Health Department’s Center for Health Equity Announces East Harlem Community Walking Trail

The walking trail was developed by East Harlem residents, community organizations, elected officials and City agencies

Route includes cultural institutions, public art, historic landmarks and neighborhood assets that promote community health

November 19, 2016 – The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity and community partners today launched the East Harlem Community Walking Trail

#walking trail
a three mile pathway along East Harlem sidewalks that runs east and west along 106th and 115th Streets, connecting residents to Central Park and Randall’s Island. The trail, which is marked by a series of street poll banners, highlights East Harlem’s rich cultural history and community assets while encouraging physical activity and improved safety through coordinated group walks. The East Harlem Community Walking Trail is the result of a year-long effort spearheaded by the East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center and a steering committee composed of community partners, working together to better understand the condition of the streetscape in East Harlem.  A map of the trail can be found here, On.nyc.gov/walkingtrail.

“Through the Center for Health Equity, the Department is confronting all of the factors that prevent too many New Yorkers from living a healthy life,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It is wonderful to see the community walking trail come together as another asset that promotes physical activity in East Harlem, while also highlighting the unique cultural assets of the neighborhood.”

“Every one of us has a role to play in making our neighborhoods healthier and just places to live,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity. “The East Harlem Community Walking Trail is a testament to what can happen when a neighborhood organizes and amplifies resident voices in order to improve their environment so that everybody can thrive.”

The trail’s steering committee curated a path that includes cultural institutions, public art and historic landmarks of East Harlem including the Julia De Burgos Latino Cultural Center, East Harlem’s Pleasant Avenue (Little Italy), the Ward’s Island Bridge, El Cataño Garden and several public art installations. The trail route also includes community assets that promote health such as the PS 57 Youthmarket, La Placita De La Marqueta and the East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center (formerly the East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office) at 158 East 115th Street – a co-located space bringing together Health Department programs, community based organizations and a primary care clinic in one building to coordinate care and engage in neighborhood health planning.

“East Harlem is a neighborhood that has a rich history and access to some of New York City’s greatest green spaces, including Central Park and Randall’s Island,” said Dr. Noel Manyindo, Assistant Commissioner of the Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Centers. “In collaboration with community partners, the East Harlem Community Walking Trail was developed to create a path which highlights this rich community history along a safer and more enjoyable walking space.”

The East Harlem Community Walking Trail is an outstanding example of community-based organizations, residents and city agencies coming together to promote public safety and physical activity, while celebrating East Harlem’s rich and vibrant culture. Building Healthy Communities (BHC), a public-private partnership to promote good health, proudly supports the East Harlem Community Walking Trail. This work is part of a bigger picture of private investments in East Harlem, including the development of an urban farm at NYCHA’s Wagner Houses and the first Spanish language Shape Up NYC training, among other community led investments by BHC,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director, Office of Strategic Partnerships.

“I am especially excited about this announcement because many of the City’s accessible pathways happen to be in parks and include greenways, boardwalks, and dirt trails,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The addition of the East Harlem Community Walking Trail means that New Yorkers throughout the city now have more space to walk, whether for their commute to work, exercise, or simple fun.”

“There is no better way to get to know Harlem’s history, beauty, and magic than to walk it. Thank you to everyone at the New York City Health Department and those who contributed to make the East Harlem Community Walking Trail a reality. I am certain everyone walking on the trail will feel more recharged, healthier and connected as a community,” said Congressman Charles B. Rangel.

“The opening of the East Harlem Community Walking Trail marks the culmination of a collaborative effort to encourage exercise while highlighting our vibrant history,” said Assembly Member Robert Rodríguez. “I applaud the New York City Health Department and the walking trail steering committee members for their great work on this project.”

“The East Harlem Community Walking Trail is a fun, informative and family friendly way to promote health and wellness in El Barrio. The walking tour will provide residents of East Harlem a positive way to get out and walk for at least 30 minutes per day, all while learning about the rich history of the neighborhood. Many thanks to the New York City Health Department and the East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center for promoting healthy initiatives in East Harlem,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano.

Our Cada Paso families have been privileged to contribute to the Community Walking Trail,” said Dr. Cappy Collins, Founder of Nullary Care and Project Leader for Cada Paso. “Walking, itself, is a simple and effective way to improve health.  Further, it is a great mechanism for uniting the stakeholders and positively transforming the neighborhood to benefit all the residents. It is very empowering for our Cada Paso families to have contributed to identifying neighborhood concerns, improving street safety, and organizing programming around a common theme.”

CIVITAS has been honored to participate on the New York City Health Department’s East Harlem Community Walking Trail steering committee as it pursues the creation of a safe and engaging new walking trail in East Harlem,” said Maura Smotrich, Project Manager, Esplanade and Environment, CIVITAS. “We strongly endorse this effort to delineate public space in the built environment for improving the community's physical and mental health.

Download the map of the trail (PDF)

The walking trail is a collaborative project led by the Center for Health Equity’s East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center and a steering committee composed of neighborhood partners including: Cada Paso, CIVITAS, Concrete Safaris, Community Board 11, The Partnership for a Healthier Manhattan, the New York Academy of Medicine, New Yorkers for Parks, New York Road Runners, the Partnership for Parks, Building Healthy Communities (an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Fund for Public Health), the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Department of Transportation, with funding provided by the New York State Health Foundation and Creating Healthy Schools and Communities. The steering committee engaged in a process on how to measure the safety, maintenance, beauty and overall walkability in the neighborhood. The result of this collaboration is a physical path that highlights East Harlem’s rich community history and resources along a safer and more enjoyable walking space.

About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity

Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. The Neighborhood Health Action Centers, opening soon, will better link residents with local primary care and community services. The Action Centers will also provide space for community-based organizations and Health Department staff to work together to advance neighborhood health. For more information on the Center for Health Equity, visit Center for Health Equity.

Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Carolina Rodríguez  (347) 396-4177 PressOffice@health.nyc.gov