New York’s famous 369th (Old 15th) Infantry Regiment arrives home from France. Via the National Archives
In the earliest hours of May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts of the 369th Infantry Regiment, better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, were keeping guard over a frontline trench in France’s Argonne Forest, about 115 miles east of Paris. Suddenly, two-dozen German soldiers charged out of the pitch-black no-man’s-land. Despite being stabbed 21 times and shot at least twice, Johnson killed four German soldiers, repelled the other 20, and saved his injured comrade Roberts from capture, using little more than a nine-inch bolo knife. Days later, the French Army stood at attention as Johnson and Roberts became the first Americans ever awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor. Johnson’s metal included a Golden Palm, for extraordinary valor.
Johnson and Robert’s decorations were the first of 171 individual Croix de Guerre medals awarded to members of the Harlem Hellfighters. By the war’s end, the Croix would be awarded to the unit as a whole, in recognition of its incredible contribution to the war effort: The Hellfighters spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox.
The whole history
View of the proposed new tower, looking north from 5th Avenue and 108th Street
A church has filed an application with New York City to rezone a strip of Central Park North in order to make way for a new mixed-use tower. La Hermosa Christian Church is seeking zoning changes to all or part of at least five lots along West 110th Street, as first reported by YIMBY. A 188-page environmental assessment statement prepared for the Department of City Planning this week details the development of a 33-story mixed-use tower with 160 units, of which roughly 48 would be affordable.
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Rendering courtesy of The Janus Property Group.
From the mid-19th to early 20th century, an area in West Harlem known as Manhattanville was a bustling industrial village dotted with factories and breweries. Now the area is transforming from a unique former factory district into a home for a growing roster of commercial businesses, nonprofits, and students and researchers from Columbia University and CUNY’s City College. Leading the way on developing this evolving neighborhood is Janus Property Group. The company announced that its 11-story Taystee Lab building will break ground next week, bringing the city’s first major life science campus to the site of a former bread bakery.
More uptown excitement, this way
Joe Cruz Jr. (right) at the Jalisco distillery
With Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, New Yorkers most certainly have margaritas on the brain. And while we may typically associate tequila with Mexico, a new label here in NYC is bridging the divide between our southern neighbor and local entrepreneurship. Joe Cruz Jr. grew up in Harlem, spending much of his younger years hanging out in the Bronx. After working in the beverage industry for many years, he decided to take a mere $25,000 and create his own “ultra-smooth” tequila right from Harlem. And so in late 2017, YaVe Tequila was born. Not only has the company garnered culinary headlines (it produces the first-ever mango-flavored tequila), but it’s caught the attention of local stakeholders thanks to Joe’s commitment to working with his neighborhood.
Read on for our interview with Joe
Shepard Hall at the City College of New York via Wikimedia
Now that “Operation Varsity Blues” has shown afresh the ways in which the nation’s elite can buy admission into prestigious universities, it may be instructive to consider the history City College, the flagship of the CUNY system, and the first free institution of higher education in the nation. Founded as The Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847, City College has long nurtured brilliant students from all walks of life as the “The Harvard of the Proletariat,” and served as an engine of upward mobility for New Yorkers and other strivers from around the world. As the home of the first student government in the nation, the first student-led strike, and the first degree-granting evening program, City boasts a legacy of equity and equality that reflects the best ideals of the city it serves.
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Google Street View of Bethune Towers
A lottery for waiting list spots for Mitchell-Lama rental apartments in Bethune Towers at 650 Lenox Avenue is about to open for New York state residents. Rents range from $741 for a studio to $1,215 for a one-bedroom unit. Preference will be given to documented veterans who are selected in the lottery. The deadline to apply for all is April 2, 2019. Some apartments in the building have balconies and views of the Harlem River and the 145th Street Bridge, and the 3 subway is only a few blocks away.
Find out more about Mitchell-Lama and how to apply
Photo of Harriet Tubman Memorial, “Swing Low,” in Harlem via denisbin on Flickr
Harriet Tubman, the fearless abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad who led scores of slaves to freedom in some 13 expeditions, fought for the Union Army during the Civil War, and dedicated herself to Women’s Suffrage later in life, was known as “Moses” in her own time, and is revered in our time as an extraordinary trailblazer. Her status as a groundbreaking African American woman also extends to the now-contentious realm of public statuary and historical commemoration, since Tubman was the first African American woman to be depicted in public sculpture in New York City.
Tubman’s statue, also known as “Swing Low,” was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art program, and designed by the African-American artist Alison Saar. It was dedicated in 2008 at Harlem’s Harriet Tubman Triangle on 122nd Street. In her memorial sculpture, Saar chose to depict Tubman “not so much as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, but as a train itself, an unstoppable locomotive that worked towards improving the lives of slaves for most of her long life.” She told the Parks Department, “I wanted not merely to speak of her courage or illustrate her commitment, but to honor her compassion.”
Learn all about this statue
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta being greeted by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (left) and labor leader A. Philip Randolph (right) at the Pan American World Airways terminal, in New York City: Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. (1950 – 1959).
Open as of January 15, a new photography exhibit titled, “Crusader: Martin Luther King Jr.” at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center considers Reverend King as man, traveler and friend. The show offers an intimate travelogue of the civil rights leader’s visits to India, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance in Oslo, Norway, and work as a crusader for non-violent civil rights action, captured by noted photographers of the day.
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A record-shattering listing just hit the market: twin adjacent townhomes in Harlem are seeking a whopping $27,000,000 for both properties. The homes are currently independent but could be combined into a rather impressive megamansion. The price is unparalleled in the area and five times the record selling price of a Harlem townhouse, which sold last February for $5.1 million. As Mansion Global reported, listing agent Siddiq Patterson of the Corcoran Group said he believed the price was justified by the property’s scale and storied past. “The bones and the history is something you just don’t get” with other homes in the area, he stated.
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Entering the 1880 townhouse at 210 West 122nd Street in Harlem is like stepping back in time. The six-bedroom property—now on the market for $3,750,00—is currently a bed and breakfast where guests from all over the world enjoy the grandeur of this authentic Victorian home filled with original details: mahogany millwork, stained glass transoms, inlaid floors, and seven fireplaces. The old world charm is balanced by luxurious 21st-century amenities including a recently updated kitchen and waterfall jacuzzis. Prospective buyers will be able to continue operating the bed and breakfast or simply enjoy this architectural gem for themselves.
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