The Party’s Used To Be On The Best Stoops Of Harlem, New York

359684bbd44a5cde8b5cb85f96a73e35Great stories about stoop parties with barbecue grills, boomboxes and more in New York City and more specifically Harlem, New York.

Here’s the excerpt from the article The Party’s on the Best Sidewalks of New York from the New York Times:

Why stoops in Harlem are peppered on summer nights with barbeque grills and boomboxes while the stoops of Lower Manhattan are used more as Carrie did in “Sex and the City” — as a platform for the occasional late-night talk with a friend, good-night kiss from a date or to smoke the solitary cigarette — is an old story that is mostly about economics.

“Up until the mid-19th century serving refreshments and socializing on the stoops was done by every income group all over the city,” said Charles Lockwood, the author of “Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House 1783-1929.” “But in the late 19th century the tenement districts became hugely overpopulated by immigrants swarming on the stoops. That created a stigma to the stoop, and by that time it became obligatory for the upper classes to leave the city for the summer anyway, so partying on the stoop went out of favor.”

Similar social currents continue today. In affluent neighborhoods with an air-conditioner in every window, plentiful sidewalk cafes and ready access to a summer getaway, the social potential of the stoop is minimized. Rare is the Upper East Side brownstone stoop used for a summer party.

But in neighborhoods with fewer air-conditioners or sidewalk restaurants, families in need of a large communal space naturally find the stoop ideal.

“In Harlem your whole extended family just winds up spilling out on the street because you need the space, and it doesn’t cost anything,” said Joaquin Maceo Rosa, 31, an actor, who grew up on 105th Street and still lives in the neighborhood.

The increased social traffic in the last five years between Harlem and Lower Manhattan, as downtowners have moved uptown and in some cases, like Mr. Walker’s, moved back downtown, has helped reintroduce the stoop as a place for a small party.

“Living up in Harlem, I used to look at all the stoop parties and think, oh my God, they are having so much fun,” said Mr. Walker, the author of a comic book series called Delete. “That’s partly why we started doing them.”

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