Open City: Blogging Urban Change
Remembering Public School 42 in the 60s and 70s
By Celina Su


In this video post, May Wong Lee shares two collections of remembrances about attending Public School 42 in the 1960s and 1970s, especially beloved traditions they had back then– namely, crab soccer, the knish man, and pickles. In the second video, she discusses some of the pedagogical styles and teachers who made the most difference in helping her succeed. She currently serves as Assistant Principal there.

Public School 42, on the corner of Hester and Orchard Streets, was built in 1898. It eventually got named the Benjamin Altman School, after the department store owner whose first store was located nearby, on Attorney Street. (The B. Altman’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue opened in 1906, and the building currently houses the City University of New York Graduate Center, Oxford University Press, and the New York Public Library science research collection.) The school serves around 800 students, from pre-kindergarten through grade 5. These students are over 92% Asian, around 5% African American, 2% Latino, and the remaining students white.

According to both parents’ comments and Department of Education reports, the teachers and staff do a good job at making the school a welcoming community for students and parents. The outcomes are pretty impressive, with very high attendance rates and scores in the top 15% citywide, even as over 90% of the children come from low-income families and are eligible for free or reduced school lunch. Almost 40% of the students are English-language learners.

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About Open City
Open City: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes. Read more.
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Featured Profile
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United. CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas: Read more.

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Community Announcements
Manhattan CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee
Monday, May 2 at 6:30 pm -- Rutgers Community Center, Gymnasium - 200 Madison Street (btwn Rutgers & Pike Sts)

Brooklyn CB7, Land Use/Landmarks Committee Regular meeting
Continued discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning

Manhattan CB3 Economic Development Committee Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm -- Community Board 3 Office - 59 East 4th Street (btwn 2nd Ave & Bowery)

Read more.

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