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Street Smart

Red Hook Heroes Run Street. Edgar Allen Poe Street. Leonard Bernstein Place. Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard.

Ever heard of these places? If you’re like the majority of New Yorkers, streets like these are unheard of. What if I told you that all these places can be found in New York City? That’s right. As if the streets weren’t confusing enough, let’s add a name to it.

In our great city, it’s surprisingly easy to get a street name changed or add an “honorary” street name to an otherwise nameless street. There are two levels of government that can approve of this change. One is the city level, the other being the state level. The requirements of changing a NY Street name are as follows, according to about.com:

  • According to the City Council, "proposed honorees must be individuals who are deceased and of significant importance to New York City"
  • Similar guidelines are required of organizations

Red Hook Heroes Run Street located at the intersection of Smith Street and Lorraine Street in Brooklyn was named in honor of the fallen firefighters Ronnie Lee Henderson, Anthony Jovic, Michael Ragusa, Christian Regenhard and Anthony Rodriguez, who were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Edgar Allen Poe Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, otherwise known as 84th Street was named for the street on which Poe lived in when he wrote “The Raven.” Likewise for Leonard Bernstein Place and Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard.

The New York Times conducted an experiment linked here to test the practicality of having honorary street names. Ten letters were sent to ten addresses in Manhattan with variations in the address. The experiment determined that honorary street names not only proved inefficient, but confusing as well, as four out of ten letters with alternate street names did not reach their destination.

So what do you think? Commemorative or confusing?

Poe St

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