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MCNY Moving Downtown

By Jose B. Rivera

Picture of the Museum of the City of New York located in East Harlem

East Harlem, January 1, 2001 - The Museum of the City of New York has decided, with Mayor Giulliani’s prompting, to move from its current location at 103rd Street and 5th Avenue in East Harlem to 52 Chambers Street near City Hall. The official excuse is that the Museum can raise more money moving closer to Wall Street.

Local Leaders and one elected official reacted negatively to the deal. Community Board # 11 Chairman David Givens was surprised by the news that the museum was moving and was not too happy about being kept in the dark about the move. Community Board # 11 Cultural Affairs Chairwoman, Debbie Quinones was also surprised by the move. And East Harlem Councilman Phil Reed held a press conference to show his disapproval of the move.

Many East Harlem residents were left with the question, “What’s Going On Here?” Which is a very good question. The Museum’s board met and approved the motion to move the Museum within two years. The Museum has out grown the building which was specially made for it over 80 years ago. But plans were in the works to expand the museum by adding a new addition in the back courtyard. Thereby allowing it to offer more to the public. The sudden decision to move the museum can be traced to Mayor. Though this publication can’t imagine why moving a museum from museum mile would be any better than keeping it on it. As always you have to ask yourself “Who benefits from this move?”

Councilman Phil Reed speaking before Community Board # 11's December meeting about the museums proposed move

East Harlem will not benefit from the museum’s move. There will be one less reason people to visit our great community. Is the Museum’s Board of Director telling us that East Harlem in not Enough? That East Harlem is not the type of place to visit, to have a museum, that money is more important community or history?

If the Museum does move other local entities are ready to move into the building. El Museo Del Barrio is interested and so is Mt. Sinai to name a few.

But local activists have already started to organize and will be heard from shortly. The Museum of the City of New York’s move to 52 Chambers Street is not a done deal. And with the Mayor leaving office within a year, it is possible to stop the move until a new Democratic Mayor squashes the move.

East Harlem Online believes that the Museum should stay put and that the City of New York should do all financially possible to keep the Museum in East Harlem. If the Museum needs to expand, then lets find the money to get that done. But the Museum must stay in it’s home in East Harlem. East Harlem Online will keep you posted as things develop.

Update: East Harlem - January 5, 2001 - Community Board # 11’s Cultural Affairs Committee met on January 4, 2001 to begin organizing a concerted effort to keep the Museum of the City of New York in El Barrio/East Harlem. Committee Chair Debbie Quinones, distributed petitions for local residents to sign. Ms. Quinones asked for letters of support from local institutions and individuals. And a press conference has been tentatively scheduled for the week of January 7th.

Read the follow-up article about this issue
Community Board # 11 Holds A Press Conference on the MCNY Move Downtown - January 11, 2009

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