An Island in Bloomingdale: Life in the Old Community
Susan Fridie, Rob Garber, Jim Mackin
Monday, February 12, 2024, 5:30 pm
In the opening years of the 20th century, an unlikely community of African Americans arose on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Restricted to two city blocks by discriminatory rental practices, it became a
close-knit village within the larger neighborhood.
The Old Community, as it became known, was razed in the 1950s in the name of “Urban Development,” yet managed to maintain much of its cohesion for another 50 years, despite its residents having been widely scattered.
Timed to coincide with Black History Month, this illustrated talk focuses on the half-century life of the Old Community: its residents, its businesses, its activities, and its aftermath. As a special bonus, a former resident of the Old Community, or two, will be on hand to share stories and answer questions.
Susan Fridie is a volunteer with BNHG, has extensive family ties to the Old Community, and lives in Park West Village, the development that replaced it.
She has immersed herself in the extensive materials in the Old Community archives in the BNHG Library collection, housed at Bloomingdale Library, and has done valuable work to organize them for easier access for public use. You can find a description of this in the Summer 2023 BNHG newsletter article titled Sprucing Up the “Old Community.”
Rob Garber is the author and designer of the current, related exhibit about The Old Community at the Bloomingdale Branch Library (see New in the Neighborhood) and is a member of BNHG’s Planning Committee.
Jim Torain Award: The presentation of the BNHG Jim Torain Award will be part of this program. The award acknowledges the person or organization that honors the history of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. It is named after Jim Torain, who grew up in the Old Community and ensured that its legacy, including its many talented and accomplished residents who enriched our neighborhood and our history, would not be lost or forgotten.
This program will be live, in person, and free.
Bloomingdale Library, 150 West 100th Street, between Amsterdam and
Columbus Avenues, 2nd floor (wheelchair accessible)