Welcome to Spanish Harlem: my home away from home.
This building is on 104th Street between 3rd and Lexington in case you ever want to see it for yourself. "The Spirit of East Harlem Mural" was completed in 1978 by a Pratt Institute student named Hank Prussing.
Prussing, originally from Maryland, started the mural in 1973 after discussing how beautiful and under appreciated street art was (or is) with Reverend George Calvert who was the pastor of a church quite literally down the block from this building. Calvert spoke to community members about Prussing's interest in East Harlem and its people which was rare then.This was before gentrification was as violent and displacing to the residents of East Harlem as it is now. Local art stores and construction workers donated tools and supplies to Prussing who took pictures, with permission, of the neighborhood residents and used those pictures as reference to paint this mural.
When the mural was complete in 1978, all of the faces could be found in East Harlem. It's neighborhood folklore that the men playing dominos around the table lived in the building and the fourth man who if you look closely, you can see just his hand, moved out and never spoke to them again because he believed they asked Prussing to cut him out because he never played fair. We call it La Mano del Tramposo, "The hand of the Cheater."
More fact than folk, Prussing had a helper, a young man by the name of Manny Vega.
Vega would later become one of Spanish Harlem's greatest educators and activist, creating mosaics and murals around both The Bronx and Harlem. Examples:
If you want to see this stuff for yourself there's a wifi cafe across from the 104th Street mural that charges $3.50 for a cup of coffee.