“Emblems of the Decade: Borders” by artist, Amalia Mesa-Bains, with the assistance of Jon Sanchez
Untapped Cities has been following the restoration of the abandoned firehouse located at 120 East 125th Street in East Harlem since 2014. The firehouse, built in 1889, and one of five saved from the auction block, has been converted into a cultural institution as the new home of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), thanks to the efforts of City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Entrance to CCCADI, located in the long abandoned firehouse at 120 East 125th Street
At the helm of CCCADI is its founder, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, whose mission is to create an environment filled with exhibits and educational workshops, including workshops on Yoruba culture and religion. The nonprofit is dedicated to honoring and documenting the cultures of Africa in the New World. Located on 125th Street in East Harlem, CCCADI is next to the 125th Street Metro North Station, the New Harlem East Merchant Association (NHEMA) pop-up shops and green market, a block away from the historic Corn Exchange Building, and two blocks away from the National Black Theatre and Elizabeth Dee Gallery to the west, and the Demolition Depot to the east.
Street level gallery with the first part of a three-part inaugural exhibit
Beyond the entrance and the front desk, is the first floor gallery, exhibiting Part 1 of the inaugural three-part exhibition. Home, Memory and Future features the work of three renowned photographers, Dawoud Bey, Chester Higgins, and Hiram Maristany, whose work you will remember from his solo exhibit about Harlem’s El Barrio at Hunter East Harlem Gallery in 2015.
Entrance to the first floor gallery featuring three renowned Harlem photographers
Second floor gallery space in the newly renovated CCCADI firehouse
Part II, entitled Harlem and Home in the Global Context is installed on the second floor, and features work by painters, sculptors and installation artists, each expressing the concept of “Home” and how we recreate, imagine, and reconstruct cultural traditions. Photos of a few of the installations in Part II are shown below.
“Gal vez el hogar no es un lugar sino simplemente una condición irrevocable” (“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”) by artist Adrian ‘Viajero’ Roman
“A mis adorables hijas” or “To my darling daughters” by artist Pepon Osorio
“Sea of Wonder” by artist Scherezade Garcia
Part III, entitled Augmented Reality is a virtual exhibition, highlighting the surrounding neighborhood. Download the mobile app and explore East Harlem and its significant sites from East 104th Street to East 127th Street, including sites like La Marqueta, the African Burial Ground, the National Black Theatre, and many of the historic murals.
The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute ( CCCADI ) is located at 120 East 125th Street, just east of the #4-5-6 subway station. Check the CCCADI website for dates and times of tours. The beautifully renovated center is wheelchair accessible.
Photo of the abandoned firehouse in 2014, before the restoration
Next, check out Abandoned Firehouse in Harlem to Become New Cultural Center. You can contact the author at AFineLyne.