Mr. Gates, the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.

This literary detective story began in the summer of 2009, when Jean-Christophe Cloutier, a doctoral candidate in English and comparative literature, was working as an intern in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia. He was going through more than 50 boxes of materials belonging to Samuel Roth, a kind of literary pariah who died in 1974 and is best known for being the appellant in a famous obscenity case in the 1950s.

Mr. Roth is also known for publishing work without permission, including excerpts from James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and editions of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” by D. H. Lawrence. Mr. Roth attended Columbia, and his family donated his collection to the university.

No one knew of a connection between Mr. Roth and McKay, Mr. Cloutier said, as he came upon the roughly 300-page double-spaced manuscript, bound between cardboardlike covers bearing the novel’s title and McKay’s name. He also found two letters from McKay to Mr. Roth about possibly ghostwriting a novel to be called “Descent Into Harlem,” about an Italian immigrant who settles in Harlem.

“Amiable” is a different story, though, rife with political intrigue, romance, seedy nightclubs and scenes of black intellectual and artistic life in Harlem during the Great Depression.

Mr. Cloutier quickly took his discovery to Brent Hayes Edwards, his dissertation adviser and an expert in black literature. Mr. Edwards, a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia, knew that McKay had published three novels during his lifetime (including “Banjo,” in 1929.) A novella, “Harlem Glory: A Fragment Of Aframerican Life,” was published posthumously).

But he and Mr. Cloutier immediately found in “Amiable” themes that recurred across McKay’s work, like Communism and labor strikes in Harlem, and characters, like the real-life labor leader Sufi Abdul Hamid. The term “Aframerican,” which McKay used to refer to black people in the Western Hemisphere, also appeared in “Amiable.”

Mr. Cloutier and Mr. Edwards gathered additional evidence by rummaging through archives at libraries around the country, including at Yale, Indiana University, Emory University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library (which manages the McKay estate).

They ended up amassing a mountain of archival and circumstantial evidence pointing to McKay’s authorship. But it was the extensive correspondence between McKay and his friend Max Eastman, the writer, political activist and avid supporter of the Harlem Renaissance, that ultimately convinced them that “Amiable” was indeed McKay’s, they said.

“The irrefutable archival evidence we have is when Eastman directly quotes from the novel,” Mr. Cloutier said. “McKay sent him pages, all from the summer of 1941 and a bit later.” (They also found letters referring to a contract between McKay and E. P. Dutton to write the novel.)

The authentication of the novel is “scholarly gold,” said William J. Maxwell, the editor of “Complete Poems: Claude McKay.” Its mocking portraits of Communists show McKay’s decisive break with Communism and his effort to turn his political evolution into art, said Mr. Maxwell, a professor of English and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

Moreover, while the flowering of arts known as the Harlem Renaissance obsessively documented black life in the 1920s, he said, far less is known about the period of the 1930s, focused on in “Amiable.”

Many scholars believe that the Harlem Renaissance’s creative energy had pretty much run out by the late 1930s. But Mr. Edwards said he believed that “Amiable” would eventually be recognized “as the key political novel of the black intellectual life in New York in the late 1930s.”

McKay represents the Communists as amiable with big teeth, he said, but they end up being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“I cannot think of another novel that gives us such a rich and multilayered portrayal of black life,” Mr. Edwards continued. “There are scenes with artists in salons, in nightclubs, in queer nightclubs. It has almost a documentary aspect.”

Despite his moment in the spotlight, Mr. Cloutier is still in the middle of his dissertation, which he expects to complete in 2013 or 2014. Its title? “Archival Vagabonds: 20th Century American Fiction and the Archives in Novelistic Practice.” And the McKay manuscript remains where Mr. Cloutier found it, now archived in Box 29, Folders 7 and 8, of the Samuel Roth papers.


Published: September 14, 2012

The boy Harry from Harlem did good

To most younger people who remember him, Harry Belafonte is mainly known for singing infectious but vaguely annoying 1950s Afro-Caribbean pop songs like Day-O.

Indeed, anyone under 30 may not know who he is at all.

If so, this expansive and entertaining, if sometimes hagiographic, documentary from Susanne Rostock will definitely set them straight.

And if Rostock’s film is a little fawning now and then, it’s hard to blame her, because Belafonte’s has been a truly extraordinary life.

Born in extreme poverty in a Harlem tenement in 1927, Harold George Bellanfanti Jr was the child of a Caribbean housekeeper, and was partly raised in Jamaica by his grandfather.

After finishing high school in Harlem, he served in the US Navy during World War II and returned to New York. He was working as a janitor’s assistant when a tenant gave him tickets to a show at Harlem’s American Negro Theater.

The theatre’s resident company used plays to give a voice to the black American experience, and the young Belafonte was entranced.

He met Sidney Poitier and began acting, but also experimented with singing and developed a keen interest in folk songs, both American and Jamaican. In 1956 Belafonte had a big hit with Caribbean folk song Matilda, and his debut album Calypso became the first LP to sell over a million copies.

He became an overnight sensation, and audiences went wild for his sensual live performances, but Harry was no mere pop star.

Inspired by the fearless campaigning of black singer Paul Robeson, Belafonte became increasingly exercised by the fate of black Americans, and would be a key player in the Civil Rights movement.

It’s this period of Belafonte’s life that Rostock’s film spends most time exploring, and understandably so, because the singer’s contribution to that cause cannot be overstated.

He bailed Martin Luther King out of Birmingham City Jail; supported the preacher’s family; financed the Freedom Riders; courted the Kennedys; and helped organise the iconic March on Washington in 1963.

Belafonte also rallied Hollywood chums like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Charlton Heston to put their names to the Civil Rights movement, and the singer also put his own career, and even his life, at risk.

His energy and commitment is remarkable, and his engagement against injustice has continued; he’s campaigned against apartheid, famine in Africa, and the American engagement in Iraq.

Admirable stuff, and at 85 he’s still going strong.

But Rostock’s film is too respectful to provide genuine insight; the recollections of Belafonte, Poitier and others about the ’60s are fascinating, but Belafonte’s personal life is only nodded to respectfully, and no hard questions are asked.

Why, for instance, has he been so consistently ambivalent about the presidency of Barack Obama?

– Paul Whitington

Harlem bus depot renamed after Tuskegee Airmen

A Harlem bus depot was renamed after the famed Tuskegee Airmen today in a moving ceremony attended by many of the surviving members of the heroic group.

Tuckegee Airman Reginald T. Brewster, 94, middle, and on the left is his grandson Roland D. Brewster, 14. The NYC Transit renamed a transit facility in honor of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen and dedicated to the 12 Airmen who formally worked for the transit system. Twelve Tuskegee Airmen — who battled Nazis and the systematic racism of the 1940’s military — worked for New York City Transit upon returning from World War II.

Reginald Brewster — one of the two surviving former transit workers — attended the ceremony with his son and grandson.

He received a standing ovation, then delivered an off the cuff speech.

“Thank you so much for making this such a beautiful and such a momentous occasion, one that I will never forget,” said Brewster, 94, who was stationed in France during WWII.

The former transit clerk said that he was “living testimony the color of your skin does not determine your mental capacity or your character.”

The remarkably spry Brewster — a recently retired lawyer and classically trained pianist who speaks five languages — also urged the crowd to be thankful for everything this country has to offer.

“I ask each and every one of you to be proud . . . that you are able to live in a country of freedom where the ability to forge ahead is only limited by your determination to forge ahead,” he said.

After the ceremony, he signed his autograph on programs for many of the bus drivers who work at the depot.

His 14 year-old grandson watched his speech from the front row.

“I’m really proud of my grandfather,” said Roland Brewster, an eighth grader at the Dalton School on the Upper East Side.

“He paved the way for African Americans.”

Roscoe Brown — a Tuskegee Airman who went on to become director of the City University’s Center for Urban Education Policy — said that New York City Transit was one of the best employers for returning black World War II servicemen.

“You can’t understand just how segregated it was in 1946,” said Brown.

“People would tell you to your face we don’t hire Negroes here.”

New York City Transit was quick to hire the returning black soldiers, he said, in part because it recognized the enormous pool of talent.

“This is truly a great day . .. and the greatest day for those of us still here to enjoy it,” said Brown.

He did not work for transit but attended the ceremony to honor his friends who had.

“Transit opened doors,” he said.

In addition to renaming the former 100th Street Depot, the MTA also installed a bronze plaque outside the state-of-the-art facility commemorating the 12 heroic workers.

The other surviving former transit worker Noel Harris, who was born in 1925, was too ill to attend the ceremony.

All buses that leave from that depot will have a Tuskegee Airmen decal on its side.

“All these men were heroes in war and they were heroes after the war in New York City Transit when they served all of the people of the city of New York,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

The legendary group of airmen all trained as pilots in segregated Tuskegee, Ala.

Those well-trained soldiers eventually performed so well in battle that historians credit the pilots with leading to the desegregation of the military.

Their undisputed heroism was also a catalyst for the modern civil rights movement.

Harriet Dickenson attended the ceremony in memory of her late father, a Tuskegee Airman who was a deputy chief engineer at NYC Transit.

“I’m very honored,” she said.

Harry Dickenson spoke often of his time as a pilot, and kept in touch with the other airmen throughout his life.

“I grew up on the stories,” she said.

Some were not so pleasant.

“They were officers, but some of the white privates wouldn’t salute them out on the street,” said Dickenson.

She described her father as a “well-rounded” man who loved mentoring young people, and instilled in her from an early age the importance of a good education.

It worked.

She’s now a doctor who works for the MTA helping injured employees.

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Tuskegee Airman Gains Newfound Fame Thanks to ‘Red Tails’ Movie

LONG ISLAND CITY — For nearly 70 years, Dabney Montgomery’s wartime heroics had gone almost unnoticed.

But the 88-year-old Harlem man, who is one of the few remaining Tuskegee Airmen, has suddently become a minor celebrity thanks to a new movie.

Dabney Montgomery, 88, often wears a hat honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. He is also seen here with a Congressional Medal around his neck. (DNAinfo/Jill Colvin)

“Red Tails” tells the story of the historic group of airmen who were the first African-American military aviators who operated during World War II when many states in the U.S. were still subject to Jim Crow laws that mandated racial segregation.

Montgomery was a member of the ground crew.

He’s now using the attention the movie has generated to educate New Yorkers about the contribution African-Americans made at that time.

His latest speaking engagement came Monday at Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City, Queens. He also spoke last week to federal employees at the Social Security Administration building in Jamaica as part of a Black History Month program.

Montgomery, a longtime community activist in Harlem, said he garners the most delight from events like these, where he can educate generations of Americans about the camaraderie among the Tuskegee Airmen.

“We try to emphasize the contribution of African-Americans to this nation that is not taught in the school system,” Montgomery said.

“I do it free because I think that school kids should know that African-Americans have done major contributions to this nation to keep it alive and going.”

Montgomery credits the recently released movie, which stars Terrence Howard and Method Man, with revitalizing interest in the Tuskegee Airmen.

He calls the film “a work of art” and said it accurately depicts “the fellowship that we had and the bravery that we showed … when no one else would do this.”

Montgomery was born in Selma, Ala., in 1923, and began his military service during World War II when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps, now the United States Air Force. He was a grounds crew member with the Tuskegee Airmen in southern Italy from 1943 to 1945.

After the war, Montgomery moved to New York City and joined one of the state’s oldest congregations, Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Harlem. He became a Sunday school teacher and eventually rose to youth director, a position he held from 1970 until 1999.

He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 2007 after President George W. Bush signed a bill authorizing the award for all documented and original Tuskegee Airmen.

Montgomery is active with Manhattan Community Board 10, where he sits on the parks and recreation sub-committees. He said being on the board helps him stay up-to-date on all that’s happening in the ever-changing neighborhood.

“When I came here back in 1954, Harlem was all black,” Montgomery said. “When you walked down the street or went shopping or anything, you only saw black people.

“Now you see an international community: Asians, white population, the Puerto Rican population.”

He added that he has no plans to slow down, despite his age.

“That’s me, that’s my lifestyle,” he said. “As long as I can move around, I get involved. There is so much to do here.”

February 28, 2012 11:22am | By Nick Hirshon, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

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Washington Heights – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, iPod

Washington Heights, located in Upper Manhattan, is bound by Harlem to the South along 155th Street, and Inwood to the North along Dyckman Street, the Hudson River to the West and the Harlem River to the East. It is named for Fort Washington, a fortification used by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War to defend the area from the British forces. With Manhattan‘s highest natural elevation, 265 ft above sea level, located in Bennett Park, it was a very important area for General George Washington to occupy and control. But during the Battle of Fort Washington, in 1776, the area was lost to the British and renamed “Fort Knyphausen” to honor the German general who had led the successful attack, and held it for the remainder of the war.

Many ethnic groups have moved in this area starting with Irish immigrants in the early 1900s, Jews from Frankfurt am Main, Germany giving it the name Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson and Austria that were leaving their homes as the Nazi Party came to power in the late 1940s. Even after World War II Germans continued to move to the area around 160th Street and Broadway and it was referred to as the Fourth Reich. During the 1950s and 1960s, many Greeks moved to Washington Heights and it was referred to as the “Astoria of Manhattan.” By the 1980s, the neighborhood became mostly Dominican and referred to as “Quisqueya Heights“. By the 2000s, the area had rapidly declined and was known for its heavy drug trade and crime. With efforts from various City, State and Federal agencies working together the drug trade and crime rate has dropped dramatically and Washington Heights is on the move to becoming one of the premier neighborhoods to live in Manhattan.

Washington Heights is home to numerous cultural and historical sites, parks, sports teams and educational institutions, like Yeshiva University, a private university founded in 1886. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US that combines Jewish studies with regular studies. Washington Heights is also home to The Boricua College, founded in 1974 and designated to serve the needs of its predominantly Hispanic students through a bilingual, bicultural approach to learning, and special course offerings in Puerto Rican art and history; and the Hispanic Society of America Museum and Library, which are located in Audubon Terrace; Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), an academic medical center located between 165th and 169th streets on Broadway, that includes Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health.

You will also find The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, which is associated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring medieval art and culture. The Morris-Jumel Mansion – the oldest house in Manhattan – which is located in Jumel Terrace Historic District, along with 555 Edgecombe Avenue, once home to recording artist, actor, athlete, and scholar Paul Robeson, musician Count Basie, and boxer Joe Louis.

The Audubon Ballroom, built by Thomas W. Lamb in 1912, was once a ballroom, vaudeville house, movie theater, synagogue, and meeting hall. This is the site where Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. Today, it is home to the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, shops, restaurants and Columbia University‘s Audubon Business and Technology Center. Tucked away in Fort Washington Park is the Little Red Lighthouse, a small lighthouse located at the tip of Jeffrey’s Hook at the base of the George Washington Bridge. It was made famous by a 1942, children’s book named The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward.

Many of the great sports teams have played in Washington Heights – the New York Giants, now the San Francisco Giants played at the Polo Grounds between 155th and 159th Streets until the end of the 1957 season, when they moved to San Francisco. This area known as Hilltop Park located at 168th Street and Broadway was home to the New York Highlanders. Today, they are known as the New York Yankees, who played there between 1903 and 1912, and at the Polo Grounds between 1913 and 1922. The New York Mets played their first two seasons, 1962 and 1963, at the Polo Grounds. The Polo Grounds was also home to the New York Giants, from 1925 to 1955, and the New York Jets in 1960. The Fort Washington Avenue Armory, built in 1911 by Walker & Morris, is home to The New Balance Track and Field Center with an Olympic-caliber track that is one of the fastest in the world.

Many famous people were born, and have lived and worked in Washington Heights, including Academy Award nominated actor Laurence Fishburne, columnist and reporter at The New York Times Jim Dwyer, Creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk Stan Lee, former National Security Advisor and United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, “Dr. Ruth“, sex educator and sex counselor Ruth Westheimer, Dominican baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramírez, and Dominican-American baseball player for the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez. In addition to those well-known men, Althea Gibson, the first African American Wimbledon Champion, Frankie Lymon of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” fame, Freddie Prinze, of Puerto Rican and Hungarian descent, stand-up comedian, best known for his 1970s TV series Chico and the Man, David Dinkins, former Mayor of New York City, 1990-1994, and Tiny Tim, real name – Herbert Khaury; singer and ukelele player, a novelty act of the 1960s best known for his rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” lived in Washington Heights.

Transportation: Bus—M2, M3, M4, M5, M100, M101, BX3, BX6, BX7, BX13, BX35, BX36. Subway—A, C, 1


  • 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
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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 @ and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

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Harlem Hellfighter to get Medal of Honor?

Three recently discovered documents may finally right a historic wrong with a Portland connection.

One document in particular, a 1918 memo found in the National Archives, could provide the missing evidence necessary to finally bestow a Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military award, to an African-American soldier who fought in World War I under Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish’s grandfather.

Because of segregation, Sgt. Henry Johnson wore a French uniform and served under French command, though his commanding officer was Fish’s grandfather, Hamilton Fish III, a white commander of the 369th Infantry Regiment, which was made up of black soldiers.

The technicality have may have hampered efforts to get Johnson the Medal of Honor. But the finding of a memo written by Gen. John J. Pershing, World War I Army Commander in Chief, could provide the “chain-of-command” endorsement necessary for the honor, according to an article Tuesday in The Albany Times Union in Johnson’s hometown.

In the memo Pershing writes, “Reports in hand show notable instance of bravery and devotion shown by 2 soldiers of American colored regiment operating in French sector.”

The memo continues: “Before day light on May 15, Private Henry Johnson and Private Roberts, while on sentry duty at some distance from one another, were attacked by German raiding party estimated at 20 men, who advanced in 2 groups attacking at once from flank and rear. Both men fought bravely in hand-to-hand encounters, one resorting to use of bolo knife after rifle jammed and further fighting with bayonet and butt became impossible. Evidence that at least one and probably second German was severely cut. Third known to have been shot. Attention drawn to fact that the 2 colored sentries first attacked continued fighting after receiving wounds, and despite of use of grenades by superior force, and should be given credit for preventing by their bravery the taking prisoner of our men.”

Historians have long known of Johnson’s heroics. His regiment has been called the Harlem Hellfighters and lauded in books and documentaries.

Though Johnson was awarded the country’s second highest military honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the highest award has remained elusive. His son, who was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II, spent decades fighting for the cause but died without seeing his father receive the recognition.

For years, Sen. Charles Schumer has led the campaign with the backing of other New York elected officials and with support from Sen. Ron Wyden’s office, though the pursuit of the medal has been unsuccessful. On Tuesday, Schumer called for the U.S. Army to reopen the case.

Hamilton Fish, III, grandfather of Nick Fish, marching with his regiment.

“Having a chain-of-command endorsement from the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force is an extraordinary development in the evolution of our understanding of an extraordinary story,” Schumer said in  news release. “A second, and also significant, new piece of primary historical documentation has also surfaced —  an eyewitness description from the soldier Johnson saved, Mr. Neadom Roberts.”

The third document is a letter written by one of Johnson’s commanders, William Hayward. It confirms Johnson’s action as recounted by Pershing and Roberts.

The new pieces of evidence should be enough for the Army to review Johnson’s application, Schumer said.

“The stumbling block has always been new information,” Fish said Thursday. “And this memo from Pershing is the gold standard of new information.”

Fish became involved in the effort after reading a story about the campaign in The Skanner. He was close to his grandfather, despite some opposite political beliefs, and knew his grandfather would have wanted the brave soldier honored.

“My hope is that when this is finally concluded, and a ceremony is scheduled, and the president confers this medal on Johnson, that his commanding officer’s grandson can be there, that I can be there, to represent the family.”