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Posts in Bronx
Inclusive Archiving, Public Art, and Representation at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans

Inclusive Archiving, Public Art, and Representation at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans

By Cynthia Tobar

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, created in 1900, was the first monument of its kind that sought the active involvement of Americans in nominating their favorite "Great Americans.” The Hall was conceived of by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University (NYU), who envisioned a democratic election process for selecting these greats modeled after presidential elections. Nominations came to the election center and after a person received a certain number of votes, an NYU Senate of 100 voters made the final choice. The Senate was composed of American leaders: past American presidents, presidents of colleges, senators, and men of renown in various fields. Problems soon arose, however, when this initial process yielded 29 nominees, all male. The lack of women created a scandal and in the next election eight women were elected (currently, there are 11 women in the Hall). However, the contentious nomination of Robert E. Lee remained.

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Urban Ornithology: 150 Years of Birds in New York City

Urban Ornithology: 150 Years of Birds in New York City

Reviewed by Leslie Day

I lived on a boat on the Hudson River in Manhattan from 1975 to 2011 and it was then that I became an avid birder. Living on the Hudson I watched canvasback ducks with their beautiful red heads arrive each winter in huge numbers in the 1980’s. And I observed them as their numbers diminished greatly after the 1990’s. When I first moved to the river there were many laughing gulls that migrated to the city each April. My father’s birthday was April 12th, around the time they’d show up. The happy sound of their calls would bring me running outside to my deck to look at them and hear the joyous cries — my harbinger of the beautiful warm months to come. By the time I moved away in 2011, there were just a few arriving each spring.

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Carol Lamberg's Neighborhood Success Stories: Creating and Sustaining Affordable Housing in New York

Carol Lamberg's Neighborhood Success Stories: Creating and Sustaining Affordable Housing in New York

Reviewed by Nicholas Dagen Bloom

Building and operating subsidized housing in New York City is a tough business. Carol Lamberg, a master at the trade, offers us a candid and nuanced account of the perils and promise of this enterprise in her readable autobiographical account, Neighborhood Success Stories. Lamberg, who served for decades as the Executive Director of the Settlement Housing Fund, helped build the organization into one of the most respected affordable developers and managers in the city, with outstanding multi-family properties in the Bronx and Lower East Side.


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Days of Future Past: Dystopian Comics and the Privatized City

Days of Future Past: Dystopian Comics and the Privatized City

By Ryan Donovan Purcell

“The past: a New and uncertain world, a world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. Countless choices define our fate — each choice, each moment, a ripple in the river of time — Enough ripples and you change the tide, for the future is never truly set.” This is the lesson Dr. Xavier learns at the end of the Marvel film, X-Men: Days of Future Past(2014). It’s a science-fiction alternative history in which the X-Men send Logan (Wolverine) back to the year 1973 to change their fate. In order to prevent the sequence of events that leads to mutant annihilation Logan must break into the Pentagon, prevent a landmark arms deal at the Paris Peace Accords, and save Richard Nixon from mutant radicals (as one might expect). The comic on which the film was based, however, is a far different story.

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The Gould Memorial Library: A Forgotten Stanford White Gem in the Bronx

The Gould Memorial Library: A Forgotten Stanford White Gem in the Bronx

By Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

The Gould Memorial Library in the Bronx may be the most famous building in New York City that you’ve never heard of. It recently made an appearance in The Greatest Showman, the 2018 Hugh Jackman musical about the life of P. T. Barnum, as the setting for a glorious party, but unless you know what you’re looking at, you’d think it was an elaborate Hollywood stage set—not a library.

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After the Rent Strike: Neoliberalism and Co-op City

After the Rent Strike: Neoliberalism and Co-op City

By Annemarie Sammartino

In mid-1976, a provisional settlement awarded control of Co-op City to its residents. Co-op City was, and is, a 15,382 apartment middle-income development located in the Northeast Bronx. The achievement of resident control represented the culmination of negotiations following a thirteen-month rent strike that destroyed the non-profit United Housing Foundation (UHF) that had built Co-op City and nearly bankrupted the New York State Housing Finance Agency. As the terms of the provisional settlement began to come out, the Wall Street Journal was apoplectic about what awarding resident control might mean:

If the state wants to regain its financial credibility, it will have, to put it brutally, to make an example of the Co-op City rent strikers… The state may find… that the rent strike will collapse after the first tenants lose their apartments. But in any case, it will be more humane to throw people out into the June sunshine than into the December snow.

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Advocacy and Memory at the Hall of Fame For Great Americans

Advocacy and Memory at the Hall of Fame For Great Americans

By Kate Culkin

“I am a little frightened by what is necessary to elect Miss Lillian D. Wald but am determined to do all I can to bring the election of this great lady, deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame,” Aaron Rabinowitz wrote in October 1964. He was referring to his campaign to elect Wald, the public health advocate who founded the Visiting Nurse Service and the Henry Street Settlement, to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Dedicated in 1900 and designed by Stanford White, the monument was the first hall of fame in the United States. The open-air colonnade with spaces for 102 busts is located at Bronx Community College (BCC), formally home to New York University’s University Heights campus. In August 2017, it was thrust into a national conversation about commemoration in the wake of the riots in Charlottesville, VA, over the removal of confederate monuments. News reports and city and state politicians condemned the presence of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee in the hall. The school removed the busts and is considering how to address their presence and removal. The conversation around the monument, however, more commonly focuses on its being old-fashioned and in need of repair, such as the 2009 New York Times article “A Hall of Fame: Forgotten and Forlorn.”

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Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

By Craig Lee

In an unexpected but deft move, Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect at the Bronx Museum of Arts (November 8, 2017 to April 8, 2018) begins in the lobby above the XM Café — a partnership with Fountain House, a community program supporting people with mental illness. Upon entering the museum, accessible to all through the free admission policy, visitors turn and see an open seating area filled with tables and chairs with the café’s food and beverage service counter against the back wall. Above, where one might find a menu display board, instead is the introductory wall panel for the exhibition. Rather than providing a comprehensive survey of Gordon Matta-Clark’s too brief (he died of pancreatic cancer in 1978 at 35 years of age), but prolific and influential creative practice in the 1970s, the exhibition is tightly organized around a handful of key projects and explorations.

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Grassroots Anti-Crack Activism in the Northwest Bronx

Grassroots Anti-Crack Activism in the Northwest Bronx

By Noël K. Wolfe

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Bronx was a national symbol of urban decay, used as a political backdrop to send messages of despair, governmental failure, the decline of urban spaces and other racialized messages of fear. Drug addiction and drug selling became a national, state, and local political battleground that reflected differing political ideologies. Even at the community level, a tension existed within New York City neighborhoods about how best to respond to drug crises. In 1969, New York Black Panther Party member Michael “Cetewayo” Tabor warned Harlemites about the long-term implications of inviting police, who he described as “alien hostile troops,” into their community to address heroin addiction and drug-related crime. While Tabor did not deny that those addicted to heroin were committing “most of their robberies, burglaries and thefts in the Black community against Black people,” he challenged community members to be suspicious of the motives behind “placing more pigs in the ghetto.” Tabor sought a community-driven solution to heroin addiction — one that did not include the police. Similarly in the Bronx, members of the Young Lords Party responded to heroin addiction by occupying the administrative offices of Lincoln Hospital in November 1970 and successfully demanding a drug treatment program for community members. The Lincoln Hospital Detox Program, a “community-worker controlled program,” paired political education with therapeutic support to assist those seeking help to overcome addiction.

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