(Street) Signs of the Times
If you haven’t already read it, the Times reported last week on the recent completion of a catalog of New York City’s ‘honorific’ street names designated since 1998. These honorific names are noted with a sign that appears in tandem with a street’s original name and can be seen all around the city. The honorific names are official — they’re proposed and approved by the city council and mayor, but don’t require a change to the city’s official street map. Although approved by the City, there had never been an actual central list of all the honorific names. Most of the signs honor people or groups that had a special tie to the literal street or the neighborhood in which they’re located.
Over the years, GVSHP has highlighted many of these honorific names found in the Village and nearby, exploring the streets themselves and the people behind the names.
In 2009, the stretch of Hudson Street between Perry and West 11th Street was named for pioneering preservation activist Jane Jacobs. The street is also the site of her former home at 555 Hudson Street. GVSHP first proposed the street co-naming in 2006 shortly after Jacobs’ death. Jacobs served as an early member of the GVSHP Board of Advisors after its founding in 1980, and generously conducted an oral history for GVSHP which is available through our website.
One of the most recent honorific street namings was Cornell Edwards Way in 2012. Edwards, the always-visible owner of the beloved East Village shop, the Flower Stall, at 143 East 13th Street passed away in 2011. Read more about him and his shop here.
Jodie Lane Place (11th Street between Avenue A and 2nd Avenue) notes a local tragedy that occurred ten years ago this last January. On January 16, 2004, East Village resident Jodie Lane was walking her dogs and paid a visit to Veniero’s, one of her favorite spots. Upon exiting, her dogs began to act erratically, biting each other and barking uncontrollably. Jodie called for help and bent down to help the dogs when she was fatally electrocuted. Both she and her dogs had received an electric shock from a metal Con Edison junction box installed in the sidewalk that had shorted, sending out stray voltage. You can read more about Jodie’s story here.
On the northern end of the East Village is Cus D’Amato Way, named for a trainer who owned a gym at 116 East 14th Street off Irving Place (where the building housing PC Richards now stands) where he helped launch the careers of some of the greatest boxing legends of our time.
Artists of all types also make up many of the honorific names sprinkled throughout the Village environs, such as Joey Ramone Place (Bowery between 1st and 2nd Streets); Ellen Stewart Way (East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), named for the founder of La MaMa Experimental Theatre company; Gilda Radner Way (West Houston Street between Varick Street and 6th Avenue), one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live whose fight against cancer in the late 1980s helped create the Gilda’s Club network; and Dave Von Ronk Street (Washington Place near Sheridan Square) named for the folk music pioneer and inspiration for the recent film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
View the entire catalog of names here.