Historical Timeline


1947: Originally known as Morningside Heights, Inc., the Morningside Area Alliance was established in 1947 by leaders of Morningside Heights institutions, led by David Rockefeller as its first president, to provide collective urban planning and development for the Morningside Heights and Manhattanville areas of Upper Manhattan. “to promote the improvement of Morningside Heights as an attractive residential, educational and cultural area” The Alliance also advocated for good schools, established a neighborhood and youth program, and enhanced public safety by providing a series of security patrols.

1949: MAA organizes to expand housing options in the neighborhood,  advocating for public housing and one of the city’s first Mitchell-Lama middle income housing developments and working in partnership with city planners.

1950s: MAA conducts neighborhood planning, recruits neighborhood services, and brings the nonprofit institutions of the area to communicate about common concerns.

1957: Grant Houses opens to first residents.

1958: Morningside Gardens opens to first residents.

1961: MHInc authorizes establishment of first security street patrol (one of the first private residential police forces in the country, “Morningside Community Patrol.”)

1967: After years of MHInc advocacy, a new public elementary school, PS 36, is built.

1974: Morningside Heights Inc. is changed to Morningside Area Alliance to emphasize focus on broader community.

1978: 716 youths receive tutoring and counseling at Stone Gym and Store Front Center over three years. 

1981: MAA youth programs peak at over 2000 annual participants in multiple locations operating seven days a week. 

1990’s: Serves as catalyst and funder for expansion of Friends of Morningside Park / Morningside Park organizers. Launches Job Connections program for job development at member institutions. Major budget focus on Community Patrol. Conducts neighborhood market assessments and contracts for streetscape and transportation infrastructure planning. Funds and manages installation of new streetlamps. 

1997: First Morningside Park “Our Common Ground” celebration is held as a collaboration with residents, MAA institutions and Harlem churches. Today, this includes the Morningside Lights Event and is sponsored by Friends of Morningside Park.

Working mission statement 1998-2010: The mission of the Morningside Area Alliance is to foster, develop and promote the advancement of the Morningside Heights district of New York City as a unique educational, residential and cultural neighborhood; to sustain linkages among its members institutions to enhance communication, public well-being and cooperative initiatives; and to identify and access the collective resources of its member institutions for the purpose of improving the areas of education and youth services, public health and community development in Morningside Heights and the surrounding community.

1998: Community Leaders Luncheon is held with MAA and Upper Manhattan leaders to discuss common issues and concerns. Public education is a guided focus of conversation.

2004: Bridge to Excellence Partnership is implemented with PS 125 and programs are provided including educator training.

2006: Expanded parent and youth activities.

2008: Teachers College launches Office of School & Community Partnerships which succeeds and greatly expands organization’s work.

2009: Amsterdam Nursing Home’s final year membership. Fiscal sponsorship of Making Music Matters (PS 36). Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with CB9/CU finalized with a pledge of $76 million to local nonprofits.

2010: Executive leadership of organization lacks commitment to MAA programming and activities with an eye toward defunding. Budget is reduced from $670,000 to $335,000.

2011: Manhattanville Campus breaks ground – 17 acre campus part of 1970 MAA redevelopment plan. Budget at $356,000 with focus on severance packages.

2012: Rockefeller Brothers Fund supported organization assessment (“situational analysis”) with outside consultants; Growth oriented recommendations of RBF were not put forth in the transition plan.

2013: Revamps public school program and raised $50,000 from WHDC for reinvestment in neighborhood public schools.

2014: MAA establishes a “Strategic Alliances Committee” which hosts discussions around best practices in joint-programming. Bank Street College of Education ends its membership (Pres. Shael Polakow-Suransky). Fiscal sponsorship of Keep Your Head Up basketball camp.

2015: MAA hosts Community Builder’s event, bringing MAA leaders in contact with 60 neighborhood nonprofit and activist leaders.

2016: MAA hosts full day leadership development training on Collaboration. Produces a number of reports for member and other nonprofits, including “Hiring Students” and “Social Service Needs in West Harlem” and “Guide to Social Services.”

2017: International House co-hosts the first Sakura Park Festival including member participation, community groups, and food vendors. Bylaws amended to expand the number of directors from 1 to up to 3 staff of member institutions. Leadership development symposium on Communications.