Places that Matter

Metro North Community

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Photo by Elis Shin, 2012
Photo by Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Elis Shin, 2012
Tenement neighborhood rebuilt with new affordable housing
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Place Matters Profile

This district in East Harlem, from E. 99th Street to E. 108th Street and Third Avenue to the East River, was one of the first tenement neighborhoods in New York City to rebuild itself with new low- and moderate-income housing, rehabilitated buildings, a new school and a park. Millie Ryan Feliciano, Secretary of Metro North Citizen's Committee in 1963, remembers the community's struggle: "In order to get the city to come out, we had to do something drastic. So we decided to have a funeral march for the 'tragic four,' a group of derelict buildings on East 100th Street (known then as one of the worst blocks in all of New York). Nick the florist donated four wreaths and Blake Hobbs led the Union Settlement marching band. The march stopped in front of each building, we placed a wreath on the door, had a moment of silence, and the band played Taps. At one building, a tenant came out and said, "Who died?" I said, "You did." We got some press in the New York Times, and then we got a meeting with Mayor Wagner, after five years of trying to get the city to listen."