Our guests this week as we journey to Harlem will be Rediscovering New York regular Joyce Gold of Joyce Gold History tours, and Harlem resident and business owner Karl Franz Williams, of 67 Orange Street, and Solomon and Kuff.
Jeff introduces his first guest, Joyce Gold of Joyce Gold History Tours, a regular on the show. Joyce goes into the early history of Harlem. The Delaware Indians were the original residents of Harlem when the Dutch first arrived in the area. Harlem was a farming community for much of the Dutch period during the 1650s. Harlem is named after a well-known town in the Netherlands. The British tried to change the name of Harlem but New Yorkers did not allow this to happen. One of the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, purchased a hill in Harlem and built a magnificent home in the area in the early. This area is now called Harlem Heights. In the late 18th and 19th century, Harlem was mostly a rural community until the introduction of advanced transportation.
Jeff returns the show to Harlem and brings up the lesser known ethnic communities that lived in Harlem. Joyce goes into the different groups Harlem hosted. Joyce mentions houses of worship and food stays in neighborhoods the longest. Jeff explains how there was both active Jewish and Italian mafia in Harlem at once. Joyce goes on to describe the history discrimination in Harlem including when Penn Station was established it caused the uprooting of many African American families sparking riots. In the 1920’s, Joyce explains, Harlem was the center of many social justice movements. Over the Depression Harlem faced a lot of trouble. Residents often resorted to rent parties to survive.
The second interview is with Karl Franz Williams. Karl talks about his education as an engineer and his surprising jump from engineering to marketing with Procter and Gamble. Karl recalls how while living in Puerto Rico the inspiration for 67 Orange Street was planted. Years later, after first opening and running Society Coffee, Karl opened 67 Orange Street in Harlem. Karl speaks on his time with PepsiCo about his work on the innovation team. Jeff recalls his positive experience at 67 Orange Street, particularity the variety of cocktails and spirits.
Karl talks about the history of Harlem, its wide streets and parks all being factors of what makes the area attractive to him. He talks about how he still loves the parks in the area and how he is able to take his family to enjoy them as well. Karl talks about the different personalities you can find in Harlem from someone working out on the corner to the legendary Dapper Dan and the sense of community found among all these characters. Karl discusses the changes he’s seen in Harlem over the years from vacant lots being turned into buildings to drug activity transforming into families. He talks about his feelings on gentrification and the fear of it being about displacement, as well as how he’s been accused of being a gentrifier in the area.