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East Harlem/El Barrio Block 1617

About this listing

Community spaces under threat of demolition from looming luxury development

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Harlem
Open Space, Recreation, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

Written by Bethany Herrmann, Glenn Bell, and Meisha Guild 

Block 1617 is located in East Harlem / El Barrio, on Park Avenue between East 112th and 111th Street. According to open data systems, of the 28 lots comprising this block, one contains a structure and the rest are vacant. In reality, the block is home to five community gardens and a baseball field, developed and maintained by the community on land cleared by the city and left for over fifty years.

A community has come together to create relevant spaces that provide agency and meaning. They have seized their right to the city by turning an abandoned lot into a site for recreation, food production, nature, socializing, and gathering.

This place matters because it is a symbol and site of reclamation, and it is threatened. Block 1617 is a community hub, a precious plot of open space slated for demolition...

Read More


Clarillo, Michael. “East Harlem Baseball Field Closed by NYC Officials for the Development of Luxury Housing.” Petition, Sept 2017.

Harlem RBI, “Our Mission.” DREAM, 2017.

NYC Parks, History of the Community Garden Movement, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation,

Schulz, Dana. “New Renderings of East Harlem’s Sendero Verde, The Country’s Will-Be Largest Passive House Project.” 6sqft, 9 Aug. 2017,

The City of New York, Office of the Mayor of New York and Office of Housing Preservation and Development, The City of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan.” Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan, 2014.

Wertheim, Jon. “San Francisco’s Leaning Tower of Lawsuits.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 29 Nov. 2017,

Winterbottom, Daniel. “Hopeless Future For Gardens Of Hope? Casitas; Gardens of Reclamation.” CityFarmer.Org, City Farmer, Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture, 8 Nov. 1998,

For more information:

Mr. Clarillo’s Change.Org Petition -

The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan -

El Barrio Unite! -

The East Harlem Community Alliance -

Green Thumb NYC -

SupaStar. “Floetry – SupaStar featuring Common.” (Featuring the RBI baseball field)

Further Reading:

Mahler, Jonathan. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City. Macmillan Publishers, April 2005. ISBN #9781429931038


Glenn Bell, Meisha Guild, Bethany Herrmann

Because #theyarenotinvisible

Nominated through Dr. Marta Gutman’s Race, Space and Architecture course, Spitzer School of Architecture, City College, New York, Fall 2017

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