Getting Ready for Summer 2023, Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is in the News




Marcus Garvey Park w/view of the Acropolis & historic Harlem Fire Watchtower in the background, the current art installation by Art Lives Here on the great lawn, artist Reuben Sinha: Breathing. Madison Ave side near 123rd Street.

Sitting in on the recent CB 11 meeting, Jana La Sorte, the Administrator of Historic Harlem Parks, gave an update on a plethora of good news happening in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem.

The Park, which runs from 120th Street to 124th Street, and from Madison Avenue to Mount Morris Park West, is the home to the historic Harlem Fire Watchtower, the Harlem Drummers, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, a swimming pool, and from what we heard in this meeting, it may be the new home of Harlem Eat Up!

Harlem Fire Watchtower. Image via Library of Congress

Earlier this year, Harlem Grown announced a $1.3 Mellon Foundation Grant, supporting programs in Marcus Garvey Park. The grant will support a mobile Harlem Grown teaching food kitchen in the Park, support more public art in the Park, encourage community engagement including new and existing programming.

Below, the public art project entitled Sankofa by Jerome Haferd. The installation is created to host not only programming (visual and performing), but to also act as a passive gathering space for park goers.

Interior artwork, June 2023

“As we have expanded our farms and educational programming, and grown in our connections to the culture and history of Harlem, we’ve observed underinvestment in public spaces and how gentrification threatens these spaces,” said Tony Hillery, founder and CEO of Harlem Grown. “That’s why this grant is so transformational, and also why attaching this programming to somewhere as historically and culturally significant as Marcus Garvey Park matters deeply. Our work is a community effort and never stops at food; we are thrilled to find new ways to uplift the voices of past and present Harlem and are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Mellon Foundation.”

The New Harlem Hort HQ, a $50,000+ pledge by new York Junior League, are two greenhouse structures adjacent and to the east of the pool.

Work progressing on the two Harlem Fort HQ structures. Image taken March 16, 2023.

The two structures (above) will enable the Park to cultivate its own plants for Marcus Garvey Park as well as the other historic Harlem Parks. This site will allow for free public horticulture programming like workshops, demonstrations, author talks, arts horticulture events etc. which will include partners like Green Thumb, Partnerships for Parks, Harlem Grown, City Gardens Club, Horticultural Society and others. It will also offer a place for the uptown gardening/hort community such as Green Thumb gardeners, to have a central meet-up site, and a place for volunteers to meet.

On our walk through the Park today, we were lucky to bump into Erick, who oversees all gardening in Marcus Garvey Park. He hopes to have the two structures completed in April, 2023 and more than ready for programming in June.

The easiest way to get to Harlem Hort HQ is through the 124th Street and Fifth Avenue entrance, take the paved path at the east end of the pool house up to the pool ~ and there you will find the new structures.

The new Comfort Station/Community Room by the Harlem Little League Ballfield has been completed! (below)

New Comfort Station and Community Room by the Harlem Little League Field

Use of the new Community Room can be scheduled by community partners. The space can accommodate up to sixty people and it is free. In addition, you will notice a concession window under the awning, and around the corner, a comfort station. The new facility is right next to the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater.

Entrance to comfort station on the Mount Morris Park side of the building

The comfort station side of the building is next to the Pelham Fritz Community Center (above).

Substantial funding for infrastructure was announced. $12 million designated by mayor Adams for stone repair and rat abatement; $1.7 million allocated by City Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan for “Green 2 Greener Initiative”/ sustainable energy solutions; $1.6 million committed by State Senator Cordell Cleare for NW small playground; and a State of Good Repair Grant for repaving of the entire NW and SW sections of the park, which will add new curbing, paver stones and five ADA entrances ~ and fix the drainage issues inside the 123rd Street and MMPW entrance.

State New York Parks office has taken the lead, along with two parks groups, to submit nomination paperwork for Marcus Garvey Park to be named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Ribbon Cutting Day (October 2019) for the historic Harlem Fire Watchtower.

What is Landmarked? The historic Harlem Fire Watchtower is the only surviving watchtower ~ one of eleven cast-iron watchtowers that were placed throughout New York City in the 1850s. It was originally unveiled in 1857, and was designated a New York City Landmark in 1967, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The Watchtower was disassembled and removed in 2015 for restoration, and returned in October, 2019 to a grand and welcoming Ribbon Cutting.

April 24, 2015 ~ Removing the bell

Some of the key programming mentioned during the CB 11 March, 2023 meeting:

May 7th ~ the Annual Rites of Drum in the Marcus Garvey Park Amphitheater

Harlem HQ will officially open on the weekend of the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Festival!

Classical Theatre of Harlem and Jazzmobile Fridays will be back in July.

August continues Jazzmobile Fridays and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival + Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

Swimming Pool in Marcus Garvey park. Harlem Hort HQ is located to the right (or east) of the pool, on the same upper level.

The 3rd Annual Opening Night of MET Opera will take place in September, and we hope, Harlem Eat Up! on September 9-10

Community care and meaningful public engagement are what have enhanced the Park with fun, interactive activities like Sing for Hope Pianos, The Children’s Reading Circle, Three Little Free Libraries ~ the #NYPhil Bandwagon paid a visit. 

Even Little Amal took a walk through Marcus Garvey Park during her 2022 visit to New York.

The Drummers Circle in Marcus Garvey Park, with newly painted benches from Juneteenth.

The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater on the West side of the Park has been home to Classical Theatre of Harlem, Jazzmobile and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in addition to countless performances including Questlove’s Summer of Soul in 2021. Creative Courts and Publicolor enlivened the basketball court in 2019.

No, They are not working, but wish they were.. Located on the Madison Avenue side of the Park near 122nd Street.

The Park has a barbecue area, dog run, chess/checkers tables and one of NYC’s few outdoor swimming pools. It is home to the Harlem Little League and several playgrounds for all ages.

Marcus Garvey Park

Marcus Garvey Park is just 1 short block away from the currently under construction National Black Theatre, and a block away from the busy Lenox Avenue and the Mt. Morris Park Historic District. The Park sits squarely between the Subway Stations for the 4-5-6 and 2-3 and several MTA bus lines.

Enjoy this lovely article by Improvised Life showing the natural beauty in Marcus Garvey Park.

Just a few blocks to the West, the newly renovated entrance to the historic Victoria Theatre, newly constructed Harlem Marriott Renaissance Hotel, Victoria Tower Residences and The Apollo Theater Expansion ~ and a few doors down, the historic Apollo Theater along 125th Street. Harlem and East Harlem are also home to a number of art galleries. More happening in Harlem Here.


4 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Summer 2023, Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem is in the News

  1. Is any funding going towards helping the homeless and drug-addicted participants in the park? It’s such an ideal place for reaching out. I’d hate to think some of this funding was going towards policing them away from the park.
    Is also be curious to know why most of the funding is going to the west side of the park. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) if I’m not wrong this reflects on gentrification which is mostly to the west of the park…

    1. Perhaps Connie Lee can answer that question. Erick has been with the Park, in charge of gardening, for a few years, replacing Panama.

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