Sunday, December 25, 2005
The History of Avenue A
In the picture to the left we see remnants of an Avenue A on the side of PS158 on York Avenue, between 77th and 78th Street (BTW, PS158 has an extremely attractive assistant principal). From the wonderful forgotten-ny site: "One block east of 1st Avenue is a north-south thoroughfare that goes by different names depending on what part of town you are in. Between East Houston and 14th Street, it's called Avenue A, but further uptown it's York Avenue and other names. As originally laid out on the Randall plan of 1811, it was Avenue A all the way uptown. Obviously, though, things have changed. A stretch of Avenue A, between East 23rd and East 25th Street, was cut off from the rest when Stuyvesant Town and Cooper Village were constructed in 1947. It was renamed Asser Levy Place, for one of NYC's first Jewish settlers. Governor Peter Stuyvesant tried to bar him from the city militia, but Dutch West India Company directors in Amsterdam upheld Levy. The city renamed Avenue A for him in 1954. Between about East 26th Street and East 53rd Street the Manhattan riverside bends inward and there is no room for Avenue A, but it once again appeared at East 53rd and runs north to another inward turn of the East River at East 92nd Street. It is known as Sutton Place, for dry goods merchant Effingham Sutton, north to East 59th Street. Avenue A kept its name from East 59th to East 92nd Streets, until 1928, when it was named for World War I hero Sergeant Alvin C. York, who refused to capitalize on his winning the Medal of Honor, saying "this uniform ain't for sale." He used profits from the 1941 biographical movie starring Gary Cooper to open a school for children of his native Tennessee. One more brief stretch of Avenue A remained to be renamed, east of Avenue A in East Harlem. It was renamed Pleasant Avenue in 1879." Here's another Avenue A slide show from Mrs. Santa Claus.