[Marxism] "rebuilding" Harlem
schaffer at optonline.net
Fri Jun 13 11:23:18 MDT 2008
leave it to the NY Times to portray fear as "mixed feelings"and a
longing for "what they knew" ... Les
Mixed Feelings as Change Overtakes 125th St.
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
It isn’t news that just two or three years ago, Harlem had a paucity of
bank branches, grocery stores and other basic amenities, or that now
that more affluent people have started to move there, upscale shops and
restaurants have followed.
But change can have surprising results. While welcoming safer, cleaner
streets, longtime residents have found themselves juggling conflicting
emotions. And those who enjoyed a measure of stability in the old Harlem
now long for the past — not necessarily because it was better but
because it was what they knew.
“The majority of the stores, the 99-cent stores, they’re gone,” said
Gwen Walker, 55, a longtime resident of the General Grant Houses in West
Harlem, giving one view. “The Laundromat on the corner is gone. The
bodegas are gone. There’s large delis now. What had been two for $1 is
now one for $3. My neighbor is a beer drinker, and he drinks inexpensive
beer, Old English or Colt 45 or Coors — you can’t even buy that in the
stores. The stores have imported beers from Germany. The foods being
sold — feta cheese instead of sharp Cheddar cheese. That’s a whole other
The psychological hold Harlem has on African-Americans has endured even
as the neighborhood’s devolution became so complete that between about
1960 and 1990, Harlem had lost a third of its population and half of its
She said they speculated that by then, they will have been relocated to
“a rural area in the Bronx” — even though a city housing project would
seem to be safe from gentrification. “Change is good, and progress is
inevitable,” she said. “But the feeling is, ‘What are we going to do?
Where are we going to go?’”
During the past several months, Harlem residents have sought to slow the
pace of change via lawsuits, protests, calls for economic boycotts,
public denunciations of elected officials and town-hall-style meetings
with names like “The State of Black Harlem.” A large march and rally
that organizers say will be “against displacement and gentrification” is
scheduled for the neighborhood on June 21.
Apprehension about gentrification has become a constant, and is now a
common theme at Sunday church services and a standard topic of
conversation in barber shops and beauty salons, on street corners, in
bars, at public housing community rooms and among the doormen of the
neighborhood’s new condominium buildings. This spring, there have been
as many as three or four community meetings each week in which
gentrification has been discussed — and roundly denounced.
Social service organizations in the neighborhood said that they have
noted an uptick in clients complaining about insomnia and hypertension
related to fears about losing their homes, even when there is no
indication that they will be evicted.
Then, last month, the City Council approved another significant change:
the rezoning of 125th Street, Harlem’s central artery, to allow for
high-rise office towers and some 2,100 new market-rate condominiums.
About 70 small businesses might be closed and some residents displaced.
In East Harlem, East River Plaza, a $300 million shopping mall anchored
by Home Depot, is being built on the site of a long-abandoned wire
factory. Two blocks away, glass-walled $1 million condominiums are
rising next to six-story tenement buildings.
Earlier this year, the average price for new condominium apartments in
Harlem hit $900,000, although average household income remains less than
The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, senior pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist
Church, one of Harlem’s oldest black churches, said that people feel
powerless when they see change that they believe is not intended to
“There are great developments going on,” said Pastor Curtis. “You can
see things in your sight, but they’re just out of reach.”
More information about the Marxism