A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 02, 2008
God’s Row (White Plains Road, Wakefield)

“God’s Row” was the title of a March 2, 2008 New York Times story about the many churches in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. On White Plains Road, between 240th Street and East Gun Hill Road, there are about 30 storefront churches.

Wakefield was crime-ridden in the 1970s and many businesses left the area. Immigrants (mostly from the Caribbean area) came to Wakefield and put churches in the abandoned stores. The nickname “God’s Row” could gain traction, although many in the Wakefield community still desire to see businesses return to White Plains Road.
Wikipedia: Wakefield, Bronx
Wakefield is a residential and working-class section of the northern borough of the Bronx in New York City, bounded by the New York city line with Westchester County or 243rd street to the north,and 222nd Street to the south, and the Bronx River, Bronx River Parkway and Metro-North Railroad tracks to the west. Wakefield is the northernmost neighborhood in New York City (although the city’s northernmost point is actually in Riverdale, at the College of Mount Saint Vincent). The neighborhood is part of Bronx Community Board 12. The United States Census, 2000 reported a total of 67,787 residents.
Formerly, Wakefield was home to large Irish American and Italian-American populations. During the 1980s, these communities were replaced with significantly large African American and West Indian populations (commonly known as white flight), which now comprise 72.3% of the neighborhood’s total population. 
New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: WAKEFIELD; God and City Hall Lock Horns on White Plains Road
Published: March 10, 2002
Pastor Ben Anthony of the Bible Fellowship Pentecostal Assembly on White Plains Road thinks that churches can be a big help to his community. When his church moved in, he said, the drug dealers on the corner moved away.
Within three blocks of the temple are at least 10 other houses of worship, and there are many others farther south.
Carmen Angueira, the district manager of Community Board 12, said these houses of worship can stymie economic revival.
’‘We need to look at what we need to revitalize, but with the churches there, I don’t know how we would do it,’’ Ms. Angueira said. Since liquor licenses cannot be granted to businesses within 200 feet of a church, restaurateurs might be harder to attract.
A sign at the Living Hope Church of God, next to Pastor Anthony’s, seems to offer a prediction: ‘‘You can’t stop God.’’
New York (NY) Times
God’s Row
Published: March 2, 2008
If this were not enough spiritual fervor for one block, worship at three more storefront churches was also about to begin. As the afternoon wore on, the worshipers became increasingly ardent, cries of hallelujah turned to shrieks, and White Plains Road between 239th and 240th Streets, home to seven houses of worship in all, throbbed with the ardor of believers readying their souls to meet their maker.
The abundance of churches in Wakefield is not limited to this block, which sits opposite a desolate strip of auto body shops. Amid the retail stores on the two-mile stretch of White Plains Road that runs from 240th Street south to East Gun Hill Road, there are about 30 storefront churches.
Starting in the 1970s, in a trend echoed throughout much of the city, Wakefield was plagued by crime that drove many of the neighborhood’s residents, among them large numbers of Italian and Irish families, to the relative safety of the suburbs. In response to their departure, many of the butcher shops, travel agencies, pharmacies and other small businesses along White Plains Road closed, leaving behind empty storefronts.
During the 1980s, immigrants from the Caribbean began replacing residents who had left. The immigrants brought with them faiths like Pentecostalism, and they established fledgling churches in the cheapest and most convenient places they could find, the White Plains Road storefronts widely available at low rents.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Sunday, March 02, 2008 • Permalink

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