Street names are underused form of public salute. Every once in a while we change one to celebrate a former mayor or something, but for the most part we’re stuck with boring old numbers and letters.
Coney Island hot dog tycoons Nathan and Ida Handwerker got their own street earlier this summer. Bensonhurst Bean reports that the neighborhood is renaming several more streets after its local heroes over the next few weeks. But why should hot dog celebrities and war heroes get to have all the recognition? They already have that other stuff. Here’s a list of 10 underrated Brooklynites and honorary locals that we’d like to see given their own street names.
“Christopher Swain Way” — 9th St. between Smith St. and 2nd Ave.
This stretch of 9th street goes right over the Gowanus Canal, and last year clean waterway activist Christopher Swain swam that very canal without dying. Swain dove into the most disgusting body of water I can think of to help the environment and if that doesn’t make him a local hero, I don’t know what does. A third arm and disturbing cough isn’t a good enough prize for a hero. We think he deserves the name of the whole canal.
“Regine Gries Place” — McKibbin St. between Bushwick Ave. and White St.
There are few things more terrifying to a New Yorker than bed bugs — they destroy your skin, your furniture, your social and romantic lives. Over the last few years, hero/masochist/Men In Black villain Regine Gries purposefully got thousands of bed bug bites. For science. Over five years, Gries let bed bugs feast on her body in order to find a chemical that could more effectively lure them into traps. Even though Gries isn’t actually a New Yorker, her efforts still make her a local hero, so we’ve decided to gift her a block in Bushwick, specifically the one that contains the McKibbin Lofts.
“Atlantis Superwash Center Place” — Myrtle and Bedford Aves.
There are plenty of Laundromats in Brooklyn, but for the most part they close early, their change machines barely work and they smell weird. But not the Atlantis Superwash Center, and for that, I think the owners deserve some credit. This place is 24-hours, so you don’t have to be responsible with your time. It’s always clean, it’s reasonably priced and the machines work consistently. I think it’s high time we stop taking what we have for granted and give the Atlantis Superwash Center some respect the best way we can: By naming a block after them.
“Jay-Z Street” — Jay St.
This one’s a no-brainer. Jay-Z epitome of the Brooklyn boy who left the projects to eventually claim credit for a basketball arena with which he’s only loosely involved. But more importantly — it’d be so easy! The city wouldn’t even have to buy new signs for this one, they could literally just draw a “Z” onto their existing signs and call it a day. It worked for Do or Dive. Jay-Z would probably have to come perform. Yeah, he grew up in the Marcy Projects and consistently talks about Bed-Stuy, but Jay (-Z) Street has a Shake Shack!
“Whoever lives in the pigeon hut Way” — Willoughby Ave. between Stuyvesant Ave. and Broadway
There’s a house Willoughby with an enclosed front area just full of pigeons. I think pigeons are disgusting, but somebody needs to care about them, I guess, and this man or woman is doing a bang-up job. As I see it, if the pigeons are hanging out in this hut, they can’t fly into me or give me an uncomfortable sideways glance on the street. So thank you, owner of the pigeon hut, for keeping our community’s birds happy and off the street, which is now named after you.
“Franny Street” — Nostrand Ave. between Clifton Pl. and Lafayette Ave.
Franny works at the bodega by my house. I don’t know his last name but he always makes me really good bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches when I’m hungover. He knows that I like the bacon extra crispy and we have a good rapport. One time I got a bag of Takis and he didn’t charge me for it. He deserves a street name.
“Z Train Way” — Broadway
Though not a person, the Z train is still a local hero. Just when you think, “No way is there a third train that runs on this track,” there it is. I’ve only seen the Z train two times in my five years in Brooklyn and prior to each sighting I had fully accepted that I’d never see it again, that I must have imagined it. And then: There it is, the most mythical train of them all, there to cut wait times on the congested J and M trains. Once the L shuts down for forever, the Z is bound to make more frequent public appearances, and we’ll be able to give it the appreciation it deserves.
“Bob Hoskins playing Mario in the Super Mario movie Way” — Flatbush Ave.
Supposedly all incarnations of Mario are from Brooklyn, but only Englishman Bob Hoskins fully captured the guy’s jarring Brooklyn accent. So why not commemorate him with a street? He was a hard working plumber, he fought Dennis Hopper (essentially a New York rite of passage) and he knows the subway system like nobody else. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: John Leguizamo was there too, but that guy deserves a whole borough so we’ll save the next one for him.
“Cliff and Paris Street” — Bedford and Lafayette Aves.
Cliff and Paris are my landlords and they’re real standup people. T hey’ve always been on top of pest and plumbing issues, they’ve done some decent renovations and they haven’t jacked up my rent. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but have you met New York landlords? Renting your property without being a monster or slumlord makes you New York royalty in my book.
“Andy Dymond Way” — Bleecker St. between Wyckoff and Irving Aves.
Andy’s just a good buddy of mine who moved out of New York recently. He’s a good listener, he always had good bike tips and one time he gave me his old guitar so I think it’s high time we rename the street he used to live on after him.
Follow Sam for more streetwise content: @SamHWeiss
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