NEWS & APPEARANCES
Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. Introduces Legislation to Create "Harlem Historic District"
The Council finds that, based on reports from a study of Harlem's 125th
Street initiated by the Department of City Planning in partnership with
the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Housing
Preservation and Development (HPD), the Departments of Cultural Affairs
(DCA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of
Small Business Services (SBS), the 125th Street corridor between the
Harlem and Hudson Rivers, also known as Harlem's Main Street, hosts a
multitude of cultural and commercial resources that hold monumental
historic importance for both the Harlem community and African Americans
throughout the world. The Council finds that Harlem's Main Street, in
addition to being abundantly walkable and habitable, fully functions as
the focal point of economic, social, cultural, and transit activity for
the entire Harlem community. The Council recognizes and appreciates the
necessity of protecting and preserving such a corridor that wholly
embodies the historical, social, and cultural heritage of Harlem.
The Council significantly notes that: (a) Malcolm X often gave speeches at the corner of 125th Street and 7th Avenue; (b) Blumstein's department store on 125th Street in Harlem was the site of picketing in a 1934 “Don't Buy Where You Can't Work” campaign, a defining moment in the political career of Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.; (c) Bobby Robinson's shop, bought in 1946, was the first black-owned business on 125th Street; (d) W.E.B. DuBois, the distinguished scholar, teacher, and writer, had an office at 139 West 125th Street; (e) the 125th Street Branch Library, first opened in 1904, was designed by the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White; (f) the Apollo Theater on 125th Street opened its doors to African-American patrons in 1934 for the first time, and a young Billie Holiday was one of its first amateur night performers; (g) Hotel Theresa, once called the “Waldorf of Harlem”, has hosted celebrities and world dignitaries, and was designated as a city landmark in 1993; (h) Harlem poet, Langston Hughes, opened the Harlem Suitcase Theater in 1937 above Frank's restaurant on 125th Street; (i) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1958, was stabbed in Blumstein's Department Store on 125th Street while signing copies of his new book, Stride Towards Freedom, and was taken to Harlem Hospital for surgery; and (j) British troops fought George Washington's soldiers in the battle of Harlem Heights in 1776, but only advanced as far as where 125th Street is today before the Americans drove them back.
The Council recognizes the current threat of the destabilization of this historically important neighborhood and the imminent erosion of its cultural heritage, as the community is gradually converting into a casualty of gentrification. The Council recognizes that a disregard for Harlem's indigenous businesses and affordable rent rates will result in a complete dissolution of Harlem's historical character, causing the city of New York, in particular, and the United States of America, in general, to incur a truly irreplaceable loss. Thus, the Council hereby declares that it is imperative that steps be taken to safeguard the historical, social, and cultural heritage of the Harlem community.