Ascendant’s Cultural Resource Survey of El Barrio has been funded!

IT’S OFFICIAL: We are very proud to announce that the Preservation League of New York State awarded Ascendant a Preserve New York grant to conduct a Cultural Resource Survey of El Barrio/Southern East Harlem!

Ascendant Neighborhood Development Corporation is one of this year’s Preserve New York (PNY) grantees! The grant of $12,000 will fund a Cultural Resource Survey of Southern East Harlem. We are very grateful to the Preservation League of NYS and their program partners at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) who have made this important funding possible.

About The Survey

The El Barrio/Southern East Harlem survey area is a diverse mixed-use enclave within the larger Harlem community of Northern Manhattan. In addition to a variety of vernacular residential buildings dating from the late-1800s through the early-1900s, the area features several large-scale mid-20th century residential complexes including multiple public housing campuses.

The survey area boasts many outstanding civic, institutional, and religious structures of various architectural styles. Within the proposed study area are multiple individually designated landmarks, including Public School 109, 28th Police Precinct & Fire Engine Co. #53 Houses, St. Cecilia’s Church Complex, Public School 72/Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, and the Museum of the City of New York.

LPC landmarked civic institutions, from L to bottom R: St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church (photo: C. Cirillo, 2020); Julia de Burgos Cultural Center (photo:; Former Public School 109 (photo: D. Sindayiganza, 2019)

The area developed over many decades as a predominantly working-class neighborhood, and it has been home to a succession of immigrant groups. The new survey will focus specific attention on the history of El Barrio’s Puerto Rican community and its impact on the (re)development of the neighborhood.

Ascendant, and our partners in the Landmark East Harlem (LEH) alliance, successfully worked to list the East Harlem Historic District on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2019. We successfully secured a determination of eligibility for the proposed East-Central Harlem Historic District in 2020, and we are working on a nomination to list that historic district in 2021.

Ascendant and LEH, along with other local stakeholders, will use our new $12,000 Preserve New York grant to hire Marissa Marvelli to conduct the El Barrio/Southern East Harlem Cultural Resource Survey. The survey will help to identify potential individual State and National Register listings and the boundaries of potential new historic districts.

We are so excited to get started on this survey of East Harlem. We value our ongoing partnership with the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation. Through this work, we have been able to recognize, preserve, and celebrate the history and culture of East Harlem/El Barrio.

Thank you for your continued support of Ascendant and we look forward to sharing our survey findings with you soon!