Harlem Sign Of The Times – Summer is for BBQing

By HarlemGuy

I noticed the sign below on a recent bike ride through Morningside Park.

Photo: HarlemGuy
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a sign in any City Park. When I first moved to Harlem I loved the fact that residents made frequent use of Morningside Park for BBQs.  But I always worried that one day that lovely right of Summer would be quashed by the City.
I am pleased to see that BBQs will continue to be a unique and festive family and food oriented feature of Morningside Park and life in Harlem.
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Author: HarlemGuy

18 thoughts on “Harlem Sign Of The Times – Summer is for BBQing

  1. In an ideal world it’s nice to BBQ with the family in the park, but in reality in today’s world what’s happening here is that the park becomes overcrowded of dangerous people. I live in front of this park and I’m afraid of living my apt on the weekend.

  2. I am a Morningside resident. Banning BBQ’s because of trash is like throwing the baby out with bathwater. What we need is either make people take out their trash, or assemble community volunteers to clean up. Banning traditional low-cost family-friendly events in this gentrifying neighborhood will only breed resentment and tensions between old and new residents.

  3. We hear you and would love to partner with residents near and users of the park to come up with solutions that make everyone happy. Looking forward to receiving ideas from all sides on this important topic.

  4. Since I first posted on this blog in June regarding the barbecues in Morningside Park, I would like to respond to one of your later posts saying that you stopped by the park late one evening and thought there wasn’t much garbage. If you go at night, in the dark, how could you possibly see the garbage? There have been weekends when the garbage was left there until Tuesday morning. I have photos on my phone to prove it.
    This morning I was walking my dog and found a knife stuck in a tree!
    To Tony, I live in the neighborhood, I’m not wealthy and I can’t get out to the Hamptons, either. Most of us who are witness to everything in the park believe that most of the people BBQing are not from the neighborhood. They pull up in cars and unload all of their stuff. One group actually brought a generator! PLEASE. Who needs a generator in the park!
    Several weeks ago there were hundreds of people on the green at 117th Street BBQing in a no BBQ area. The police had to come and break it up.
    Last weekend a smaller group was there, two women got into a cat fight that went out into the street, breaking glass, screaming, you name it. It went on for half an hour, no police around, and it took several big guys to get them to knock it off.
    On July 30th, I was walking my dog outside the park on the sidewalk around 10:30 PM between 117th and 118th Streets, and a group of kids started to throw bottles at me and my dog. I was hit in the head with a water bottle and my glasses were knocked off. Then they through a soda cup at me as well. It took two calls to 911 and a 40 minute wait before the cops arrived. Luckily, I was stunned rather than seriously hurt. The only thing the cops did was to get out thier flashlights and help me find my glasses.
    The park has taken a serious turn for the worse since I moved up here more than 5 years ago. Neither the Parks Department or the Police Department are doing anything to fix the problem. The park is supposed to be closed at 10 PM but people hang out in there until all hours. The playground is supposed to close at dusk, but there are children making lots of noise in there until well after 10 PM. This is terribly unfair to the residents that live across the street.

  5. more trash cans closer to bbq sites
    foot patrols during high use times
    require permits with security deposits to bbq

    your turn

  6. I agree with Tony “A little understanding and responsibility is needed an all sides”
    @ New Harlem Dweller (a year here) checkout the last sentence that OWTD wrote… Finding constructive ways to get the slackers to do their part is the right direction towards finding a solution.

  7. I wish what Tony suggests were true, but unfortunately people who show no responsibility or respect for the park DON’T lose any privileges – and don’t seem to care. I love the tradition, but hate the results: trash, decaying food, hot coals, burnt trees, barren lawn areas. Some barbecue lovers clean up and show respect for the park and other people, but many don’t. What are constructive ways to get the slackers to do their part?

  8. What it comes down to is responsiblity.
    You have to clean up after yourselfs.
    If you don’t then you lose the privelage to use the park.

  9. Why do adults and families need the park people to hover over them when cleaning up after yourself is the right thing to do? Of course people need a place to go to get together, however that place can be so much more pleasant when people care for it. Thus far in my year here I do not see that the residents who bbq in the park or eat on the streets feel any responsibility for their own trash.

  10. While there are several valid complaints about trash being left after cook-outs in the park, people should respect this tradition that brings families and friends together to enjoy the outdoors and release some tension during the hot summer. Not everyone is able to get out of the city and go to the Hamptons or a home in the country for rest and relaxation, and some folks don’t even have air conditioning at home! A little understanding and responsibility is needed on all sides. Perhaps the parks department can monitor activities in the park more closely, and do a better job at communicating rules and regulations..

  11. I am among those who find it destructive to the park to allow bbq-ing. This leaving of trash wherever the consumer of food wishes is not only in the park though. Just walk FDB any morning, as I do to go to work, and you will see the remains of meals eaten on the go. Whether it is left by a resident or passer-thru, I am saddened by the disregard or disinterest in having a pleasant community. As a former mid-western dweller, I am not accustomed to all the trash.

  12. I own a condo directly across from the park and have lived there for six years. While you may be excited to see people barbequing, many of us who live close to the park disagree.
    Morningside Park is the only city park that we know of that allows barbequing. As a result, a lot of people from outside the community come in droves to use it on weekends. It gets so crowded that you have trouble walking down the street or on the park pathway.
    There are designated areas for cooking that barbequers ignore. There are signs in the park that say “No Barbequing Here” and they set up grills directly under the signs. The fumes from lighter fluid come into our homes all day and until the park closes at 10 PM, even after it officially closes. They bring tents! I counted four grills and a large smoker last weekend for one group and two large tents for another.
    They throw charcoal out at the base of the trees, on the grass and along the pathway, rather than in the red cans. Others throw garbage in the red cans designated for hot coals, which could start a fire. The people throw garbage, broken glass and bones all over the ground, and disposable grills and lighter fluid have been left behind. It is difficult for dog owners to walk there dogs. Dogs have burned there feet on hot coals and they pick up chicken bones. The morning after is always a mess. The clean up crews are dealt a dreadful job.
    In the newly seeded area north of the new playground at 117th Street, signs say “Stay off -Newly Seeded Grass” and they set up tables and chairs and grills just the same.
    Barbeques are set up on the sidewalk outside the park. Last weekend, a tile kitchen table was left behind. The grills were going until 3 AM Sunday morning out there.
    On Saturday evening, there was a very large crowd (I would estimate 100 or more people) in the basketball court barbequing and they caused so much noise that the police had to be called in. We had motorcyclists on the street from 116th to 122nd Street speeding up the street on the back wheels of their bikes. The police had to be called for that, too.
    You may think it is great to be able to barbeque in Morningside Park, however, many residents in the area are upset over the destruction of the park, the noise we have to contend with, the damaging fumes, from morning until night, and the potential for people possibly getting hurt.

  13. Yes, the signs have been there for a few years now, but no one pays attention and they’re not enforced. I’m sure it’s because the bbq areas are so small and Morningside Park is our “backyard” for apartment dwellers. I like that people can bbq in the park and enjoy family, friends and food. My dog is quite the little begger and most are happy to comply 🙂

    That said, it is quite alarming when the park is trashed the next morning. I was in the park early Tuesday morning and it was crazy what people left — besides garbage, there were children’s toys, grills, chairs, etc. People seemed so much better last summer about cleaning up — they brought garbage bags, etc. and seemed to respect the park (for the most part).

    Basically, I think we have to respect the park as our communal “backyard” and keep it clean. I love bbq’s and parties, especially since we live on top of each other in NYC. It’s a great outlet!

    P.S. I don’t think the people sleeping in the park are leftovers from the bbqs and parties LOL!

  14. yup. agree.

    The place is totally trashed the next day.
    and I mean TRASHED !!!

    not to mention, there is usually about 6-7 people passed out sleeping next day.

  15. On the contrary, there are many neighborhood residents, myself included, who are firmly opposed to BBQing in Morningside Park. Anyone who walks the park early on a weekend morning or Monday morning will see that the those who barbeque leave the Park absolutely trashed. Hot coals are poured onto tree roots and plant beds, uneaten food is dumped on the ground for varmints, and heaps of garbage are left out in open, often times just steps from trash bins.

    Also, do know that many of those who barbeque in the Park are not neighborhood residents, but those coming from the suburbs or other boroughs.

    There’s nothing quaint or charming about the BBQing in Morningside Park!

  16. This sign gets posted every spring, it isn’t new. People BBQing don’t pay any more attention to it than they do about picking up their trash.

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