Tour Guide: Greg Baggett · Start Location: Frederick Douglass Circle · 2 Hours · 1.5 Miles
In the rezoning of Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, growth and diversification—gentrification—was not imposed on an unwitting community by unscrupulous developers or opportunistic outsiders, but rather it was imposed on the community from within, from the community’s grassroots. This walking tour discusses the logic and strategy behind a plan framed within a vision of community "progress,” but it was actually a tool to weaponize competing class interest: how one public land process along a single avenue brought about change that resulted in the displacement of almost all of the area’s long-term residents and small businesses along the streets and even the neighboring avenues. Using calculators on our smartphones, the participants on this tour reckon with the deep ideological problem that prompted Harlem's political establishment, community-based organizations, middle-class, and even low-income shareholders in limited-equity cooperatives to produce outcomes that benefited the few and threatened the many.
Themes Covered: Zoning, Rezoning & Upzoning, Displacement & Dysplacement, Progress, Gentrification, Housing Development Fund Companies (HDFCs), Central Harlem South (SOHA) Controversy, Housing Loopholes: Major Capital Improvements, Individual Apartment Improvements, Preferential Rents, Vacancy Bonus, Vacancy DeControl.
Sites Covered: Frederick Douglass Circle, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, Frederick Douglass Boulevard, West 116th Street, New construction, HDFC Cooperatives, Graham Court, Row Houses, A. Philip Randolph Houses, Wadleigh Secondary High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Harlem Hebrew Language School, Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, Minton’s (formerly Minton’s) Playhouse, Central Harlem South, First Corinthian Baptist Church, A. Philip Randolph Square, HCCI preservation project, Harriet Tubman Monument