National Geographic : 1977 Feb
Ruled "unfit for human habitation" three quarters of a century ago, brick walk-ups still comprise half of greater Harlem's 216,000 dwell ings. These on East 115th Street attracted va grants who lighted fires that finally gutted the buildings (above). When absentee owners stopped paying taxes, New York became the landlord. But the city's fiscal crisis has sidetracked reconstruc tion. Meanwhile, laundry flutters like an SOS sig nal, proving that life goes on. But for how long? Like a cell dividing, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and India's Mahatma Gandhi emerge from a common center-the dream of free dom-in a graffiti-obscured street mural (below).