It was hardly a mistake when the arresting photograph was selected for the cover of Harlem Lost and Found ten years ago. Paul Rocheleau's image depicts the very heart of Sugar Hill, where aristocracy have always lived. From far below this lofty elevation, whether Irish immigrants, or African American participants in the 'Great Migration', many have gazed upward with wistful admiration, imagining that here, in fine houses, life must be sweetly trouble-free. This was supposed to be so, because folks who lived on the hill, had plenty of 'doe, ray, me', the sweetness that makes the world go around.
Constant with narratives of the American Dream, are unlikely luck, unexpected misfortune and outstanding outcomes.
The circus showman famed as James A. Bailey, was born James Anthony McGinnis in Detroit, Michigan on Independence Day. One of seven children, orphaned during childhood, making a phenomenal success, he died at just 58.
According to circus historian A. H. Saxon, sent to live with his married eldest sister Catharine, young McGinnis was frequently beaten. Like many a 'penny dreadful' hero before, understandably enough, eventually James ran away. He found work and safe-haven as a bellhop at a hotel in Pontiac, Michigan.
One summer a one-ring circus owner came to Pontiac. James met the general manager, Fred Harrison Bailey who hired him to post circus bills around town. James began to work regularly for Fred Bailey, who befriended and encouraged him. In gratitude for Bailey's kindness, James McGinnis took the older man's surname.
In 1868 Bailey married Ruth Louisa McCaddon of Zanesville, Ohio, and in time bought an interest in a circus that came to be known as Cooper and Bailey. In 1880 Bailey decided to challenge his most serious competitor. Boldly he took his circus to P.T. Barnum's home-territory, Bridgeport, Connecticut. Here Bailey's circus outsold Barnum's, taking in $2 to every $1 of Barnum's show. Rather than compete head-to-head, Barnum proposed a merger. Bailey took over management of business affairs, while Barnum worked on presenting ever greater feats of showmanship.
Together the two created "the greatest show on earth." Yet for all of Barnum’s identification with razzle-dazzle, it was actually Bailey who paid $10,000 to the London Zoo for Jumbo the elephant. Enormous publicity followed the sale, with the press weighing in on whether the British should have let their "treasure" go. In 1882 when Jumbo finally walked up Broadway and across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, tens of thousands of people came out to see him.
In ill health, advised by his doctor to retire, Bailey started making plans for his dream house in 1884. An ardent admirer of horses, he is said to have chosen what by now was being called Washington Heights because St. Nicholas Avenue was a traditional route for racing and due to the proximity of the newly projected ‘speedway’, a public highway built by taxpayers along the Harlem River, given over as a place where the elite could drag race .
Ca. 1903: The Harlem River Speedway.
1909: St. Nicholas Place's double row of vaulting elms.
Ca. 1895: Dr. J. Gardener Smith parked in his sleigh outside 10 St. Nicholas Place.
An example of how strong ties linked Harlem’s German-speaking residents, Nicholas C. and Agnes Benziger’s house at 345 Edgecombe Avenue was devised in 1890-91, by William Schickel. A Swiss native, Mr. Benziger’s family supplied missals, candles, and other ecclesiastical goods for Roman Catholic Churches. All-but astylar externally, replete with stained glass portraits of their children and Swiss-Gothic style furniture, the dining room was also custom designed by Schickel. From around 1914-1940, the Benziger house functioned as the psychiatric ward of Dr. Lloyd's Sanatorium. During the 1940's it was a daycare center attended by Sylvia Waters. The view from St. Nicholas Place illustrates why residents of the Harlem Valley long imagined that people on 'the hill' lived the 'sweet life'.
Like the Disney Castle, integrating iconic elements of the Chateauesque style with aspects of the Romanesque, constructed between 1886-1888, according to plans drawn by architect Samuel Burrage Reed, showman James A. Bailey’s stone mansion occupied five building lots and cost $80,000.
Ca. 1888: Number 10 St. Nicholas Place from West 150th Street.
Ca. 1890: Mrs. James Anthony Bailey on her front porch at 10 St. Nicholas Place.
Outfitted with animal skins and trophies, as well as curios collected in his travels with the circus, the most salient element of Bailey’s house were pictorial stained glass mosaic windows. They were produced by the Belcher Mosaic Glass Company in Irvington, New Jersey by Henry F. Belcher. His breakthrough in stained glass assembly allowed tiny pieces of glass to be “fastened” together without the use of lead came. Sandwiching tiny pieces of glass between two sheets of heavy plate glass, then pouring in a molten amalgam of metal to fuse together all the pieces, allowed for great latitude and original designs with a careful use of color-phasing, subtly shading the palette from dark to light .
A stylized sunrise.
In the tower a ship's lantern is suspended from a sunburst.
A Mott bathtub in a marble lined bathroom.
As innovative as Belcher’s glass was technically, aesthetically it is a far cry from work by better known makers like, Louis Tiffany and John LaFarge, Jr., whose more laborious technique it conceptually imitated.
A second cousin, once removed, of Louis Comfort Tiffany of the Associated Artists, decorator Joseph Burr Tiffany, was similarly, a less able, less inventive creative force. Beside the Bailey house he undertook commissions from Vice President Levi P. Morton, for Morton’s wife’s relation, living next door at Wilderstein in Poughkeepsie and for wire manufacture Chester Wickwire at Courtland, New York.
Constructed between 1886-1888, according to plans drawn by architect Samuel Burrage Reed, Bailey’s stone mansion occupied five building lots and cost $80,000. Integrating elements of the Chateauesque style with aspects of Romanesque: round arches, towers and stained glass, on completion it had an immediate impact. Passing by on business trip to New York City in June 1888, Chester Wickwire, an industrialist from Courtland, New York who manufactured wire products, admired what he saw. Seeking and gaining permission to copy the house at number 10, engaging Reed as his designer, Tiffany as decorator and Belcher to supply stained glass, Wickwire erected a mirror image replica.
Chester and Ardell Wickwire, out for a drive.
On June 1, 1890, after 18 months of intensive laboring, Chester Wickwire, his wife Ardell, and their young sons, Charles and Frederic, eagerly moved into their splendid new residence. It had only come about because a poor farm boy, who had already done better than he hoped by opening a general store, did far better after he accepted a wire weaving loom in lieu of payment for groceries. Augmenting this gadgetry to produce barbed wire and chicken wire in addition to wire mesh, powering his machines with steam, Wickwire became a colossus in his field.
A distinctive decoration added to the new Courtland showplace he built, which currently serves as the city’s 1890 House Museum, is the woven wire design, embossed on doorknobs, latches, hinges and other hardware. This unusual motif provides a unique personal accent that served as a visual reminder of the industrial success that made such a regal house possible.
If the Wickwire house that copied James Bailey's house was enshrined and protected as a museum, racism and other negative circumstances ordained that number 10 St. Nicholas Place became a funeral home with quarters for the operators upstairs. A fate hardly uncommon for Victorian mansions-turned-white-elephants located in urban centers, this circumstance need not have forecast a dreadful scenario. Alas, as the social fabric that supported elegant living on St. Nicholas Place and Avenue began to unravel, with the arrival of a new subway in the 1920’s, with African Americans following on the A-Train's opening, it did.
As a 16-year-old, Marguerite Marshall, who loved the movies, inexplicably, dreamed of helping make people beautiful. Her talented mother danced at the Cotton Club, but she wanted to become a plastic surgeon. Imagine a woman, an African-American woman, becoming a plastic surgeon in the late 1930s!
Marge also used to walk past the extraordinary, 30-room limestone house at 10 St. Nicholas Place, at the corner of 150th Street, built by circus showman James Anthony Bailey. With her Wadleigh High School friends, Nellie and Edith, she'd dream about what it would be like to live there. One day, she impulsively rang the bell and asked the owner, Dr. Franz Koempel, and his wife Bertha, if she could have the right of first refusal if the house was ever sold. Koempel, the third person to own the house, was famous internationally as a pioneering X-ray specialist. A founder of the Steuben Society, he and his wife spent each summer at their villa in Bavaria.
2000: Marguerite Marshall and Warren Blake.
Several years later a ''For Sale'' sign appeared on the Koempel's lawn, and Marge rang the bell again, reminding the owner of her promise. The widowed Bertha Koempel happily conceded that an understanding existed, but she insisted that any acquisition must also include two shingled houses north of hers, which had been acquired years earlier to protect the house's light and air. The asking price was $86,000, just $6,000 more than number 10 had cost to erect in 1888. It was an astonishing amount for most blacks of the period.
Marge, her husband Warren, an early black police officer, and her parents, pooled their resources. ''There was a lot of scraping around and getting it together, but I got the house,'' she later recalled.
Marguerite Marshall Blake lived there from 1951 until 2007, operating a funeral home on the ground floor since 1955.
This was how one of New York's most extraordinary landmarks was saved from total destruction. Subsequently the Blakes were inundated by offers to buy their house, inevitably from whites. Warren felt that these prospective buyers were often motivated, at least in part, by a feeling that their house was "too good, too special for blacks to own."
This magnificent structure, then, is his and Marge's enduring monument. Thanks to them, generations not yet born will be able to enjoy this gift from our past to the future, and the true hero of this story, of course, is the beautiful, kind and ingenious lady, Marguerite Marshall Blake. All of us who knew her were blessed, and, through her foresight, she blesses everyone, forever!
A tragic ingredient of the Blake's grand life on St. Nicholas Place and at the modernistic country house they built with a pool on the highest point at Sag Harbor, was their isolation. Not merely as prosperous African Americans who had done so much better than many they grew up with, but as spouses, who were loving and giving, but unable to have children, their life was proscribed.
Initially a pair of German Shepards were deemed as suitable pets to keep Marge company during the long days when Warren was away keeping others safe. There was nothing particularly odd about the Blake's first two dogs, nor about Marguerite's old-world custom of collecting golden bangles and chains to adorn her wrist and forearms. Were they meant as more than mere tokens of Warren's devotion? Did they come to represent compensation for the lack of their children's laughter, for long, dull, lonely absences when Warren was working? By the time these diamond studded ornaments reached past her elbow, they must have had some more complex significance than just jangling accessories. And after they were stolen, at shotgun point, by two thieves posing as bereaved clients, something else changed. For fear of offending customers, heretofore, as when the thieves came, the dogs were always locked away. No more. They were allowed to follow Marge everywhere and they were allowed to inbreed and multiply. Much like Queen Elizabeth and her yelping pack of Corgis, Marge had a pack of indulged pets as well.
The role the Blake's dogs played in gradual but precipitous diminution and deterioration of their once impeccable home was immense. Clawing parquetry, chewing balustrades, fouling the atmosphere and warping baseboards with waste, infesting the house with flees from attic to cellar, they helped to dull its luster, lending number 10 an undeniable Grey Gardens-like air. As their friend, I suffered. Hearing, how one of her pets had bitten Marge as she fed him part of the soufflé she'd brought to share from the Tavern on the Green, or how another had destroyed her favorite pair of Prada pumps, was frustrating: should I call the Health Department? Yes! That was the response of several friends, but even as inured to the appeal of dogs as I was, knowing how Marge and Warren felt about dogs they called, 'our kids', I couldn't. Then, knocking over a lamp, the dogs set the house afire. It was around 2,000. The Fire Department were as usual, unduly destructive, but overall the house was saved.
I ought to have anticipated that my efforts to get the Historic House Trust interested in acquiring the Blakes' house and allowing them lifetime tenancy, would be misconstrued. Dealing with the elderly, negotiating the disposition and safeguarding of their treasured possessions, needs deft tact and continuous work to work out. In the end, even then, even if one is a member of the family, there's still no guarantee of success.
The view from Sugar Hill.
Suffering from dementia by the time Warren died, I worried about Marge. In a way, the illness spared her a great deal she'd have suffered otherwise. She'd been provided for, but what was to become of the house that had stopped her in her tracks so many decades before? By now it was in desperate need of a major intervention. Its superior size, circus provenance, the intact stained glass and remnants of Tiffany decor, all supported the impressive $10,000,000 price tag. But the decayed appearance, evidence of leaks and unrepaired fire department damage, and even masked by disinfectants and air fresheners, the pervasive, tell-tell smell made multi-millions unsupportable. Down and down went the price. Prospective buyers simply were unable to see beyond the funk, damage and disarray. As with the Quinns at Grey Gardens, it was going to take a visionary to save 10 St. Nicholas Place.
Affordability and insight were what Jie and Martin Spollen brought to the table. Placing their $1,500,000 bid, they won an ill-treated, but they well realized, salvageable treasure, one unable to be replicated at any cost, but capable with careful planing of restoration. With painstaking devotion they are investing a fortune in time and money to restore what was with the utmost authentic fidelity.
A pair of attached houses, designed to be read as a single imposing villa, number 14 and 16 St. Nicholas Place, built between 1883-83, were designed by William Milne Grinnell who lived nearby in Audubon Park. Various rustic materials, including rock-faced schist excavated from the cellar and wood shingles, along with features like a tower and porches contribute to a suburban sensibility.
Costing $10,000 each they were erected for developer James Montieth who promptly died. Number 14 was acquired in 1893 by educator and publisher A. Thomas Alexander. For many years number 16 was occupied by spinster Emmeline Reiner, a woman of independent means with property worth $250,000. Her sister Mrs. Augustus A. Adams and Mrs. Adams' family Lived here with her.
Starting in 1938, with her husband, educator James Egbert Allen, Dr. Alma Mary Haskins, who was one of only two woman, and the only African-American woman, practicing podiatry in New York City in the mid-twentieth century, lived at number 16. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, James Allen, who had received degrees from Smith University, City College, and New York University taught in New York City public schools and was a tireless advocate for establishing Black History Week to celebrate African American attainment.
Part of the Koempel estate bought by Marguerite Marshall Blake in 1950, today both houses at 14 and 16 St. Nicholas Place again have a single owner. Much as the deterioration of number 10 helped make it affordable, following a widespread fire at number 14, through the heroic efforts of local historian Lana Turner, longtime resident Francis Redhead was able to affordably purchase 14 and 16 together. It’s no exaggeration to say Mr. Redhead's ongoing restoration efforts have been as extensive and admirable as the Spollen’s.
The Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer and Maunsell van Rensselaer , Jr., residences, numbers 22-24 St. Nicholas Place.
One of St. Nicholas Place’s grandest houses, was in fact again two, numbers 22-24, yet another double dwelling, designed to appear to be a single imposing residence. Built in 1885 for the Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer and his son, Maunsell van Rensselaer , Jr., the towered, turreted, multi-gabled Queen Anne style house with several porches, was designed by Carl Pfeiffer.
In his family history, "Annals of the Van Rensselaers in the United States… ", the Rev. Dr. van Rensselaer establishes the longstanding sentimental attachment his family had to rolling acres in the vicinity surrounding his new home. This book shows how intimately they were connected to Harlem Heights and the elite families who lived here. Relating how his parents John Sanders van Rensselaer and Ann Dunkin, came to first meet, the Episcopal clergyman wrote of his father,
His favorite cousin, Catharine Sanders, had married Mr. Gerard Beekman of New York, and her sister-in-law, Mrs. James Beekman, had a beautiful niece named Ann Dunkin. She was the only daughter of Robert Henry Dunkin of Philadelphia, and Elizabeth, daughter of John Watkins of Harlem Heights. Her father was dead, and, although her home was in Philadelphia, where her grandmother, Mrs. Ann Dunkin, resided, she spent much of her time with her grandmother, Mrs. Watkins, at Harlem, and with her great-aunt at the same place, the widow of Lieutenant-General Maunsell.
Her aunt Beekman lived near them in " The Vale " under " Breakneck Hill," before Mr. Beekman succeeded to " The Mount." The circle of relatives and neighbors was large, embracing the Watkinses, the Bradhursts, the Schieffelins, the Hamiltons, the Moores, the Clarks and others who have passed away. The intercourse between the country and the city was frequent, and during one of his visits to his cousin in town the acquaintance was formed which ripened into an attachment and engagement, which gave great satisfaction to the kindred on both sides. My mother was a great favorite with all for her amiable disposition and engaging qualities.
Being the only granddaughter of Mrs. Ann Dunkin, after whom she had been named, she was especially cherished by her, and had been given the best advantages which her native city, Philadelphia, afforded — and they were not small even at that day — including instruction in the mysteries of the housewife and the arts of the pastry-cook. She wrote a remarkable distinct and lady-like hand, and her letters were models of clearness, sincerity and good sense.
Ca. 1815: John Vanderlyn’s Mrs. John van Rensselaer, the Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer’s mother. Taken from a portrait by Thomas Sully, the print on the right shows Mrs. van Rensselaer's mother, Mrs. Dunkin, with her young son, the Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer's brother.
Ca. 1895: the Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer.
The Rev. Dr. Maunsell van Rensselaer and Maunsell van Rensselaer , Jr., residences, numbers 22-24 St. Nicholas Place. Before their untimely demolition in 1906 , the houses served for six years as a private girls school.
Number 401 West 153rd Street was built in the mid 1880's for Frederick Nelson Dubois, principle of a leading wholesale plumbing supplier. The last free-standing private house to survive on the north end of St. Nicholas Place, it was demolished in 1930 to make way for the neo-Gothic style apartment house designed by architect Horace Ginsberg at 66-74 St. Nicholas Place. The notable author, poet, and writer, Langston Hughes would leas a studio apartment hide-away here from 1937 to 1941.
Predominating on St. Nicholas Avenue, speculative row houses were the exception on St. Nicholas Place. Here, specially commissioned suburban style villas, picturesquely designed as distinctive structures were the rule. Comming up with exceptions, naturally, any architect would want to imagine row houses like no others, that emulated individual houses and were given distinguishing treatments.
Trained in the office of Richard Upjohn, facile designer Clarence True in turn helped to prepare William Van Alen, architect of the inovative Chrysler Building. A key figure in the move to make New York row houses better planned and more convenient, early 1893 True spoke on the subject of domestic architecture with an editor at The Real Estate Record and Guide. He declared that he considered the money spent on the usual high stoop, wasted — half the cost of the entire front — and derided the standard brownstones as “mostly bad copies of the Farnese Palace” that ought to be torn down.
Built in 1894, Clarence True’s houses at 43-57 St. Nicholas Place and 842- 844 St. Nicholas Avenue, are exemplary of the American basement plan, where one enters near the ground level. In place of a straight flight inside to upper floors, a U-shaped stair is placed in the center of the building. This expedient allowed reception rooms, at the front and the back, to extend the full width of the house. Referencing Flemish and Northern European Renaissance sources, with stepped gables, light colored materials and large round corner bays, in plan as well as design these houses are among the most sophisticated ever produced in 19th-century Harlem.
1909: When the photograph immediately above was made Paul Cadmus and his sister Fidelma,who would latter marry her brother’s onetime lover, art impresario and patron Lincoln Kirstein, had escaped a hateful tenement on Amsterdam Avenue at 103 Street, for the comforts of 849 St. Nicholas Avenue. Designed by Janes & Leo, number 849 with 853 had been completed in 1898. Paired windows below pediments at the top storey give the domestic illusion of dormers in a mansard roof.
Well before completion of St. Nicholas Avenue’s Independent Subway System in the mid 1920’s, introduction of the Interborough Rapid Transit Subway on Broadway in 1904, had already signaled the end of speculative row houses for Manhattan. Modest sized apartment buildings with one or two units per floor and as few as ten tennants were popular for a while. But as time past, smaller and smaller units proliforated in ever larger buildings.
The restrained Kinghaven, was built about 1915 for the M.R.L Building Company, at a time when larger apartment houses were starting to be built in the Sugar Hill district exclusively. Upon completion, promotional literature touted its convenient location, well-appointed apartments, and reasonable rents. Featuring decorative brickwork, and an arched entryway with a rusticated surround, it was the home of Francis Ellis Rivers in the early 1940’s. A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Rivers was the first African American member of the Bar Association of New York. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1930, where he wrote legislation to allow African Americans to hold judgeships in New York City.
Entertainment and good times have long been a central aspect of life lived on the hill where current residents lament a dearth of nightspots and restaurants compared to the old days. An important Sugar Hill watering hole, eating place and place of assignation for over 50 years, Troger's Hotel at 92 St. Nicholas Place, was built on land leased from some of the City's wealthiest real estate operators, Robert and Ogden Goelet. The developers, who spent just seventy-five hundred dollars building this resort, were Henry and Frederick Toger, proprietors of Troger's Brothers Liquors on Columbus Avenue. The success of their operation was assured by convenient proximity to both the Polo Grounds' grandstand and the Harlem Speedway. Many a discriminating sportsman who patronized both facilities could often be found taking refreshment here following a game or race. There were even a limited number of private rooms for dinning and sleeping for more intimate meetings.
Continuing under white management a full decade after the environs had become New York's elite African American neighborhood, in the 1930's Troger's became one of two branches of Bowman's Cafe and Grill. Bowman's, in 1958, in turn gave way to the Bankers' Lounge, featuring jazz trios and organ soloist like Gloria Bell or Kenny Burrell's Trio, well into the mid-1960's.
Ca. 1900: Troger's Hotel
Right outside of the silent nightclub and roadhouse that was Troger's and Bowman's, is perhaps one of New York's more curious landmarks. Named for civic-minded businessman and native Harlemite, John Hooper, the Hopper Fountain is a remarkable local restoration. Hooper was both a Harlem booster and an armature historian. Educated at area schools he left the United States Military Academy at West Point after two years. Going on to work as a civil engineer during the construction stages of the New York and Erie Railroad in the 1840's, Hooper next joined Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, where he began what's felt to have been the first advertising agency in New York.
George Martin Huss’ Hooper Memorial Fountain.
Hooper used the connections he made at the Tribune to go on to become a successful businessman, the one-time director of the Iron Steamboat Company, Hooper also served as president of the Colwell Lead Company and the North River Savings Bank, owned extensive real estate in New York and Brooklyn and was a trustee of the Tribune Association and supported many charitable institutions in the New York area. When Hooper died in 1889, he willed the cities of Brooklyn and New York $10,000 to construct two fountains “whereat man and beast can drink.”
The fund set aside in Hooper’s will was subject to an inheritance tax, and the bequest was correspondingly reduced. Yet the work went forward. The Washington Heights Association paid for the laying of the fountain’s foundation, and in 1894, the erection of this simple yet elegant fountain in northern Manhattan helped realize half of Hooper’s philanthropic vision. The fountain, designed by George Martin Huss, consists of a large round horse trough, a carved pedestal with drinking fountains for pedestrians, cats and dogs and a central Ionic column surmounted by an ornamental globe-shaped lantern and wind vane. Lassoed by young vandals in the 1981, the toppled column was broken in half. Following designation of the 155th Street Viaduct, so responsible for Sugar Hill development in the late 1890's and early 1900's, the bridge and salvaged fountain elements, were carefully restored.
By what accident did the Georgian-revival style Colonial Parkway Apartments at 409 Edgecombe Avenue, familiarly known as ‘409', come to be Sugar Hill’s most sought after address? Designed by the architectural firm Schwartz & Gross, and built for the Candler Holding Co. in 1917, it didn’t open to African-Americans until the late 1920’s. Moderately elegant, home to Giants’ great Miller Huggins, it attracted numerous outstanding black leaders, both because it had previously barred them and because it was the tallest, most elevated building open to blacks. W.E.B Dubois, Walter White, William Stanley Braithwaite, Aaron Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Jimmie Lunceford, Mercer Ellington, Billie Strayhorne, Jules Bledsoe, Roy Wilkins and journalist Marvel Cook all lived here. It was to Harlem of yesteryear what the Lenox Terrace is today. But in time, as affluent African Americans came to have more options to establish 'suburban Sugar Hills' at places like New Rochelle, Addisleigh Park and Patterson, Sugar Hill declined.
Subject to catastrophic losses in terms of neglect and the careless destruction of an extraordinary built environment, Sugar Hill, slow to be rediscovered and landmarked, ravaged by epidemics of drug abuse and political indifference, endures. Nonetheless, even poised for reinvestment and metamorphosis, terrible, stupid, needless threats persist.
Ellen Baxter, Broadway Housing Communities founder and executive director, calls her new project that destroyed a national landmark, but provides 124 units of affordable housing and a children's museum at 155th Street and Street Nicholas Avenue, "a remarkable development on Sugar Hill," Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the $80.2 million asymmetrical tower designed by British architect David Adjaye offers not only necessary affordable housing but also a, "rich cultural resource that will build on the grand tradition of arts in Sugar Hill."
One cannot possibly argue with either assessment. Certainly in the face of gentrification, more and better affordable housing is needed than ever before. Only, why when presented with some benefit, is Harlem always made to sacrifice some landmark or otherwise to compromise our cultural heritage? Why is a building so needed that some might happily see it made twice as high, colored black, made to appear unstable and designed in every way to detract from the surrounding city, state and federally designated historic district, rather than imagined in a way that might compliment it? Imposition, dismissal, condescension, and insistence that every choice, be a ‘Sophie’s choice’, or no choice at all, these are all today’s subtler, but no less dire forms of racist, paternalistic, elitism.