NEW YORK – A drive by outgoing New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., (D-Astoria) to have the late beloved mayor Ed Koch’s name removed from the Queensboro Bridge is picking up support from historians in the borough even though most residents in a poll two years ago liked both names for the bridge when it was changed.
The historians said the bridge played a crucial part in making Queens the bustling metropolis it is today. “It was built by and for the people of Queens,” said Bob Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, who supports taking Koch’s name off the crossing, the New York Daily news reported.
“Up until that time, there was this physical separation between Queens and Manhattan,” he said, noting the 1909 bridge spurred population and economic growth in the borough. “It was a complete game-changer.”
Vallone conceded there won’t be any chance of a name change before he leaves office on Dec. 31 but said he wants the next City Council to think it over.
“They would never even think of renaming the Brooklyn Bridge,” said the term-limited Democrat, who made a failed bid to become Borough President. “But, for some reason, it was OK to take ‘Queensboro’ from the people of Queens.”
He said that Koch’s name could instead be placed on One Centre St. in downtown Manhattanwhere Koch, who was born in the Bronx, lived. “it’s a much appropriate honor because Ed Koch was known for his work at City Hall,” he said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who led the name change to honor Koch, did not return calls for comment, the paper said.
Kevin Walsh, 56, of Little Neck, Queens, who runs forgotten-ny.com, which explores the city’s little-known gems, pointed out this is the only bridge named after the borough. “It’s important that the only bridge named for Queens keep its name,” he said.
Koch, who passed away on Feb. 1, said at the name changing in 2011 that Queens residents might take time adjusting to it. “It will probably be 50 years before people refer to it that way,” Koch said.
Gail Koch said that it was important to the family to have her brother-in-law’s name gracing the bridge. “It’s absolutely ridiculous in terms of what [Vallone’s] trying to do,” she said before telling the Daily News the family had “no comment.”
The bridge isn’t the only crossing to undergo a name change. The Triborough Bridge became the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008, and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel was renamed the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in 2010.