Halt the Destruction of Harlem's Historic Renaissance Casino
The golden era of the Harlem Renaissance was said to have been from 1918 to 1930. The vibrant expression of all art forms reached a crescendo during this period, with bold statements being made by Blacks in music, literature, visual arts, dance and sports. Where Blacks were excluded from participation in the mainstream manifestations of the arts, they created their own relentlessly raucously expressive modalities.
The Harry Creighton Ingalls designed Renaissance Casino located at the intersection of 138th street and Seventh ave(A Clayton Powell B'vd) was commissioned in 1920 and completed in 1922 by three eastern Caribbean immigrants, It's birth was co-temporous with the rise of Renaissance Arts movement. Over its 60 year "lifespan" it played host to every mid century manifestation of African American culture,most notably as displayed by the Rens Big Five, a litany of Big bands,performers and intellectuals of every stripe from Zora to Dubois who all had their voices heard in this revered structure.
It has lain fallow for 35 years, and now stands poised for the wrecking ball. Despite it's incontrovertible historical value, it was denied landmark status in 1991 and again in 2007 due to intense political pressure exerted upon the process by well connected Harlem real estate interests.
""THE RENNY" IS A LANDMARK WITHOUT LANDMARK STATUS, and to destroy it would be an egregious cultural assault against the Harlem community. There are no "do-overs", that was the painful lesson that issued from the destruction of Penn Station.
Mr. Mayor, we ask that you invoke any and all powers at your disposal to halt the ill considered development plan; and initiate a conversation about how this historical treasure(or elements from it) might be preserved and integrated into any construction taking place on this iconic cultural footprint.
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