On this week's show we visit Washington Heights.
My guests will be Robert Snyder, Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Journalism at Rutgers University and the Manhattan Borough Historian, and New York City Council Member Mark Levine, representing New York’s 7th District.
Jeff introduces his first guest Robert Snyder a retired professor of history at Rutgers University. Robert begins by going through his New York City upbringing. Jeff then asks how Robert got involved in studying history and how NYC’s history became a focus in his work. Robert goes on to talk about the books he’s written about New York. Jeff asks Robert how he became a Manhattan borough historian. They change topics to the history of Washington heights, beginning with the first native settlers and their customs. They move on to talking about the Dutch farmers who were some of the first English settlers in New York. Then Jeff and Robert start discussing the revolutionary war history in Washington Heights. Jeff moves on to ask Robert what Washington Heights was like in the nineteenth century.
After the break, Jeff starts by asking Robert the inspiration behind one of his first books published, which covers immigration in New York City. Next, Jeff asks Robert about when the modern Washington Heights began to take shape. Moving on, Robert goes over the first immigrants to move into the neighborhood. While discussing the challenges they faced. He starts by discussing the German-Jewish immigrants who lived in the heights. They then talk about the Dominican immigrants who moved into Washington Heights beginning in the 1960's. Jeff then brings up a dark time for the neighborhood in the 80s when drug dealing was rampant. Robert then discusses how the neighborhood bounced back and the community’s efforts to change things for the better. After this, Robert talks more about his book Crossing Broadway, and the recent history in Washington Heights.
Jeff introduces his next guest Mark Levine, an NYC council member who represents the 7th district. Mark first speaks about how he came to live in Washington Heights and his first job as a South Bronx teacher. Jeff asks Mark how teaching led him into working as a community activist. This leads to Jeff asking Mark the defining moment that got him to form a credit union for Washington Heights. Mark then talks about how he entered politics, which was born out of frustration at the city’s failure to help economic development in more impoverished communities. Jeff then asks Mark about his responsibilities on the health committee during COVID-19.
Jeff starts again by asking about Mark’s role in the progressive caucus on the council. Changing topics, Mark talks about the vibe of Washington Heights and what makes it unique. He goes over the storefronts and restaurants and how diverse the community is. Mark then brings up the challenges Washington Heights has faced recently and how they are working to overcome them. Jeff asks Mark what he wishes he could see added to the neighborhood. For his final question, Jeff asks Mark why he decided to run for borough president.
00:00:32.040 --> 00:00:40.620 Jeff Goodman: Hello everyone. Welcome to our listeners and the Big Apple from across the US and indeed around the world. I'm Jeff Goodman and this is rediscovering New York
00:00:41.280 --> 00:00:49.830 Jeff Goodman: Professionally, I'm a real estate broker with Halsted real estate, which today is become part of brown Harris Stevens and as most of you know I love New York
00:00:50.400 --> 00:00:59.040 Jeff Goodman: rediscovering New York as a weekly program about the history texture and vibe of our amazing cities city singular, excuse me, not plural.
00:00:59.400 --> 00:01:07.260 Jeff Goodman: And we do it through interviews with historians local business owners nonprofit organizations preservationists local musicians and artists.
00:01:07.740 --> 00:01:17.880 Jeff Goodman: And the occasional elected official and we have tonight on some shows we focus on an individual New York neighborhood exploring its history and its current energy
00:01:18.360 --> 00:01:22.290 Jeff Goodman: What makes that particular New York neighborhood special, and that's what we're going to do tonight.
00:01:23.100 --> 00:01:30.030 Jeff Goodman: On some shows we host episodes about an interesting and vital color of the city and its history. That's not focused on one particular neighborhood.
00:01:30.780 --> 00:01:40.020 Jeff Goodman: Prior episodes have covered topics as diverse and illuminating as American presidents who came from lived in or who had some interesting history here in New York, about half of them, believe it or not.
00:01:40.680 --> 00:01:48.540 Jeff Goodman: The history of women activists in the women's suffrage movement here in the city, we've focused on African American history in the city actually going back to the time, but the Dutch
00:01:49.080 --> 00:01:53.460 Jeff Goodman: We've talked about the history of the city's LGBT community and the gay rights movement movement.
00:01:54.330 --> 00:02:01.260 Jeff Goodman: We've explored the history of bicycles, we've looked at. History The history of punk and Opera. They were separate shows, by the way.
00:02:01.950 --> 00:02:08.490 Jeff Goodman: We've looked at our public library systems and of course being New York, we have not one, not two, but three public library systems.
00:02:09.150 --> 00:02:12.750 Jeff Goodman: We've looked at some of our greatest train stations and even some of our bridges.
00:02:13.650 --> 00:02:20.130 Jeff Goodman: After the broadcast each show is available on podcasts. You can hear us on Apple Spotify SoundCloud Stitcher and other services.
00:02:20.640 --> 00:02:28.620 Jeff Goodman: Tonight, we're going to take a little journey uptown to not quite the northernmost tip of Manhattan, but close to it. Washington Heights and I have two great guests this evening.
00:02:29.730 --> 00:02:41.520 Jeff Goodman: Our first guest is Robert Snyder, Dr. Robert Snyder is the Manhattan Borough historian and he's recently Professor Emeritus of American Studies and journalism and Rutgers University in Newark.
00:02:42.300 --> 00:02:48.450 Jeff Goodman: Most recently. He's the co author of all the nations under heaven immigrants migrants in the making of New York.
00:02:48.750 --> 00:02:55.620 Jeff Goodman: And he's also the author of crossing Broadway Washington Heights and the promise of New York and of course we're going to be speaking about that on tonight's show
00:02:56.490 --> 00:03:02.850 Jeff Goodman: He's a member of the New York Academy of history in 2016 was a Fulbright lecturer and American Studies in South Korea.
00:03:03.780 --> 00:03:14.790 Jeff Goodman: Dr. Snyder was appointed to the position of Manhattan Borough historian by Borough President Gale Brewer in 2019 Robert Snyder a healthy and hearty welcome to rediscovering New York
00:03:15.180 --> 00:03:16.350 Rob Snyder: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.
00:03:17.010 --> 00:03:18.270 Jeff Goodman: Are you originally from the city.
00:03:19.050 --> 00:03:23.880 Rob Snyder: I was born in New York City. I was born at Royal Hospital in the Bronx and 1955
00:03:24.270 --> 00:03:33.030 Rob Snyder: But at that time my parents were living in Washington Heights at 554 Washington Avenue and I spent the first year of my life, then in New York City.
00:03:33.510 --> 00:03:50.280 Rob Snyder: But my parents and suit search of greener pastures for me move to the north Jersey suburbs in 1956 so I grew up in the suburbs, listening to my parents stories about Washington Heights and visiting lots of relatives in Inwood and the West Bronx and Yonkers
00:03:50.820 --> 00:03:54.270 Jeff Goodman: And when did you make it back to our hardy place.
00:03:54.540 --> 00:04:04.500 Rob Snyder: I came back in 1980 to start graduate school at New York University where I got my PhD in history, and I was thrilled to come to the city and live here and pretty much been here ever since.
00:04:05.460 --> 00:04:13.080 Jeff Goodman: Rob. When did you first become interested in the study of history and think that you might do it as as a profession and as a passionate, of course.
00:04:14.130 --> 00:04:21.660 Rob Snyder: It started very early in my childhood history always fascinated me. My parents would take us on long road trips to visit an aunt in Virginia.
00:04:22.050 --> 00:04:33.660 Rob Snyder: And we would drive past old Civil War battlefields. And I can remember you maybe 710 years old, insisting that they stop and read one more historical marker about a battle that took place in 1863
00:04:34.110 --> 00:04:41.070 Rob Snyder: I also grew up in North Jersey and was well aware of the Revolutionary War and its impact on
00:04:41.640 --> 00:04:48.480 Rob Snyder: The history of the United States, and I didn't really get my professional orientation towards history until I went to college.
00:04:48.750 --> 00:05:01.320 Rob Snyder: And I went to a place called Livingston college it was the experimental college it was part of Rutgers University and in the History Department there. I picked up what was then called the new social history history from the bottom up history of working people immigrants.
00:05:03.390 --> 00:05:16.050 Rob Snyder: LGBT people women's history, African Americans all sorts of corners of history that hadn't been explored with the top down approach that concentrated on presidents and kings. I loved it and I took off with it from there.
00:05:16.890 --> 00:05:21.570 Jeff Goodman: When did New York become in New York history become a focus of your work.
00:05:22.590 --> 00:05:27.180 Rob Snyder: I would say when I got to graduate school, and that would have been in 1980
00:05:27.540 --> 00:05:35.220 Rob Snyder: And in the 1980s. I worked my way around to doing a dissertation on New York City history that became a book about vaudeville the voice of the city.
00:05:35.580 --> 00:05:44.280 Rob Snyder: For villain. Popular culture In New York, and at that time. New York City history was growing it wasn't as big as you would think it was lots of people had written about it.
00:05:44.580 --> 00:05:50.640 Rob Snyder: But professional historians hadn't taken it up that much yet and I am thrilled to say that in the years since then.
00:05:51.180 --> 00:06:04.470 Rob Snyder: Writing about the history of New York City has become a thoroughly respectable and mainstream and exciting thing to do. And some people even say there's too much of it and i don't i disagree with them politely. I think there's plenty of History in New York City to keep us busy.
00:06:05.100 --> 00:06:08.550 Jeff Goodman: Of course I'm one of the great thing. I'm not a historian, but one of the great things about about
00:06:09.690 --> 00:06:19.020 Jeff Goodman: Blazing new pastors is to be one of the first ones to not just make it cool but to but to get people really excited about about something that hadn't been written about are reported on in the past.
00:06:19.230 --> 00:06:27.480 Rob Snyder: Exactly. And it's mystifying to write if you're the first one for me it's ironic. The book that got me interested in writing a book about
00:06:28.260 --> 00:06:35.820 Rob Snyder: New York City at the neighborhood level was a book about Nazi Germany called Nazi sees you have power the experience of a small town.
00:06:36.120 --> 00:06:43.110 Rob Snyder: In Germany, and it was written by a historian named William Alan, I read it, my freshman year of college and he took a huge question.
00:06:43.860 --> 00:06:57.600 Rob Snyder: How did the Nazis come to power, and he explored it to the experience of one small town and I found that idea absolutely intoxicating, how can you take a really big subject and show how is experienced in a small place in a really human scale.
00:06:58.590 --> 00:07:08.190 Jeff Goodman: Well, not to get too much into the into the weeds in history. One of the week, we talked about the thesis that I wrote as an undergraduate and my advisor at the time she way Liang Vassar.
00:07:08.700 --> 00:07:14.190 Jeff Goodman: Who's actually father was a Chinese diplomat in Berlin before the war and during the war.
00:07:14.910 --> 00:07:26.910 Jeff Goodman: He suggested he said don't just do a broad thing. Pick something small and then let it grow from there and, you know, we will grow organically and that you know yeah that was that was such a great lesson when. When did you join the faculty of Rutgers
00:07:27.360 --> 00:07:28.770 Rob Snyder: I started there in 2000
00:07:29.250 --> 00:07:34.890 Jeff Goodman: Okay, and you just retired from Rutgers, so now you have the Honorable title of Professor Emeritus and not just professor
00:07:35.130 --> 00:07:36.570 Rob Snyder: Yeah, I like that it feels good.
00:07:37.560 --> 00:07:47.910 Jeff Goodman: You know, one thing I have to ask you you being the official Manhattan Borough historian. Was there a particular process or journey that that led you to becoming the borough's historian
00:07:49.350 --> 00:07:53.310 Rob Snyder: I had seen the Borough President, several times at public events and and
00:07:53.850 --> 00:08:00.630 Rob Snyder: She goes to an incredible number of public event. She was the launch of my book crossing Broadway when it was held at coogan's
00:08:00.960 --> 00:08:08.370 Rob Snyder: And then one day she buttonholed my wife at a public event and said to her, want to talk to your husband about becoming Manhattan Borough historian
00:08:08.820 --> 00:08:17.730 Rob Snyder: And my wife said, well, if you give them office space. So we can clear some of his books out of our apartment. I will agree to do that. And the deal was made and the message came to make
00:08:18.870 --> 00:08:29.670 Jeff Goodman: Well, good. I did. Yeah, I know there. I think each county has an official historian and New York and 63 of them. So for you to get some prime real estate presumably in the municipal building that was a
00:08:30.210 --> 00:08:31.710 Jeff Goodman: Exactly. It's a great accomplishment.
00:08:31.860 --> 00:08:32.340 Exactly.
00:08:34.050 --> 00:08:47.340 Jeff Goodman: That went to Washington Heights, um, you know, I always like to focus on, or at least inquire about people who were here before the Europeans came to be know much about the people who lived in what would become Washington Heights prior to the Dutch arriving in New York.
00:08:47.460 --> 00:08:57.150 Rob Snyder: Yeah, it's very interesting. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There was a lot of archaeology, that was done to study the native peoples. The lonard pay who lived in northern Manhattan.
00:08:57.570 --> 00:09:07.080 Rob Snyder: That it was fascinating to me because when northern Manhattan. Was that on the edge of a period of great change when it would really take on its modern form.
00:09:07.380 --> 00:09:18.120 Rob Snyder: There were historians and Arca and archaeologists looking at who lived here and how they live first and they started with the one I pay and also looked at the American Revolution.
00:09:18.600 --> 00:09:25.320 Rob Snyder: The monopoly, who lived here. We're a people who are very much accustomed to living around the Hudson River estuary.
00:09:25.740 --> 00:09:35.640 Rob Snyder: They understood how it provided a mixture of fertile farm lands, but also good fishing territory they would move, sometimes with the seasons.
00:09:36.030 --> 00:09:46.020 Rob Snyder: Setting up in one area while they harvested one element of the natural bounty of the region and then moving to another. They were here for a long, long time.
00:09:46.440 --> 00:09:52.470 Rob Snyder: A historian, Greg. Dowd made the great point that when Europeans arrived in the Hudson River Valley.
00:09:53.160 --> 00:10:05.070 Rob Snyder: They were new people entering an old world. I mean, the lonard he had been here for a long, long time. And they developed a very sophisticated way of life, taking advantage of the estuary. That is here.
00:10:06.270 --> 00:10:18.660 Jeff Goodman: When the Dutch first came to New York. They were initially traders, but then sort of the next wave of Dutch immigrants started to farm. I think maybe in the 1630 is, would they, you know, places that they farmed across
00:10:19.590 --> 00:10:24.630 Jeff Goodman: The East River in Brooklyn, because there was more fertile ground and what would become go on us because they were
00:10:25.020 --> 00:10:29.580 Jeff Goodman: It was fertile soil there. Did they do much farming and what would become Washington Heights.
00:10:30.150 --> 00:10:37.200 Rob Snyder: Not in Washington Heights so much but just a little bit south in the village of Harlem right when you get to that flat area.
00:10:37.530 --> 00:10:46.680 Rob Snyder: In what you think of is the Harlem flats, you know, that was area that could be cultivated. There was also some farming, the right on the outskirts of New Amsterdam often
00:10:47.130 --> 00:11:03.210 Rob Snyder: African Americans Africans who would either purchase or work their way out of slavery. We're living there working on farms that were kind of buffer between the little city of New Amsterdam and the rest of the island beyond the ducks were like the Indians in their own way.
00:11:04.350 --> 00:11:20.430 Rob Snyder: very attuned to life along a watery area right and how you could live in New Amsterdam, but have outlying settlements in Jersey City Governor's Island Staten Island further up in Harlem. Beyond that, in the Yonkers, not all the way up the Hudson Valley.
00:11:21.600 --> 00:11:26.070 Jeff Goodman: And one of the things I love about New York history fast forwarding about 100 years is
00:11:27.090 --> 00:11:39.540 Jeff Goodman: A lot of people don't realize it. Some people do, but actually the biggest battle of the Revolutionary War was fought right and what would become New York City. Do you want to tell us what happened in Washington, what would become Washington Heights during the war.
00:11:41.160 --> 00:11:47.910 Rob Snyder: We lost in a sentence to put it very briefly northern Manhattan was fortified the big fort.
00:11:48.360 --> 00:11:58.560 Rob Snyder: Fort Washington was on the side of Bennett park in Washington Heights today, there were other fortifications across the other side of what would today be thought of as Broadway.
00:11:58.920 --> 00:12:09.360 Rob Snyder: On for George Hill. There were outlying works in what we today think of is for try on Park and out of works further south, and it seemed like
00:12:09.840 --> 00:12:19.950 Rob Snyder: A very strong location. If you think of the location of for try on park today and Bennett park there a steep saw sloping cliffs and hills on three sides.
00:12:20.190 --> 00:12:30.210 Rob Snyder: And then a long slope of what we think of now as fort Washington Avenue heading down towards 150 fifth street with a SOUTHERN MOST PART OF THE AMERICAN lines were
00:12:30.750 --> 00:12:41.250 Rob Snyder: But the fort was not that well built, it was, it was big. It was crowded. It was an adequately prepared for the British assault that took place and
00:12:41.700 --> 00:12:54.030 Rob Snyder: The Americans were defeated and that drove them from Manhattan and from New York City for the rest of the war, the American troops were abused and treated badly on their way out of the four after the surrender.
00:12:55.830 --> 00:13:06.180 Rob Snyder: The installation was renamed after a Hessian officer and for try on park today, ironically, is named after the last royal governor of New York, so
00:13:06.900 --> 00:13:11.010 Jeff Goodman: I found that kind of strange that did that, that they would still be a name of a neighborhood, you know,
00:13:11.040 --> 00:13:13.890 Rob Snyder: Need after I agree. I agree. I was
00:13:13.890 --> 00:13:23.670 Rob Snyder: Surprised I was surprised to learn that you know you have Margaret Corbin plaza up at the top of Fort Washington Avenue that's named after an American woman who took up a post
00:13:23.970 --> 00:13:39.360 Rob Snyder: At an artillery piece after her husband was badly wounded in the fighting in the outer works of Fort Washington but the big name on the landscape is still the name of a royal governor and as we live in New York City name for the Duke of York, you know,
00:13:39.840 --> 00:13:48.900 Jeff Goodman: Right, that didn't change and New York right well became well they could have changed it from the New York colony to New York State, but we became a state with this with the same name, um,
00:13:49.680 --> 00:13:54.420 Jeff Goodman: I do want to spend a good amount of time which will do. After the break, which we're going to go to in a couple of minutes.
00:13:54.660 --> 00:14:04.920 Jeff Goodman: But I'd like to talk about what the area was like in the 19th century, was it was bucolic there were states. What would, what would become Washington Heights. What was it like in the 19th century.
00:14:05.280 --> 00:14:10.500 Rob Snyder: What's really striking in the 19th century, as you head up into Washington Heights is
00:14:11.070 --> 00:14:17.370 Rob Snyder: The states that line the ridge overlooking the Hudson River. It remains one of the most beautiful vantage points.
00:14:17.670 --> 00:14:24.930 Rob Snyder: In Manhattan. If you go up to Fort try on park today, which is the site of the buildings estate and look down and then you look up
00:14:25.500 --> 00:14:34.260 Rob Snyder: North and down south, you get why people who are living in a crowded city further south would be happy to retreat to this area.
00:14:34.590 --> 00:14:45.000 Rob Snyder: In the country. There was also some agricultural land some big institutions in Washington Heights. And there was also some farming done in the flat area top towards in would do.
00:14:45.510 --> 00:14:56.220 Rob Snyder: So it was removed from the city. It was at best, a suburb of the city in in the 19th century, all that would change in the early 20th when the subway came through.
00:14:57.150 --> 00:15:04.170 Jeff Goodman: And one of the notable people who live in what would become Washington Heights was john James Audubon the naturalist
00:15:06.360 --> 00:15:16.110 Jeff Goodman: We're going to take a short break and when we come back we're going to continue our conversation with Dr. Robert Snyder. The borough of Manhattan's official historian will be back in a moment.
00:15:16.650 --> 00:15:17.070 Thank you.
00:17:20.100 --> 00:17:28.290 Jeff Goodman: We're back to rediscovering New York is our episode this evening about Washington Heights. My first guest is the Manhattan Borough historian
00:17:28.710 --> 00:17:39.960 Jeff Goodman: Dr. Robert Snyder, Rob. I want to ask you in a little bit about your book about Washington Heights crossing Broadway. But I want to ask you about another book that you recently wrote, it's your newest book all the nations under heaven.
00:17:40.440 --> 00:17:46.740 Jeff Goodman: Immigrants migrants in the making of New York. Was there a particular inspiration for you for writing this book.
00:17:47.670 --> 00:17:57.900 Rob Snyder: Yes, the first edition of that book was written by one of my graduate school professors David Reimers was a historian of immigration and that book came out in
00:17:58.470 --> 00:18:05.580 Rob Snyder: The late 80s, early 90s and it became clear in the decades since then that immigration really transformed
00:18:05.880 --> 00:18:16.860 Rob Snyder: New York City and that the power of immigration to to lift the city out of its economic and social problems was really important in the city's recovery since the years of the urban crisis.
00:18:17.220 --> 00:18:25.740 Rob Snyder: We thought there was a big story to be told about immigration and the importance of immigration in the city, but also important to tell two other stories one
00:18:26.040 --> 00:18:35.190 Rob Snyder: The place of African Americans in the in the in the growth and changes of the city and the importance of economic inequality in the city, because that's reached
00:18:35.790 --> 00:18:48.300 Rob Snyder: A point where it's a widespread concern and we were both concerned that economic inequality had the potential to undermine the great achievements of the latest generation of immigrants and reviving the city.
00:18:49.650 --> 00:18:59.790 Jeff Goodman: That has very much to do with the subject of what the second part of our interview. But how, if people in front listeners. Want to find out about your books and potentially order them. How can they do that.
00:19:00.210 --> 00:19:14.010 Rob Snyder: So you can find them on Amazon, to be sure, crossing Broadway is available on Amazon and from Cornell University Press, all the nations under heaven is also available on Amazon, but it can be bought direct from Columbia University Press.
00:19:14.520 --> 00:19:24.420 Jeff Goodman: Oh, great. Well, we're on the subject of immigrants and also at the end of the last segment, you mentioned that the neighborhood begins to change.
00:19:25.020 --> 00:19:33.900 Jeff Goodman: With the arrival of the subway, when would the heights begin to look like the neighborhood, we see today, at least from a physical and architectural perspective.
00:19:34.080 --> 00:19:39.150 Rob Snyder: By the 1930s Washington Heights in Inwood had largely taken their present form.
00:19:39.420 --> 00:19:48.240 Rob Snyder: The train coming up from the West right lead to a final score of residential development. Think of those Art Deco apartments on Fort Washington Avenue.
00:19:48.480 --> 00:19:59.700 Rob Snyder: And some of the big apartment complexes that are up in Inwood so by the 30s, with the exception of some of the big Mitchell Lama buildings that you can see around the neighborhood and some of the latest construction.
00:20:00.060 --> 00:20:06.060 Rob Snyder: The neighborhood pretty much look like it always did. It was a stage that was set for an incredible drama.
00:20:06.360 --> 00:20:18.090 Rob Snyder: Which is the arrival of African Americans from further south Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and the whole swirl of population change that took place in northern Manhattan in the 60s and 70s and
00:20:19.080 --> 00:20:24.810 Jeff Goodman: Like so much of New York, the heights was weak colloquial, you know, I don't know if you live in Brooklyn Heights.
00:20:26.250 --> 00:20:34.020 Jeff Goodman: Washington Heights was was settled by immigrants who, who were the first immigrants to settle here as a as a group in the 20th century.
00:20:34.320 --> 00:20:38.340 Rob Snyder: So the earliest immigrant communities were largely Irish American
00:20:38.970 --> 00:20:48.030 Rob Snyder: Jewish American a small but important Community of Greek Americans and also Armenians. I mean you note that most of them are from Europe, in one way or another.
00:20:48.360 --> 00:20:58.800 Rob Snyder: There was also a small number of African Americans who tried to move up into Washington Heights out of Harlem. They made it into the southern and eastern part of the neighborhood, but there was
00:20:59.340 --> 00:21:05.130 Rob Snyder: It must be said, strong opposition to an African American presidents and realtors and local people.
00:21:05.520 --> 00:21:13.920 Rob Snyder: Used real estate covenants to keep people out to keep African Americans out of Southern Washington Heights were also some attempts to keep Jews out of
00:21:14.250 --> 00:21:22.860 Rob Snyder: Washington Heights as well. Neither of these efforts succeeded in in keeping either Jews or African Americans out of the neighborhood entirely though.
00:21:24.060 --> 00:21:40.920 Jeff Goodman: Well, growing up in New York. I'm from Brooklyn. There were two large communities that I grew up knowing were a large part of the fabric of the heights one with German immigrants who moved here and Holocaust survivors. The first to escape Nazism before the war.
00:21:42.420 --> 00:21:45.450 Jeff Goodman: And also the Dominican community but
00:21:45.480 --> 00:21:57.540 Jeff Goodman: First, I want to talk to you about the, about the Jewish immigrants who the German Jewish immigrants who settled in. I DIDN'T HEAR THIS TIME. BUT I HEARD THAT THE WASHINGTON HEIGHTS was also known as Frankfurt on the Hudson.
00:21:57.990 --> 00:22:02.670 Rob Snyder: Langford on the Hudson. The Fourth Reich is another nickname that was applied to the neighborhood.
00:22:03.180 --> 00:22:09.480 Rob Snyder: That there were German Jewish immigrants in the neighborhood from the start, and a large number of Eastern European Jews.
00:22:09.780 --> 00:22:16.830 Rob Snyder: But by the middle and late 1930s, the number of German Jewish Americans who really refugees from Nazi Germany.
00:22:17.100 --> 00:22:26.790 Rob Snyder: begins to rise because by the late 30 it's it's absolutely clear that Jews have no future in Nazi Germany and it's it's it's a fairly desperate flight, people are
00:22:27.180 --> 00:22:37.920 Rob Snyder: Racing to get out there doing all sorts of things to say to bring their families out sometimes it's a journey of two or three steps, people would get out of Germany and go somewhere in
00:22:38.190 --> 00:22:47.130 Rob Snyder: Central America and then come up to New York City, there's a significant number of German Jews who made it to the Dominican Republic and found refuge in the sewer.
00:22:47.490 --> 00:22:57.420 Rob Snyder: And then eventually moved on, usually to the United States or Israel after World War Two. BUT THOSE PEOPLE WHO CAME HERE IN THE LATE 30s.
00:22:58.560 --> 00:23:14.610 Rob Snyder: Limited very difficult experience they had found refuge from Nazi Germany, but with terribly concerned about what would happen to their relatives and friends behind them and they settled into New York City. They settled into Washington Heights in German Jewish enclaves and
00:23:17.520 --> 00:23:22.050 Rob Snyder: Went on to prosper and live good lives, but not without a lot of hardship.
00:23:22.830 --> 00:23:27.300 Jeff Goodman: Huh, and a lot of loss of the people that they knew who would who had been killed.
00:23:27.720 --> 00:23:34.170 Rob Snyder: I remember vividly doing research on crossing Broadway in which a woman described a scene in a synagogue in which
00:23:34.740 --> 00:23:43.410 Rob Snyder: At the end of the service. The rabbi would say, you know, we have somebody knew from the city of so and so here tonight with us. I want to welcome then and then after the service.
00:23:43.650 --> 00:23:50.820 Rob Snyder: People who came from that city would rush toward that person. Have you heard about my brother. Have you heard about my mother. Have you heard about my sister.
00:23:51.210 --> 00:24:02.250 Rob Snyder: And then usually the person had nothing good to report, man, you would see people turn around bow their heads and walk away with their shoulders bad in their head shaking the absence of good news. Well,
00:24:03.510 --> 00:24:10.320 Jeff Goodman: Well, like so many New York neighborhoods rod. Many of the children of the people who settled here initially moved on to other places.
00:24:10.800 --> 00:24:21.180 Jeff Goodman: And people who are different from them moved in that also evolves. The makeup and keeps the story of New York, not just vibrant, but changing and you know forever evolving.
00:24:22.590 --> 00:24:26.070 Jeff Goodman: Of course, the more recent immigrants from we're from the Dominican Republic.
00:24:27.210 --> 00:24:30.360 Jeff Goodman: Where did the name come from I pronouncing it properly.
00:24:30.510 --> 00:24:35.460 Rob Snyder: Is this name the indigenous name for the island of Hispaniola, which is the home of the Dominican
00:24:35.460 --> 00:24:50.310 Rob Snyder: Republic in Haiti both. And when I was researching the book people with sometimes called Washington Heights K A heights. Other people use alpha Manhattan Upper Manhattan. I like alto Manhattan best because it makes room for everybody in a diverse neighborhood.
00:24:50.610 --> 00:24:52.500 Jeff Goodman: Well, I'll just also a Yiddish words. Okay.
00:24:55.620 --> 00:24:57.570 Jeff Goodman: Well, you know, the second part of that.
00:24:59.010 --> 00:25:02.490 Jeff Goodman: So when, when did Dominican immigrants start moving into Washington Heights.
00:25:02.550 --> 00:25:12.090 Rob Snyder: Dominican immigrant started moving in the 1960s, but the numbers really accelerated in the 70s and 80s and they had a transforming impact on the neighborhood.
00:25:12.480 --> 00:25:20.310 Rob Snyder: Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, who was a priest and St. Elizabeth parish made a really great point to me when I was researching crossing Broadway.
00:25:20.700 --> 00:25:32.880 Rob Snyder: Which is that old Washington Heights communities of Irish Americans Jewish Americans Greek Americans got together in the 70s to begin efforts to stabilize the neighborhood.
00:25:33.240 --> 00:25:46.110 Rob Snyder: At a time in the South Bronx and central Bronx were burning just across the Harlem river to all sorts of creative efforts they worked to stabilize the housing and Washington Heights, so that northern Manhattan did not burn.
00:25:46.440 --> 00:25:53.100 Rob Snyder: The way the Bronx. Did the way my grandmother's neighborhood in highbridge did in the Bronx, for example, right. That's safeguarded, the housing.
00:25:53.400 --> 00:25:59.010 Rob Snyder: But the other great fear was population loss because plenty of neighborhoods Manhattan. We're losing population.
00:25:59.280 --> 00:26:11.520 Rob Snyder: Harlem was losing population by the 1970s, and indeed all of New York City was losing population in the 1970s, what saved Washington Heights was the combination of housing protected.
00:26:11.880 --> 00:26:25.890 Rob Snyder: And the arrival of Dominican immigrants who brought new population and new energy to the neighborhood and together. Old Washington Heights and new Washington Heights saved the community from the worst possibilities of the European crisis.
00:26:26.460 --> 00:26:33.090 Jeff Goodman: But there was a darker side to the history of Washington Heights, mostly in the 1980s. That's thankfully passed us
00:26:34.200 --> 00:26:45.870 Jeff Goodman: Specifically drugs in the crack epidemic why and why and Washington Heights. What was it about Washington Heights that had it become an epicenter of the drug trade of murder of car to have a cartel that was there.
00:26:46.200 --> 00:26:53.820 Rob Snyder: Part of it was geography. If you look at the location of Washington Heights. It's at the intersection of highways and the bridge.
00:26:54.150 --> 00:27:06.180 Rob Snyder: Over to New Jersey. That means that customers could come down from Westchester, they could come in from further east in Connecticut. Let's say they could come up from downtown, but then
00:27:06.840 --> 00:27:17.310 Rob Snyder: Dealers and people with money or drugs to move could get across the GW bridge very quickly. I remember vividly when I patrolled with the police in 1990
00:27:17.790 --> 00:27:25.500 Rob Snyder: There were crowds on the southeast corner of Broadway. I would say the low one 16th on the east side of Broadway.
00:27:26.010 --> 00:27:31.830 Rob Snyder: Were in the middle of night, they would just be scores of people hanging out on street corner. Some of them were just guys were hanging out.
00:27:32.100 --> 00:27:39.930 Rob Snyder: But there are an awful lot of drug dealers and they embedded their trade in the fabric of the neighborhood, and they defended that turf murderously
00:27:40.350 --> 00:27:57.150 Rob Snyder: If someone threatened their control of a block or a building and it drove the murder rate in Washington Heights to terrible levels and really left a deep strain of fear and the neighborhood that had to be overcome if the neighborhood was going to survive in good shape.
00:27:58.020 --> 00:27:59.040 Jeff Goodman: And indeed it did.
00:28:00.000 --> 00:28:01.410 Jeff Goodman: It was a reduction in crime.
00:28:01.470 --> 00:28:02.040 Rob Snyder: And
00:28:02.100 --> 00:28:09.180 Jeff Goodman: Sort of the heights on the path that led us to the place that it is right now what what happened that that facilitated that
00:28:09.270 --> 00:28:21.840 Rob Snyder: A lot of things came together. I mean as late as 19 1991 I did not anticipate a good future for Washington Heights and I didn't want to write a book about it because why to write about a neighborhood. My parents love
00:28:22.320 --> 00:28:28.410 Rob Snyder: If it's only going to have a happy ending, but it came back up in about 2003 and a friend in the neighborhood.
00:28:28.740 --> 00:28:38.520 Rob Snyder: Regina grid that's said to me, You really must come up here and look around things have changed. There are lots of restaurants, people are using the parks, they're out on the sidewalk. There's a local
00:28:38.880 --> 00:28:47.160 Rob Snyder: Newspaper that fights for the community and she was right. I came up. I ran in coogan's five K salsa blues and shamrocks in 2004
00:28:47.520 --> 00:29:01.890 Rob Snyder: And I was pleasantly surprised to see a real change in the neighborhood parks and sidewalks that were menacing. We're now welcoming and they had families in them at a figure out how we got from the bad place to the better place. And that's why I wrote the book.
00:29:02.640 --> 00:29:16.860 Jeff Goodman: And that's the subject of crossing Broadway. How did you come up with the name crossing Broadway so many authors use Broadway as part of their title, but for you. It's not about you know the nightlife the theater lights what most people usually think of about Broadway.
00:29:16.980 --> 00:29:26.190 Rob Snyder: When I first arrived in Washington Heights as a researcher and this would have been in 1989 I was studying the coverage of the crack epidemic in the media.
00:29:26.760 --> 00:29:35.010 Rob Snyder: At again at Center for Media Studies with Columbia University. I talked to a lot of people about the neighborhood and its geography and they, how they felt about it.
00:29:35.460 --> 00:29:48.840 Rob Snyder: And they use the most disturbing metaphors for Broadway. They said brought I was a no man's land BROADWAY WAS A berlin wall that that there was no connection between one side and the other and
00:29:49.260 --> 00:29:59.730 Rob Snyder: I found that fascinating. I had not heard of that before. And when I talked to people they did think in that way, Broadway for many people, was a barrier in the neighborhood.
00:30:00.810 --> 00:30:13.410 Rob Snyder: In the early days, it was black people on the east side white people on the west side then Jews on the west side Irish Americans on the east side then Dominicans on the
00:30:13.830 --> 00:30:20.850 Rob Snyder: East Side American born on the west side then by the first century more affluent people on the west side.
00:30:21.570 --> 00:30:29.100 Rob Snyder: less affluent people on the east side the cast of characters change, but the boundary remained and
00:30:29.400 --> 00:30:43.080 Rob Snyder: The striking thing about the history of Washington Heights for me was how people from many different ethnic groups, different parts of the neighborhood found ways to work together again and again to save the neighborhood from a bad and while
00:30:44.370 --> 00:30:50.580 Jeff Goodman: So the recent history of Washington Heights is what you cover and write about and crossing Broadway.
00:30:51.360 --> 00:30:56.280 Jeff Goodman: We're going to talk about a little bit more recent happenings in the neighborhood with our second guest.
00:30:57.240 --> 00:31:05.190 Jeff Goodman: Rob Steiner, I want to thank you so much for being a guest on rediscovering New York, our first guest has been the Manhattan Borough historian, Dr. Robert Snyder.
00:31:06.030 --> 00:31:20.070 Jeff Goodman: You can get his book crossing Broadway about Washington Heights on Amazon. We'll be back in a moment. And when we come back we will welcome our second guest member of the New York City Council Mark Levine will be back in a moment.
00:31:20.820 --> 00:31:21.270 Rob Snyder: Thank you.
00:33:36.540 --> 00:33:42.630 Jeff Goodman: We're back little delay on the unmute but here we are. Support for rediscovering New York comes from our sponsors.
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00:33:56.970 --> 00:34:03.630 Jeff Goodman: And support also comes from the Law Offices of Thomas sciatica focusing on wills estate planning probate and inheritance litigation.
00:34:04.350 --> 00:34:16.650 Jeff Goodman: Tom and his staff can be reached two to 124950317 i wish i was about New York. It's neighborhoods its history in the myriad textures of this amazing place that we live in.
00:34:17.190 --> 00:34:21.000 Jeff Goodman: This is another great show on the air about New York and specifically about the business of real estate.
00:34:21.570 --> 00:34:32.430 Jeff Goodman: Good morning, New York with Vince Rocco my friend and colleague at Halston and now brown hair Stevens Vince's show airs live on Tuesday mornings at 9am on voice america.com and also in podcast.
00:34:33.060 --> 00:34:38.790 Jeff Goodman: You can like this show on Facebook. And you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter my handle is there a Jeff Goodman NYC.
00:34:39.390 --> 00:34:45.210 Jeff Goodman: If you have comments or questions or if you'd like to get on the mailing list, please email me, Jeff at rediscovering New York dot NYC.
00:34:45.840 --> 00:34:50.790 Jeff Goodman: One of the note before we get to our second guest, even though rediscovering New York is not a show about real estate.
00:34:51.240 --> 00:34:56.460 Jeff Goodman: When I'm not on the air. I'm indeed a real estate agent now amazing city where I help my clients buy, sell
00:34:57.210 --> 00:35:09.390 Jeff Goodman: Lease and rent property. If you or someone you care about is considering a move into out of a within New York. I would love to help you with all those real estate needs. You can reach me and my team at 646-306-4761
00:35:10.410 --> 00:35:19.290 Jeff Goodman: Well, we have a special guest on the second segment for Washington Heights that's Mark Levine. He is a member of the New York City Council and he represents the seventh district and Upper Manhattan.
00:35:19.710 --> 00:35:27.720 Jeff Goodman: Which includes part of Washington Heights. Councilmember Levine serves as the chair of the Council's Committee on Health and as a member of the Progressive Caucus
00:35:28.170 --> 00:35:33.690 Jeff Goodman: He's a leader on many issues, including housing, transportation, education, economic justice in the environment.
00:35:34.680 --> 00:35:43.920 Jeff Goodman: Levine has been a lifelong advocate for addressing inequality in New York City. And just last year declared victory and his fight to get legal representation for low income tenants facing eviction
00:35:44.760 --> 00:35:49.470 Jeff Goodman: Passing the landmark right to counsel legislation, the first of its kind in the United States.
00:35:50.070 --> 00:35:55.800 Jeff Goodman: As parks chair. He also successfully fought for great equity for parks in New York's LOW AND MODERATE INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS.
00:35:56.610 --> 00:36:02.070 Jeff Goodman: Mark began his career as a bilingual math and science teacher in junior high school 149 in the South Bronx.
00:36:02.520 --> 00:36:11.970 Jeff Goodman: He went on to found the neighborhood trust Federal Credit Union, which helps low income families and Upper Manhattan gain access to financial services, including within $15 million in micro loans.
00:36:12.780 --> 00:36:19.590 Jeff Goodman: Mark was elected as a democratic district leader in 2007. He also founded the Barack Obama democratic club of Upper Manhattan.
00:36:20.040 --> 00:36:24.210 Jeff Goodman: The diverse grassroots organization focused on progressive activism and political reform.
00:36:24.900 --> 00:36:29.460 Jeff Goodman: Mark served as chair of the traffic and transportation committee on Manhattan's community board 12
00:36:29.850 --> 00:36:41.460 Jeff Goodman: Where he called for improved subway and bus service and champion the cause of making the streets safer for cyclists, a very important cause given the people who get hurt, including sadly and assistant district attorney today who was killed in Brooklyn.
00:36:42.720 --> 00:36:49.860 Jeff Goodman: Mark graduated from Haverford College with a BA in physics, he received a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
00:36:50.490 --> 00:36:57.930 Jeff Goodman: microsites with his wife, and the two sons in Washington Heights and he speaks Spanish and Hebrew mark a hearty welcome three discovering new york
00:36:58.620 --> 00:37:07.770 Mark Levine: Thank you so much, Jeff, this has been a wonderful discussion so far, anyone who hasn't read crossing Broadway really should pick up a copy, not just because of
00:37:08.610 --> 00:37:21.960 Mark Levine: Your interest in Washington Heights, but it tells a really important story about how a multi ethnic multiracial community can overcome so many challenges to to come together, highly recommend the book and happy to be here with both of you.
00:37:22.200 --> 00:37:31.800 Jeff Goodman: Oh, great. Well, and, like, maybe I can even get Rob to describe my copy for me. Mark, you're not in it. If you're new yorker you grew up a couple of hundred miles south of New York in here.
00:37:32.250 --> 00:37:41.610 Mark Levine: That's why I grew up in Columbia, Maryland came to New York to be a science teacher after college, and I've been in Washington Heights for 25 years now.
00:37:42.390 --> 00:37:57.990 Mark Levine: Still a resident of Washington Heights on Fort Washington Avenue in the southern part of the community, which I now represent the city council and our kids were born here and we very much feel deeply rooted in this incredible community.
00:37:58.800 --> 00:38:10.560 Jeff Goodman: How did you get your first teaching job in the South Bronx, that sort of, you know, coming from Columbia, Maryland, which is probably is, you know, a suburban middle class American that you can get outside of DC and coming to the South Bronx.
00:38:10.590 --> 00:38:18.540 Mark Levine: Furthermore, there was because of budget challenges. They were very, very little hiring in the public schools in the early 90s.
00:38:18.930 --> 00:38:26.160 Mark Levine: And there were there were only two categories, they were bringing in the year I came, which is people who spoke Spanish and and or people who had
00:38:26.700 --> 00:38:43.020 Mark Levine: And math science background and lucky for me. I checked off both boxes and landed at a junior high school in the South Bronx, which was probably about the best education I ever got really an incredible experience fruits set me on a career of community work.
00:38:43.710 --> 00:38:56.220 Jeff Goodman: Well, you're fluent in Spanish. And you also speak Hebrew. I gotta ask you, I speak a little bit of Hebrew. I learned it in elementary school. And as I like to say I was taught by good first generation is really Labour Party types that was back in the
00:38:56.220 --> 00:38:59.550 Jeff Goodman: 60s. How did you learn Hebrew. What was, what did you learn it.
00:39:00.660 --> 00:39:03.660 Mark Levine: I I'm in love with the language.
00:39:04.800 --> 00:39:14.910 Mark Levine: It's a big part of my identity as a Jew and I have family in Israel who I forced to speak to me only in Hebrew and unable to visit there many times
00:39:15.480 --> 00:39:27.330 Mark Levine: And I'm something of a language geek. It's a some people do crossword puzzles in their, in their free time. And for me, I studied languages, which, by the way, in politics is extremely helpful.
00:39:28.080 --> 00:39:39.600 Jeff Goodman: Yes, especially in the district, you're in Spanish. Um, how long have you started teaching, did you start becoming engaged with community activism and community empowerment efforts.
00:39:41.280 --> 00:39:44.970 Mark Levine: Teaching really launched me into this work.
00:39:46.620 --> 00:39:57.120 Mark Levine: So many of my students and their families had just no connection to the formal financial system. And so I worked started working with a group of fellow teachers.
00:39:58.440 --> 00:40:00.870 Mark Levine: Many of whom were in Washington Heights.
00:40:02.340 --> 00:40:18.150 Mark Levine: Including my then best friend and still very, very dear friend, Luis Santos, who was a teacher, you're in the neighborhood. And we started a nonprofit to help low income families and working families connect to the financial system and we started the Community Credit Union.
00:40:19.230 --> 00:40:24.000 Mark Levine: Here in Washington Heights still going strong. It's called neighborhood trust Federal Credit Union.
00:40:25.530 --> 00:40:42.150 Mark Levine: We launched it out of abandoned bank branch and the bus terminal on for Washington Avenue and 170 ninth and now it eventually moved a few blocks away. It's now 166 three and St Nicholas knowing that eventually got me into politics and here we are today.
00:40:43.080 --> 00:40:55.020 Jeff Goodman: Mark was there a defining moment when with something particularly happen and you said, I have to see that that this credit union was born, or was it was it as series and succession of experiences and events that led you to
00:40:55.200 --> 00:40:57.210 Mark Levine: Well, my students and their families.
00:40:58.320 --> 00:40:58.890 They
00:41:00.060 --> 00:41:19.980 Mark Levine: Relied on check cashing stores and pawn shop shops and loan sharks and rent to own stores. Instead of banks and credit cards and mortgages just profoundly unfair and just a massive obstacle to get at in life and
00:41:21.780 --> 00:41:33.600 Mark Levine: When we started working in Washington Heights. We did surveys and majority of the law income families. I think we serve it over 1000 families did not have bank accounts, just to give one simple fact.
00:41:33.630 --> 00:41:34.020 Wow.
00:41:35.040 --> 00:41:49.680 Mark Levine: Commonly, that meant they had to keep cash at home and all the problems with that very intense loan shark industry really pressed on East US known commonly across to me to say, Mr. Mr. Some Washington Heights.
00:41:51.120 --> 00:42:04.260 Mark Levine: With interest rates of five and 10% a week with a threat of violence. If you don't repay. And so people trying to start opening bodegas on Preston Mr loans, just a huge barrier and
00:42:05.430 --> 00:42:13.740 Mark Levine: We really wanted to get people an alternative a credit union which is a cooperative owned by the members we quickly grew to 5000 members and
00:42:14.370 --> 00:42:22.830 Mark Levine: As of today, I think it's may close to $30 million dollars and small loans 98% repayment rate, by the way, which is a huge testament to Washington nights.
00:42:23.250 --> 00:42:23.940 Jeff Goodman: That's great.
00:42:25.050 --> 00:42:30.090 Jeff Goodman: When did you first decide to to run for office and wasn't for district leader.
00:42:31.440 --> 00:42:40.500 Mark Levine: No, actually I did everything backwards. I first ran and then later joined the democratic club and join my community board and
00:42:41.850 --> 00:42:55.500 Mark Levine: Became a district leader, but actually ran for the first time in 2001 as a total novice. I just mentioned out Otter frustration with first with the city's failures in the school system.
00:42:57.630 --> 00:43:06.600 Mark Levine: And secondly, what what I felt was cities failure to really understand and do anything about community economic development and
00:43:07.440 --> 00:43:15.690 Mark Levine: I still believe really deeply in the nonprofit sector, but I just felt like you need policy change ultimately and 2012 was the first time.
00:43:16.170 --> 00:43:27.240 Mark Levine: WE EVER HAD term limits it in New York City. And we'd had a legendary Council Member representing us. Oh, Rob knows well guy by the name of Stanley Michaels.
00:43:27.990 --> 00:43:42.300 Mark Levine: Would sort of the community for 24 years and so he was stepping out of the seat open seat and I threw my hat in the ring. It was a crazy 10 way race ended up coming to a close second, and got the blog and
00:43:43.650 --> 00:43:44.460 Mark Levine: Eventually,
00:43:45.480 --> 00:43:50.580 Mark Levine: Broke broke through in 2013 and please to represent the district ever since.
00:43:51.600 --> 00:44:03.270 Jeff Goodman: And you have a position of such important leadership on the Council, you're the Chair of the Committee on Health, you know, talking about getting into a bigger role than you thought you took on the role of
00:44:04.410 --> 00:44:07.860 Jeff Goodman: Chair of the of the health committee before before coven
00:44:08.250 --> 00:44:16.020 Jeff Goodman: You know rediscovering New York is is not a program about public policy and government but but since I have you as my captive guests struck down
00:44:16.320 --> 00:44:25.590 Jeff Goodman: I want to ask you, you know, what have been some a few of the responsibilities that you were tasked with unexpectedly that, you know, completely hit you out of left field.
00:44:25.680 --> 00:44:29.850 Mark Levine: Well, okay. I wanted to share the Health Committee to deal with.
00:44:31.200 --> 00:44:32.520 Mark Levine: An equity and health.
00:44:33.870 --> 00:44:45.990 Mark Levine: And I expected that that the kind of crisis that we would do with the be maybe like Legionnaires outbreak or, you know, spraying for West Nile virus or something like that, then anticipate
00:44:47.370 --> 00:44:50.880 Mark Levine: Serving as healthcare during a pandemic and it's been
00:44:52.290 --> 00:44:55.950 Mark Levine: An experience unlike any other in my life over the last six months.
00:44:57.870 --> 00:45:03.090 Mark Levine: And I felt that my my my mission has been to fight for sides.
00:45:04.560 --> 00:45:12.870 Mark Levine: At a time when is that that perspective has been under threat nationally and even here in New York at times and
00:45:16.140 --> 00:45:28.680 Mark Levine: I feel like that perspective has been vindicated as scientists told us what would happen. And we're right and it told us what we needed to do and when we didn't do it situation got worse and that fights not over.
00:45:30.750 --> 00:45:37.200 Mark Levine: And I've also felt like my role has been to force the perspective of places like Washington Heights on to the agenda.
00:45:39.210 --> 00:45:43.470 Mark Levine: Which have just paid of rural price for
00:45:44.730 --> 00:45:55.290 Mark Levine: Decades of public policy which is which leftist community really vulnerable to this pandemic and so much about this neighborhood has
00:45:56.310 --> 00:45:58.290 Mark Levine: led to higher death rates and
00:45:59.490 --> 00:46:05.490 Mark Levine: More difficult economic blow. And that's still true today. And so what I'm still fighting for.
00:46:06.540 --> 00:46:09.060 Jeff Goodman: communities of color have been hit especially hard
00:46:10.710 --> 00:46:20.790 Jeff Goodman: Sadly, well, we're going to take a short break and when we come back we're going to continue our discussion with COUNCILMEMBER Mark Levine from Washington Heights will be back in a moment.
00:48:11.490 --> 00:48:19.050 Jeff Goodman: We're back to rediscovering New York and our episode in Washington Heights, my second guest is COUNCILMEMBER Mark Levine, who represents the seventh district.
00:48:19.320 --> 00:48:30.570 Jeff Goodman: Which includes the southern part of Washington Heights and I want to get to asking you about your neighborhood in a minute, but for those people who know me, I really am a Political Junkie. I will ask you another question. Do you remember the Progressive Caucus
00:48:31.680 --> 00:48:41.280 Jeff Goodman: You want to talk about the Progressive Caucus for for a minute and what you do and and the role that it's played in impacting policy in the city.
00:48:42.720 --> 00:48:47.310 Mark Levine: Well, it's a it's a group of about 20 members who I think perhaps more now who
00:48:48.390 --> 00:48:59.700 Mark Levine: Will put economic justice racial justice social justice at at the front of everything we do and it's created a forum for
00:49:00.780 --> 00:49:19.230 Mark Levine: Producing policy built on those values which can quickly gain momentum when you have 20 people who can immediately jump on to sponsor each other's bills. We can brief each other on on emerging policy issues and legislation and think it's playing an important role in the Council for
00:49:20.610 --> 00:49:23.250 Mark Levine: Certainly both, both the terms, I've
00:49:24.450 --> 00:49:41.670 Mark Levine: Been in the body and and I'm hoping will be important for us as we face the greatest challenge the city's encountered in generations. And I think also have an opportunity to come back as a city, which is
00:49:43.320 --> 00:49:47.760 Mark Levine: More fair which confronts the inequality and racial injustice and
00:49:49.860 --> 00:49:51.840 Mark Levine: The though we might not come back as the same city.
00:49:52.860 --> 00:49:55.440 Mark Levine: Come back as a stronger city for those reasons.
00:49:55.740 --> 00:49:56.040 Um,
00:49:57.150 --> 00:50:06.390 Jeff Goodman: Well, that brings us to the heights to Washington Heights, you and your family have lived there for a long time. Describe the vibe of the neighborhood. What do you like about
00:50:07.860 --> 00:50:13.800 Mark Levine: It is just absolutely alive with energy
00:50:15.810 --> 00:50:17.850 Mark Levine: On the streets in the stores.
00:50:18.930 --> 00:50:24.210 Mark Levine: The music new music wafting out of apartments and it is
00:50:26.790 --> 00:50:29.490 Mark Levine: The diversity is just electrifying for me.
00:50:30.930 --> 00:50:32.550 Mark Levine: Southern Washington Heights.
00:50:34.230 --> 00:50:43.920 Mark Levine: Has changed a lot less than other parts of the community, since the times in the 90s. The Rob spoke about earlier.
00:50:46.290 --> 00:50:49.950 Mark Levine: It's, it's, in some ways, it hasn't changed a lot. Even in this pandemic.
00:50:51.360 --> 00:51:00.900 Mark Levine: Now, obviously the stores are struggling, but so many immediately and moved out to outdoor dining, but this is from what I can tell, very few of last
00:51:02.460 --> 00:51:08.070 Mark Levine: Don't think there's been any drop in population and the street life is getting even more vibrant
00:51:10.680 --> 00:51:16.260 Mark Levine: Particularly over the summer or people are living outside for health reasons.
00:51:17.700 --> 00:51:24.300 Mark Levine: To the point where there is some conflict because of of amplified music on the street and people who live nearby.
00:51:26.550 --> 00:51:31.770 Mark Levine: But I mean, Dominican Spanish is heard everywhere.
00:51:34.320 --> 00:51:35.070 Mark Levine: And
00:51:36.840 --> 00:51:45.990 Mark Levine: The music and and the smells of of of the Dominican Republic are ever present very few chains.
00:51:47.220 --> 00:51:48.510 Mark Levine: Very, very few
00:51:50.940 --> 00:51:57.900 Mark Levine: Even fast food establishments, it's, it's a place which is whose soul is small businesses and
00:51:58.980 --> 00:52:04.140 Mark Levine: bodegas and restaurants, which have been here for 20 3040 years
00:52:05.820 --> 00:52:07.350 Jeff Goodman: I'm getting hungry just here coffee.
00:52:07.410 --> 00:52:07.710 Mark Levine: Yeah.
00:52:07.770 --> 00:52:09.630 Mark Levine: The restaurant come up town.
00:52:09.900 --> 00:52:12.090 Mark Levine: Come up town. But look, I, I woke.
00:52:12.450 --> 00:52:14.850 Jeff Goodman: Up, down, I live, I live on 100 30th Street that
00:52:15.510 --> 00:52:16.770 Jeff Goodman: You're the first one that I did.
00:52:17.190 --> 00:52:21.270 Mark Levine: Well we relative relative to the heights. I guess downtown, but
00:52:23.010 --> 00:52:27.690 Mark Levine: You know, I don't want to minimize the challenges of the neighborhood. I don't want to gloss over that.
00:52:28.470 --> 00:52:37.200 Mark Levine: From a small business perspective, we've lost a heartbreaking number of small businesses prior to the pandemic. I'm talking about. I mean, I fear will lose many more now but
00:52:38.130 --> 00:52:49.770 Mark Levine: Because of rising rents and other challenges and running a small business, we've lost some really beloved restaurants and other small businesses here. It's been terrible and
00:52:51.390 --> 00:52:57.540 Mark Levine: And we've lost residents who have faced unscrupulous landlords we've pushed people out
00:52:59.550 --> 00:53:10.170 Mark Levine: That that has been just just an absolute horrible battle that we've been waiting through the reason why I have worked for the last
00:53:11.520 --> 00:53:14.070 Mark Levine: Seven years on right to counsel is because
00:53:15.540 --> 00:53:22.470 Mark Levine: We've had tenants for decades in this neighborhood who have faced eviction and gone housing court and haven't had an attorney.
00:53:22.920 --> 00:53:39.180 Mark Levine: And that battles ongoing so real challenges here, but through it all remains a very vibrant and and place diverse wonderful mix of community of cultures here and for encourage everyone to come and visit
00:53:40.110 --> 00:53:47.910 Jeff Goodman: Is there anything and what you've lived in the heights for 15 years maybe I've done something 2525 sorry. Oops, sorry I undercounted that by 10
00:53:47.910 --> 00:53:57.870 Jeff Goodman: Okay. Um, is there anything that that you wish was in the neighborhood that was not mark. Anything you'd like to see that that from a business perspective from
00:53:59.340 --> 00:54:07.650 Jeff Goodman: From any services that aren't there right now that also might give someone listening to the program thinking maybe it's a good time for me to think about providing that in the community.
00:54:08.880 --> 00:54:10.920 Mark Levine: You may from from a retail perspective or
00:54:10.920 --> 00:54:12.690 Jeff Goodman: Anything, anything that would be
00:54:12.780 --> 00:54:19.740 Jeff Goodman: You know that would that would provide something that's not there now could be retail. It could be could be community service. It could be, it could be anything.
00:54:21.930 --> 00:54:22.500 Mark Levine: Sure.
00:54:24.450 --> 00:54:33.330 Mark Levine: I mean, we have we've lost so much we've lost shoe repairs. We've lost flower shops.
00:54:35.340 --> 00:54:40.320 Mark Levine: None of which live. Now, none of which are currently operating in this part of Washington Heights.
00:54:41.670 --> 00:54:49.110 Mark Levine: It's always been harder to get fresh organic healthy produce here although
00:54:50.280 --> 00:54:55.170 Mark Levine: We've had a couple new supermarkets open, believe it or not. And the last couple of years.
00:54:56.610 --> 00:54:58.830 Mark Levine: Which which has helped on that front.
00:55:02.250 --> 00:55:09.600 Mark Levine: You know, I don't know what the landscape is going to look like post golden. I don't know how many of the restaurants will survive.
00:55:11.220 --> 00:55:24.360 Mark Levine: I'm really worried about that but I fear, there's going to be a lot of vacant storefronts and as I mentioned this, we didn't have the chain of education that we saw and other neighborhoods and
00:55:26.160 --> 00:55:32.160 Mark Levine: I think there's still a real appetite for mom and pop restaurants and bars and
00:55:34.110 --> 00:55:43.320 Mark Levine: I hope that entrepreneurs will come into this neighborhood and take advantage of small rents. I hope that people from this neighborhood.
00:55:43.830 --> 00:55:51.060 Mark Levine: Can take advantage of lower rents and we'll see a new generation of businesses, if there's
00:55:51.570 --> 00:56:03.630 Mark Levine: Any upside and this health escape of this pandemic. It's that we could see a renaissance of affordability, both in residential and retail and it does give me hope that this will remain a community where
00:56:04.950 --> 00:56:09.480 Mark Levine: People of all walks of life can continue to afford to start businesses and live
00:56:10.260 --> 00:56:24.990 Jeff Goodman: I thought the same thing being in real estate that, you know, similarly, the after September 11 will be, you know, rents will go down in some level retail rents especially and there may be new people with new ideas and new businesses who decide, you know, the time is right for them to
00:56:27.120 --> 00:56:29.100 Jeff Goodman: Open their business and you know make their claim.
00:56:29.280 --> 00:56:34.440 Jeff Goodman: Yeah, we haven't been a minute left. I want to ask you one other question when I have a business owner on the segment.
00:56:34.890 --> 00:56:46.050 Jeff Goodman: I asked him if they have plans to open another business in the neighborhood that we're talking about. It's a little bit different with you, since you're subject to the Council's term limits and it's not like you can create a new Council position and in Washington Heights.
00:56:47.190 --> 00:56:54.300 Jeff Goodman: You're looking to a larger horizon with your candidacy to succeed. Our wonderful borough president. She's a wonderful Borough President Gale Brewer.
00:56:55.530 --> 00:56:58.170 Jeff Goodman: What did you decide to run for for borough president
00:57:00.630 --> 00:57:09.060 Mark Levine: Well, I start, I start I launched my campaign prior to call it. But then of course changed everything. And I feel like the future. The girls on the line right now.
00:57:11.460 --> 00:57:13.890 Mark Levine: And this is a moment of extraordinary crisis.
00:57:15.540 --> 00:57:25.830 Mark Levine: And how we respond is going to determine what kind of city. We're going to be. And I'm putting forward a platform.
00:57:27.420 --> 00:57:29.910 Mark Levine: That values public space and open space.
00:57:31.140 --> 00:57:36.210 Mark Levine: Values affordability true affordable housing and tenants rights.
00:57:37.440 --> 00:57:42.990 Mark Levine: Values mom and pop businesses, which gives our community, the soul and
00:57:44.580 --> 00:57:53.190 Mark Levine: Wants to see us come back, economically and prosper, but do it in a way that is inclusive shared prosperity. It doesn't just go to people at the top.
00:57:53.640 --> 00:58:01.350 Mark Levine: But that people in all economic levels benefit from. And if we had more time, I can talk about talk to you about how I think I needs to
00:58:01.650 --> 00:58:06.420 Mark Levine: Need to accomplish that. But it's going to be challenging. This is not going to be an easy couple of years.
00:58:06.780 --> 00:58:14.670 Mark Levine: Or New York. I don't want to minimize that, but I believe with every fiber of my being that we're going to come back and I've been doing a lot of rereading of history.
00:58:15.210 --> 00:58:29.790 Mark Levine: Books and during the crisis since I've been home. I'm actually rereading Gotham right now and you just see again and again that through crisis through fire and epidemics and great blizzards that
00:58:30.990 --> 00:58:43.980 Mark Levine: We come back in a way that makes us better. So, you know, after the fire. We both have of 1835 we built the Croton aqua tough and after the Great blizzard of 1888 We sunk.
00:58:45.000 --> 00:58:52.230 Mark Levine: telephone lines or telegraph lines and built an underground subway and after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
00:58:53.160 --> 00:58:58.560 Mark Levine: Fire. We had much greater workplace safety protections and strengthen labor movement.
00:58:58.950 --> 00:59:08.700 Mark Levine: And I'm confident we're going to come back and stronger ways that the public health imperative and economic imperatives that emerge out of this horrible crisis will ensure that we come back stronger.
00:59:09.060 --> 00:59:19.560 Mark Levine: I think more equitable and healthier and that's my mission and running to be the next Manhattan Borough President to succeed, the legendary and amazing Gale Brewer, who had the wisdom to a point.
00:59:20.160 --> 00:59:26.370 Mark Levine: Rob Snyder as our portal his story that's going to go down as one, the great pieces of her legacy. I know.
00:59:27.390 --> 00:59:37.680 Jeff Goodman: Me as well well over the gold spark. Glad to have you as a dedicated public service and thank you and thank you for your leadership in your work and wish you the best of success in your campaign.
00:59:38.130 --> 00:59:39.450 Mark Levine: Thank you, Jeff. It's been a pleasure.
00:59:40.050 --> 00:59:49.230 Jeff Goodman: Our second guest on this episode of Washington on Washington Heights has been COUNCILMEMBER Mark Levine Mark represents the seventh district, which includes the southern part of Washington Heights.
00:59:49.830 --> 00:59:56.190 Jeff Goodman: If you have comments or questions about the show, or if you'd like to get on our mailing list, please email me, Jeff at rediscovering New York at NYC.
00:59:56.760 --> 01:00:00.420 Jeff Goodman: You can like us on Facebook. And you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
01:00:01.140 --> 01:00:11.130 Jeff Goodman: Once again, I'd like to thank our sponsors Chris pappas mortgage banker TD Bank and the Law Offices of time so yaka focusing on wills estate planning probate and inheritance litigation.
01:00:11.640 --> 01:00:18.690 Jeff Goodman: One more thing before we sign off, I'm Jeff Goodman, a real estate agent at Brown Harris Stevens New York City and whether you're selling, buying leasing or renting
01:00:18.990 --> 01:00:30.600 Jeff Goodman: My team and I provide the best service and expertise in New York City, real estate to help you with your real estate needs. You can reach us at 646-306-4761 our producers Ralph story or
01:00:31.140 --> 01:00:37.530 Jeff Goodman: Our engineer this evening is the amazing Sam Leibowitz our special consultant is David Griffin of landmark branding.
01:00:38.220 --> 01:00:40.230 Jeff Goodman: Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.