16 Harlem Streets Get New Names: Cicely Tyson Way, Dinkins Drive
HARLEM, NY — From David Dinkins Drive to Cicely Tyson Way, more than a dozen streets around Harlem will soon be co-named in honor of bygone leaders and beloved figures after getting the City Council's approval on Tuesday.
The 16 Harlem streets were among nearly 200 across the city that passed the Council's parks committee on Tuesday. Each new name was proposed by local groups or individuals and approved by a community board before reaching the Council, which signs off on co-namings near the end of each year.
Here's a rundown of each new street name in Harlem.
David Dinkins Drive
Location: Northeast corner of West 155th Street and Riverside Drive
Background: This proposal was first raised in 2015 by residents of the River Terrace Apartments, a building on the same corner where the former mayor once lived. City Councilmember Mark Levine dropped the plan that year after learning that Dinkins's family did not support it — but the proposal has apparently been revived following Dinkins's death last fall at age 93.
Rev. Dr. J. G. McCann Way
Location: intersection of West 123rd Street and Morningside Avenue
Background: the co-named street is down the block from St. Luke Baptist Church, where McCann was the longtime pastor.
Althea Gibson Street
Location: West 143rd Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard
Background: Gibson, the tennis star who became one of the first Black athletes to break her sport's color line, lived with her family at 135 West 143rd St. The effort to co-name the street was mentioned in a 2019 New York Times article.
Judge Sheila Abdus Salaam Way
Location: West 131st Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard
Background: Abdus-Salaam was a judge on the New York Court of Appeals — the first Black woman judge to reach the state's highest court — until her 2017 suicide. She lived part-time on this block of 131st Street.
Bishop James P. Roberts, Sr. Way
Location: West 122nd Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Mount Morris Park West
Background: After coming to Harlem from his native Antigua, Roberts founded the St. Thomas Liberal Catholic Church, which later moved into a building at 12 West 122nd St. Fondly known as the "Antigua and Barbuda House," the building is now operated by the Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society, according to Community Board 10.
Bishop C.M. “Sweet Daddy” Grace Lane
Location: intersection of West 124th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard
Background: Grace was founder of the United House of Prayer For All People, a predominantly Black church which he led until his death in 1960.
Genevieve (Jenny) Eason Way
Location: intersection of West 139th Street and Riverside Drive
Police Officer Randolph Holder Way
Location: intersection of East 120th Street and the FDR Drive
Background: Holder was an NYPD officer who was fatally shot in 2015 on the 120th Street pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive, as he pursued a suspect. Last year, the NYPD paid tribute to Holder by unveiling a plaque in his honor at the base of the bridge.
Cicely Tyson Way
Location: East 101st Street between Lexington Avenue and Third avenue
Background: Tyson, the legendary actress who died in January at age 96, grew up in a five-story walkup on this East Harlem block. Neighbors first floated the idea of a co-naming in April, winning the support of Community Board 11 in their bid to memorialize the activist and Academy Award nominee.
Tyson returned to the block in 1994 after a nonprofit developer renovated it to serve low-income tenants, saying the project "means more to me than I can verbalize."
Detective Robert A. Cardona Way
Location: intersection of East 120th Street and Pleasant Avenue
Background: Cardona, a 19-year NYPD veteran who worked out of Manhattan's 13th Precinct, died from COVID-19 in April 2020. Cardona was also a survivor of 9/11-related cancer.
Hector "Macho" Camacho Way
Location: Lexington Avenue between East 114th and 115th streets
Background: Camacho, the famed Puerto Rican boxer, died in 2012 after being shot in his hometown of Bayamón. When he was a child, Camacho lived with his mother at NYCHA's James Weldon Johnson Houses, which abuts the newly-renamed street.
Robert “Black Rob” Ross Way
Location: intersection of 115th Street and First Avenue
Background: Ross, a prominent rapper, grew up in East Harlem. He died in April from kidney failure.
Pura Belpre Way
Location: northeast corner of East 109th Street and Lexington Avenue
Background: Belpré was a longtime librarian at the Aguilar Library, which sits around the corner on East 110th Street. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Belpré was also known as a writer and puppeteer.
Ann Petry Place
Location: southeast corner of East 129th Street and 5th Avenue
Background: Petry, a pioneering writer, wrote her famous 1946 novel "The Street" while living in an apartment at 2 East 129th Street, according to Community Board 11. Her book won acclaim "for its complex portrayer of a working-class black woman, Lutie Johnson, who dreams of escaping from the Harlem that oppresses her," the board wrote.
Rev. James Allen Way
Location: intersection of East 128th Street and Park Avenue
Background: Allen was the founder of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center nearby at 1881 Park Ave. He died last fall after leading the organization for more than 50 years.
Saint Tikhon Way
Location: East 97th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues
Background: this block includes the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Saint Tikhon was a Russian Orthodox bishop who died in 1925 and was canonized in 1989.
Related coverage: East Harlem Street Could Be Renamed 'Cicely Tyson Way'
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This article originally appeared on the Harlem Patch