187th Street – Act I: Paciencia y Fe (Laurel Hill Terrace to Bennett Ave)

Fig. 7 – Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, also across from Holy Cross Church.

Fig. 7 – Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, also across from Holy Cross Church.

In the musical, In the Heights, the song Paciencia Y Fe is performed by Abuela Claudia, the heart of the community, and also its adopted grandmother.  It is a touching account of her life story, and that of many other residents in Washington Heights.  She sings of:

“Sharing double beds, trying to catch a break, struggling with English / Listening to friends, finally got a job working as a maid / So we cleaned some homes, polishing with pride, / Scrubbing the whole of the Upper East Side / The days into weeks, the weeks into years, and here I stayed.”

Act One of the tale of 187th Street follows Abuela Claudia as she strikes out from her home town of Havana, Cuba to seek opportunity in Nueva York.  What she finds instead, is a largely working and lower-middle class community in a depressed but colourful environment.

Patience is what she needs, since getting out of this community takes grit, determination and a spot of luck. The obstacles are many, symbolised allegorically by the undulating topography in these parts.  Thankfully, patience is what she has, in droves.

Faith is also something she espouses, and something which is in great supply here, alongside a surprising degree of tolerance and ethnic harmony.  Here, Jewish, Armenian, Greek, Catholic and Pentecostal places of worship literally (well almost) stand side by side, providing solace and comfort for residents, and looking, not unlike a Nuevo Mundo version of the Holy Land.

And so she struggles to move on up.

*  *  *  *  *

Fig. 1 – Apartments on Laurel Hill Terrace.

Fig. 1 – Apartments on Laurel Hill Terrace.

Fig. 2 - The Golan Heights, on Amsterdam Ave.

Fig. 2 – The Golan Heights, on Amsterdam Ave.

Fig. 3 – Historic apartment buildings across from Yeshiva University

Fig. 3 – Historic apartment buildings across from Yeshiva University

Fig. 4 – Yeshiva University, Wilf Campus. Built in a Moorish Revival Style, and looking like a castle in mediaeval Andalusia.

Fig. 4 – Yeshiva University, Wilf Campus. Built in a Moorish Revival Style, and looking like a castle in mediaeval Andalusia.

Fig. 5– Tenements across from Holy Cross Church, just before Audubon Ave.

Fig. 5– Tenements across from Holy Cross Church, just before Audubon Ave.

Fig. 6 – Holy Cross Church of Armenia.

Fig. 6 – Holy Cross Church of Armenia.

Fig. 8 – Junction of St Nicholas Ave, with the Greek Orthodox Church of St Anargyri.

Fig. 8 – Junction of St Nicholas Ave, with the Greek Orthodox Church of St Anargyri.

Fig. 9 – Terraced houses, just before Wadsworth Ave.

Fig. 9 – Terraced houses, just before Wadsworth Ave.

Fig. 10 – St Elizabeth’s Church, looking like a mediaeval Crusader Fortress in the Holy Land.

Fig. 10 – St Elizabeth’s Church, looking like a mediaeval Crusader Fortress in the Holy Land.

Fig. 11 – Schoolyard at the foot of the hill on Broadway.

Fig. 11 – Schoolyard at the foot of the hill on Broadway.

Fig. 12 – Mt Sinai Jewish Center, with a distinctly modernist façade.

Fig. 12 – Mt Sinai Jewish Center, with a distinctly modernist façade.

A) Act I - Paciencia y Fe

A) Act I – Paciencia y Fe

PDF:A – Act I – Paciencia y Fe (2.8 MB)

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, New York, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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