Public School 153, the Adam Clayton Powell , Jr. School

750 Amsterdam Avenue
N.Y.C. Board of Education Bureau of Design

The plain style of the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. School defies the dynamic community activism that facilitated its completion in an era of disinvestment in the city’s black and Latino neighborhoods. However, the school’s almost Brutalist style façades are typical of schools built during the postwar era, with its solid mass of red brick punctuated by narrow bands of windows on the upper stories. In the late 1960s, the city commissioned P.S. 153 to replace the aging and overcrowded P.S. 186, acquiring and clearing a tract of residential buildings. After the school was not included in the Board of Education’s austere annual budget in 1971, the locally-led National Economic Growth and Reconstruction Organization (NEGRO) staged a boycott, with staff and students relocating to temporary classrooms throughout the neighborhood until construction began on P.S. 153. Finally completed in 1975, the school was named after Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who, in 1941, was the first African-American elected to New York City Council before representing Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1945 to 1971. In 1994-95, the school constructed an addition on the site of its playground (which was relocated to the roof) to house kindergarten and first grade students.