(UPDATED SEPT. 12) As AdaptNY’s Harlem Heat Project evolves, we’re not just gathering indoor heat data from residents there. We’re also inviting our community collaborators to share their heat-related stories. With the help of our project partner ISeeChange, the citizens of Harlem can offer their insights and observations as the summer season brings heat, and occasional relief. See a few selections below. And tell us your own Harlem Heat story here, or for mobile users, via the Apple app here.
“This summer has been over the top. I live in an SRO with limited space, and buying an air conditioner and having it installed is a problem. It’s not easy. I have to figure out a way to do it because it was unbearable and my fan did nothing. My windows are open, too, but it was just not enough. Previous years, back in the day, I had my own personal space so I could take a bath, but here, we share bathrooms and kitchens. There is an air conditioned tenant room, but those folding chairs are not designed to sit in for a length of time; what’a worse: sitting in a folding chair or in your room? Plus, for some reason, our buses have been very slow, coming every 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes, so you’re sitting or standing waiting.” — Euline Williams, Washington Heights
“Every year, when things get humid, it’s like a cooking pot. There’s a bad odor, I think coming through the window. I’m not sure if it’s sewage or old building materials like lead or mold, activated by the heat. It used to be worse when Riverbank State Park had the waste treatment plant. Now it thickens and gets musty when it gets humid.” — Raquel Morrison, Harlem
Morningside Park is crowded with folks getting outside and enjoying one of Harlem’s Historical Parks on a hot afternoon.
Riverside Park is pretty empty compared to how it will be in September when West Side Soccer League and Fall baseball are in full swing. On Saturday it was an empty Promenade and a just one group of people enjoying their picnic.
The ease by which the press and release of a digital button can create air conditioning zones for the comfort level of different people would be considered sorcery in an antique world.
Here I relax, the passenger lounging at 65-degrees F, the driver coasting a few degrees warmer at 69-degrees F, all while outside the shell the temperature is a balmy 84-degrees F in these end days of summer.
Reading through the below article in The New Yorker from June 1998 entitled “Before Air-Conditioning” by Arthur Miller, the depictions of my neighborhood of Harlem in New York City living in the 1920’s and 30’s is like dancing with sheer poetry:
“It’s very hot in [my kids’] room — it’s the hottest room in the apartment. The kids are five and seven years old, in bunk beds, but my daughter avoids the top bunk because of heat. Instead, she sleeps on an air mattress on the floor.” — Gabriel Bencosme, Harlem
— rae ❤❤❤
Morningside Park, one of the 5 historical parks in Harlem is packed with people cooking bar-b-que, playing music, and relaxing in the neighborhood. It’s packed and will stay this way until 10:00pm. People want to get out of their apts. and cool down. However there are not enough bathroom facilities to serve the people. No port-a-sans at all.
A few blocks away in Riverside Park between 96th and 120th it’s an empty Sunday afternoon. In an affluent neighborhood where folks can afford to go away on vacation. The soccer fields are empty and the promenade is empty as well.
This scene will be reversed as the season changes and temps cool down. Morningside will be empty on the weekends and Riverside will be full with West Side Soccer League players. There will also be ample bathroom facilities for players and their families.
I’ll try to snap some photos to illustrate what I am talking about.
On the strange side, toothpaste comes flowing out of the tube because the heat has softened the contents inside. Hot water comes out of my cold water pipes. The glass on the windows facing west are too hot to touch. When I step out from a cold shower to cool that is when I notice how hot my wooden floors are.
With indoor temperatures rising to uncomfortable conditions during extreme heat events, keep in mind that the animals we keep as pets and often consider a part of our family and friends also suffer from its negative impacts.