Washington Heights Through the Decades | Rutgers Today

By Lawrence Lerner

Crossing Broadway - Washington Heights - Robert W. Snyder

Robert Snyder has a deep connection to Washington Heights, the neighborhood near the northern tip of Manhattan between 155th and 190th.

The Rutgers University–Newark historian was born in 1955 and lived there for a year. And though his parents moved the family to the New Jersey suburbs in 1956, Snyder grew up on stories of his old neighborhood, a place they described affectionately as great for working people, rich with urban amenities. As a teenager in the 1960s and ’70s, he took occasional walks through the western section of Washington Heights, convinced it was still a happy place.

But in 1980, he returned to do an oral history project, only to find a different story: residents fearful of crime and ill at ease with their Spanish-speaking neighbors. In 1983, an elderly woman was murdered 10 blocks from his parents’ old house. Three years later, U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani and U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato ventured into the neighborhood, in disguise, to demonstrate the ease of buying crack cocaine there. In 1989, Snyder went back to study how crime reporting depicted his old neighborhood, going on police patrols in drug-infested areas donning a bullet-proof vest.

Snyder wondered where his parents’ idyllic neighborhood had gone.

“I’d hoped to write a book about Washington Height for many years but didn’t want to write a story about my parents’ old home with a sad ending,” says Snyder. “It was hard to see a bright future for the neighborhood.”

Read more: Washington Heights Through the Decades | Media Relations.


Put You On: Onomatopeyas Dominicanas Parte 3 (Episodio Dos)

DR Parade Flag (more…)

In Full Flower | Manhattan Times

Story by Sherry Mazzocchi

Flor De Tolache

The band’s seven members hail from all over the world.

Flor de Toloache is New York City’s only all-women mariachi band.

It might be its best.

The seven-member group is known for spectacular harmonies and sparkling instrumentation. Their sound is grounded in traditional mariachi music, with hints of cumbia, hip-hop and blues.

They can be heard throughout the city, including at such diverse uptown venues such as Le Chéile Bar and Restaurant, El Museo del Barrio and Pregones Theater.

And on April 4, the band officially rolls out their debut album at the new downtown club Subrosa. Of the 10 songs, five are classics like “Si Se Calla el Cantor” and a heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of “La Llorona.” The rest are original tunes by co-founders Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol.

Both women came from musical families.

Ramos grew up in Puerto Rico with her Mexican father and Dominican mother. When she wasn’t listening to José Alfredo Jiménez, Mercedes Sosa and Stevie Wonder, she’d watch her father perform mariachi in the family’s Mexican restaurant.

Read more: In Full Flower | Manhattan Times

Check out: Flor de Toloache @ Le Chéile


The Fort George Tunnel Collapse: A 1903 NYC Subway Construction Disaster | My Inwood

By Cole Thompson


Tunneling the subway through Fort George Hill, The Century Illustrated Magazine, 1902.

October 24, 1903

Timothy Sullivan glanced at his watch. It was minutes before ten o’clock. The sliver of a new moon dangled above the camp.

“Back to work boys,” the Irishman shouted as he gestured toward the ragged hole at the base of Fort George Hill.

Sullivan, a construction foreman for New York’s ambitious subway system, was in charge of the northern end of a deep tunnel project that would soon stream mass transit riders beneath Washington Heights. The tunnel would forever change the rural nature of northern Manhattan—with its stables, red brick schoolhouse and quaint country church. Soon the farm-strewn Inwood valley would be connected to downtown. Speculators were already erecting apartment houses along Dyckman Street.

The project was a tremendous endeavor. Miners with work experience all over the world signed on for the job. They spoke in underground jargon and swapped tales of operations in Colorado, Johannesburg, the Klondike and Siberia. Not one of the men referred to the work before them as a tunnel—below ground everyone called it the “mine.” When completed it would be the second largest two-track tunnel ever constructed in the United States—surpassed only by the Hoosac tunnel in western Massachusetts.

The dangerous conditions created by the unpredictable Hudson schist—called “bastard granite” by the workers—and recent heavy rains, caused all sorts of delays.  Three crews worked round-the-clock, in eight-hour shifts, to make up lost time.   General contractor John B. McDonald took a personal interest in the work. McDonald was familiar with the region, having attended Public School 52, just blocks from the tunnel entrance.

Read more: The Fort George Tunnel Collapse: A 1903 NYC Subway Construction Disaster.


With Eagles Sighted, a Proposal Takes Flight | NY Times


Eagles - Inwood Hill Park

Eagles on the Hudson River next to Inwood Hill Park in northern Manhattan, where the ice floes serve as a perch for hunting for fish. (Photo: Andy Partridge)

At midlife, Mandy Hicks and Andy Partridge, childhood friends from North Yorkshire, England, struck up a romance. To celebrate her 52nd birthday last week, they made their first visit to New York, in time for some of the coldest weather on record.

More than once, it crossed Mr. Partridge’s mind that he ought to propose marriage. “I couldn’t get the right moment,” he said. A Valentine’s Day harbor cruise seemed like the perfect occasion, but another couple onboard beat him to it and announced their engagement. They went to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden — “it was on my bucket list,” Mr. Partridge said — but before he could get the words out of his mouth, yet another pair announced on the scoreboard they were going to get married.

Last Wednesday, walking through Central Park, they spotted a red-tailed hawk, and a park ranger named Rob Mastrianni stopped to chat. Over the weekend, he said, he’d be leading a tour in northern Manhattan to watch for hawks and bald eagles. “Seeing a bald eagle was also on my bucket list,” Mr. Partridge said. “I’ve been called the Bald Eagle since I was — I guess since I was 14, when I started losing my hair. I thought, if I see an eagle, I’ll propose.”

Read more:  With Eagles Sighted, a Proposal Takes Flight – NYTimes.com.


Malcolm X’s Public Speaking Power | WNYC

By Gwen Thompkins

Malcolm X Speech in Harlem

Malcolm X addresses a rally in Harlem in New York City on June 29, 1963. (AP)

From what people remember, he fell like a tree. Malcolm X — all 6 feet, 4 inches of him — had taken a shotgun blast to the chest and a grouping of smaller-caliber bullets to the torso while onstage at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on Feb. 21, 1965. After a ghastly moment of stasis, he careened backward. His head hit the floor with a crack.

A detail that witnesses often omit, in part because it seems more of an afterthought given the circumstances, is that Malcolm X never got to say what he’d gone to the Audubon Ballroom to say.

He’d arrived, by all accounts, grumpy — critical, irritable, hectoring. The week before, his Long Island home had been firebombed. The Nation of Islam, which owned the house, promptly evicted him from the cinders and, way down in the winter of 1965, his family was homeless. What’s more, Malcolm X, like the mythical Cassandra, sensed that death was near. He believed that his former brothers in the Nation were plotting to kill him. In the meantime, Malcolm X’s nascent organizations, called Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, were too young to survive without him. And to add a rancid cherry to this rotten parfait, his guest speaker at the Audubon Ballroom had canceled.

Read more: Malcolm X’s Public Speaking Power | WNYC3


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