Rough Morning – Car Got Broken Into

This morning I went to get the car so we could go down and meet our architect and I discovered that the window had been smashed overnight.

broken window

It was even parked on a good block – Fort Washington Avenue just south of 190th. To say the least, it’s sort a irritating – broken glass gets EVERYWHERE.

broken glass

They rifled through the compartment between the seats, but I had taken the iPod out months ago to put a new selection of songs on it and hadn’t put it back. They also got into the glove compartment and stole my Valentine One radar detector. The radar detector will cost about $400 to replace and the window looks like it will be about $350.

I just changed insurance companies and I’m not sure if I have full glass coverage. I’ll call the agent on Monday morning and figure things out. It’s just such a hassle…

NYPD: Sitting Prohibited

Yesterday I was in Grand Central and found it funny that NYPD had a huge sign saying sitting on the steps was prohibited, yet a whole bunch of people were sitting on the steps regardless…

Sitting on steps prohibited by NYPD

And not just one or two people… So much for people being afraid of the police.

Where “The Gays” Are In Harlem

I used to hate the term “the gays” because the only people I heard saying it were bigots. Now it seems everyone uses it, and it’s shorter than “gay men and lesbians” so it fits in the title, but I still feel weird using it…

Anyway, that said… I’ve heard for a long time that you can tell when a neighborhood is going to gentrify by whether “the gays” move in… Specifically gay men – since we don’t have the same level of safety issues that women have, and we don’t (traditionally) have kids, so we aren’t worried about how good the schools are. Some of us learned how to fix things from our fathers, and some of us have a sense of style. (I’m always amused by the ones who don’t.)

If you subscribe the the “gentrification follows gay men” theory, then you’ll find the following interesting…

WNYC has done a map that plots where gay and lesbian couples live. Here’s the results for Central and South Harlem…

Gay & Lesbian Couples in Harlem

I’m not quite sure what to think of the fact that we dominate Morningside Park, but you can see that the Mount Morris Park neighborhood is pretty popular with gay men and lesbians. Somewhat surprisingly South Harlem doesn’t have all that many gay and lesbian couples – just right on the border with the Upper West Side. The area between Lenox and 5th Avenue around Astor Row seems pretty popular as well.

Now if we could just get a gay bar somewhere near Red Rooster – that would be perfect 🙂

Apparently West Harlem is much less gay…

Gay and Lesbian Couples in West Harlem

It seems that the new condo developments just off Bradhurst are popular with gay men and lesbians, but otherwise the neighborhood is pretty average. What’s interesting also is the low number of gay men and lesbians in Hamilton Heights west of Amsterdam Avenue. That neighborhood isn’t as well established as the historic district which is mostly east of Amsterdam.

So the take away from this is that gay men and lesbians seem to gravitate towards quality… Areas with new condos and historic districts have a greater concentration of gays, while areas with large housing projects have far fewer gay men and lesbians. Personally I think the “gentrification follows gay men” theory is generally proven right by the maps above…

Harlem Tavern Is Crazy Busy

After dropping by the house today we decided to check out Harlem Tavern – it opened a couple weeks ago while we were away in Toronto. It’s still crazy busy – there was a pretty big line to get in and the bouncer manning the entrance couldn’t tell us how long the wait would be. He guessed it would be 45 minutes (!).

Crowd at Harlem Tavern

I guess it’s a good thing that people are patronizing places on FDB. In the end that will encourage more businesses to open up and make the neighborhood a better place to live. But I gotta say the love for this one particular place sorta mystifies me.

We wound up going to Bad Horse Pizza instead. It was about half full and the kids that were there were very well behaved (unlike the first time we went there).

Was 123rd Street The Protestant Block?

Back in the day when townhouses like ours were built (late 1800s) the ones in Harlem were built primarily for German Jews and Harlem was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood up until around 1910 or 1920.

What’s struck me as interesting is that our block has two churches – one at the corner of Lenox, and another mid-block – but neither were Jewish – they were both originally Protestant.

Closest to us, about halfway between Lenox Ave and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, is the Greater Metropolitan Baptist Church at 147 West 123rd St. It was originally built in 1897 as the German-American St. Paul Lutheran Church of Harlem and designed in the Gothic style by architects Ernest W. Schneider and Harry Herter. The German nature of the church fits the neighborhood, but instead of being Jewish it was Lutheran.

Further down the block at the corner of 123rd and Lenox Ave. is the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church. The origins of its building are pretty interesting… It was originally built in 1887 (the architect was John Rochester Thomas) by a Dutch Reformed congregation that could trace it’s roots back to 1660 when they were the Harlem Reformed Low Dutch Church. The church changed it’s name over the years to the First Collegiate Church of Harlem. As the population of Harlem was exploding the congregation, which was then located in East Harlem, decided it needed to open another church in the area, so they built the Second Collegiate Dutch Church at 123 and Lenox and the pastor and 150 wealthy members moved to the new church leaving the poor members over in East Harlem at the old church. The old church, now Elmendorf Reformed Church, is still located over at 121 and 3rd Avenue and is the oldest functioning religious institution in Harlem.

While today we may not care whether someone is Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, etc. back then religion was a much bigger deal. In those days there were “nativists” who saw themselves as “original New Yorkers” – they were all Protestant and rather fiercely anti-Catholic. Today we don’t really understand why the Irish and Italians were so discriminated against, but a big part of it was religion – they were Catholics coming into a Protestant-controlled country. People organized themselves based on religion.

Religion was also important for Jews. There was a big split between the German Jews and the Eastern European Jews. Like their Christian countrymen, German Jews were reformed. German Jews had more money than their Eastern European counterparts and their social service agencies simultaneously took care of Jewish kids and pressured them to become more Americanized (i.e. less orthodox).

Religion was so incredibly important back then you sorta have to assume that with two Protestant churches on one block in a neighborhood dominated by Synagogues, our block was most likely a Protestant block. As I have more time I’ll see if I can’t map the original religious affiliations of other churches in Central Harlem…