Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill Book Launch

Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill Book Launch

James A. and Ruth M. Bailey House, Photo Courtesy of Tom Miller
  • Uncover why the Dutch named this area in northern Manhattan “Haarlem” in 1658
  • See inside the opulent Bailey Mansion built for the co-founder of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus
  • Learn about the Dutch De Forest family’s NYC connections, from their 1639 arrival and influence on the development of Hamilton Heights to their connection to The Metropolitan Museum of art
  • Peek into the legendary literary salons of the Harlem Renaissance at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue
  • Dive into the history of Convent Avenue, home to NYC’s earliest co-op, co-founder of National Urban League, City College, Billy Strayhorn’s house, and Hamilton Grange (for 119 years until it moved after it was moved the first time)

About the event:

Davida Siwisa James’ nonfiction book Hamilton Heights and Sugar Hill traces this picturesque section of West Harlem from the 1600s and its first two centuries as lush farmland to its urban growth. In this talk, Insiders will learn of the 1710 land divisions of the Harlem common lands stretching to Inwood, dive into century-old texts that aided the author in tracing how Hamilton’s country home, The Grange, was used after his death, and look behind the scenes of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, where George Washington headquartered after his 1776 victory in the Battle of Harlem Heights.

As we move forward in time, we’ll learn of the creative geniuses nurtured and awakened here. This neighborhood is where George Gershwin wrote his first hit, where a young Norman Rockwell discovered he liked to draw, and where Ralph Ellison wrote his opus, Invisible Man. As we travel through time, we’ll make a virtual stop at the 8,200 square foot Romanesque mansion of James A. Bailey, built in 1883.

In dispelling some of the negative misconceptions about Harlem, Davida will highlight the stunning neighborhood architecture and Gothic spires of City College, a stunning historic landmark. Our journey will take us through The Great Migration and Harlem Renaissance, introducing the luminaries who called Harlem home such as Thurgood Marshall, Duke Ellington, and Mary Lou Williams. Four decades of gentrification now offer surprising demographic changes for what was once the Black mecca.

About Davida Siwisa James

Davida Siwisa James is a Philly native and longtime L.A. resident. She grew up in Morningside Heights and then Hamilton Heights in New York City and also lived in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Davida has a BA in English from UCLA and attended Penn State Dickinson Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As a university public relations director, she was editor of its magazine.

Her short story “The Commute” was published in the Pushcart Prize-winning issue of The Caribbean Writer, an international literary journal. She has a twenty-year career in performing arts marketing and finance management. The author was a freelance journalist for the twice Pulitzer Prize-winning Virgin Islands Daily News. Her three other publications include her
memoir The South Africa of His Heart.

Attendees will receive a link to join the webinar after completing the registration.

Photo Credits

  • Courtesy New York Public Library BACK ROW (L:R): Ethel Ray (Nance), Langston Hughes, Helen Lanning, Pearl Fisher, Rudolph Fisher, Luella Tucker, Clarissa Scott, Hubert Delany. FRONT ROW: Regina Anderson (Andrews), Esther Popel, Jessie Fauset, Marie Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier]
  • People around piano in Mary Lou Williams Hamilton Heights apartment: L:R Jack Teagarden, Dixie Bailey, Mary Lou Williams, Tadd Dameron, Hank Jones, Dizzy Gillespie (hidden next to pianist), and Milt Orent. Courtesy: William P. Gottlieb / Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Library of Congress, 1947
Ready to join this webinar?
Ready to join this webinar?
Comments are closed.