Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Years In New York City

I got the idea while I was journaling the night before my birthday to go visit all the old neighborhoods I used to live in. Go back to my old addresses and schools and take photos; chronicle what gentrification has done to Hamilton Heights and SoBro (Harlem and the South Bronx, as I know them)

About halfway into the trip, I had already seen a roller-blading professor whose sneakers I retrieved when he dropped them as he clunked his way past me. I saw construction taking place on 143rd and 144th between Amsterdam and Convent which I swear has been going on since the 90's. Took the Bx19 to my old neighborhood going past Lincoln Hospital (where it all began) and had flashbacks to the rides on that bus to and from school. It was amazing, despite all the time that had passed, not much had changed at all.

There was this guy who used to sell fruits on Willis Avenue between 145th and 146th and he's still there! I couldn't believe it. I didn't go back to my first address - 940 Grand Concourse (1980 - 1985), but the post office on 149th, didn't look as big as it once did.

I took a few photos on my trip down memory lane, but did way more gawking and gazing and talking on the phone and texting. I was getting a lot of birthday love so I can't complain! Plus, in this day and age, it does creep people out when you're taking photos of buildings and what not. And since I would be visiting schools, it can be even creepier.

This view is so familiar. 4 years of high school. I used to hang out on this hill during lunch time at Randolph. A group of us would sit on this abandoned car. My junior high school didn't have an auditorium so we'd use the auditorium at Randolph.

Junior high graduation was held here and countless other assemblies. Went to tons of dance performances here as well.

Here's the junior high school, Mott Hall. I had flashbacks to playing Dead Man's ball before school with the boys in the morning. It was a combination of basketball and football. And I can still hear the handball games in the background.

I'd go back to school just so I could be in this professor's class. I didn't get a chance to ask him what he teaches or check the titles of the books he was carrying. I was too busy studying his face as I handed him his sneakers. I assume he's a Philosophy or English professor. He was at least 60 years old and not very graceful on those rollerblades, but he was getting from point A to point B!

I was touched that Mishkin's was still on the corner! It was always like going back in time when I went in there with my mother. This block is still pretty much the same, except Golden Krust is gone but Patty Shop is there. I had friends who used to live in this building and we'd play in the backyard. My building around the corner and the backyard of this building were connected.

I forgot to walk along Hamilton Terrace to check out the Children's Art Carnival.

I still remember my old phone number when I lived here circa 1986 - 1991.

Spent quite a few after school hours at this library. Doing research in encyclopedias or just waiting for my parents to get home. Once I got trapped on the double yellow line with a friend trying to cross the street in the middle instead of at the light.

This building is STILL here. Unreal. No crack vials littered the sidewalk though. And I still had such a strong urge to go inside and explore.

Exit 2 at my elementary school. My class always got let out through Exit 2. So many afternoons spent watching classmates act like madmen waiting to get picked up. I had maybe two altercations of my own outside these doors.

This view. So many memories. This was the one time on my tour that I felt small again. That was my bus stop for years. Even when I didn't live in the neighborhood anymore, that corner was part of my commute. Bx19 to school/home, the yellow bus during junior high, or trips to Third Avenue to shop during elementary school  Again, so glad Mishkin's is still there. To my Harlem family, please let me know if there's ever a "For Sale" sign in the window. I'd have to come back and give my proper respects. 

After I took this photo, I rushed across the street to catch that bus. The bus driver was waving everybody on. Free ride!

The corner of the other 145th Street I lived on. I had to remind myself to slow down and actually look around when I walked from the bus to "my" block. It was so familiar; like I never left. I even stopped at the bodega and bought a Snickers bar for old times sake. The same people own/work there.

The block. The teenage years and early 20's. The driveway. Shoveling snow. The Boy Next Door. The early mornings. The late nights.

Ok, this McDonald's was here when I lived in this neighborhood. And there were late nights I would get off the train and grab something to eat. But I had to go into the store (the main entrance is around the corner). Not sure how I feel about this.

This view, all through college and on Sundays in high school when I had to go to Xinos meetings. Very disturbed the Christmas decorations are already up. They never put them up that early back in the day.

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