by Megan Fitzpatrick

A new exhibit is now on display at the Bloomingdale Library rediscovering a lost community on West 98th and 99th Streets between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.

Created by Rob Garber for the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group, the exhibit is being shown at the Bloomingdale branch of the public library on West 100th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. The exhibition explores “how a Black neighborhood began, flourished for half a century, then was abruptly destroyed” through Robert Moses’ Urban Renewal.

This little known history is also about a community of Black artists from Billie Holiday to Arturo Schomburg, who thrived in a tight-knit, middle income community, in an affluent area of the Upper West Side.


It began when realtor Philip Payton Jr. began leasing properties in this mostly white neighborhood to Black tenants, beginning in 1905. He is also attributed to opening up Harlem to Black tenants.

This community, known affectionately by former residents as ‘The Old Community’, came to an end in the 1950s with the City deeming it a ‘slum’, a contested term, and clearing it through the process of Urban Renewal, to be replaced by affordable housing.

You can view the exhibition on display through February 29, 2024 and read more about The Old Community on our blog HERE.

AND Rob Garber will present a program for LANDMARK WEST! on Morningside Heights and the “Greatest 19th Century Photo” to kick off our program’s NEXT YEAR on January 11th, 2024. Please join us and support our work!


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