The other name for Sixth Avenue

Of course, no one calls Sixth Avenue by its official moniker: Avenue of the Americas. The street got this formal and cumbersome name in 1945. But why—and whose bright idea was it?

The blame starts with Sixth Avenue business owners. In the 1940s, they argued that the then-dingy avenue (the El had recently been dismantled above it) needed some sprucing up.

One way to do that would be to get Central and South American countries to build consulates and company HQs on the avenue. Real-estate bigwig Leonard Spear took credit for that idea.

In 1945, city council members were convinced, and Mayor La Guardia signed the name change into law. In the 1950s, signs representing different countries in the Americas went up all along the avenue.

The signs never helped the name catch on. Most were taken down for good in the early 1990s, when city lampposts were replaced. But a few rusted ones remain. One still hangs on at Sixth and Grand Street.

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7 Responses to “The other name for Sixth Avenue”

  1. iread Says:

    You know, I’ve lived in NYC my entire life and no one has ever been able to tell me how or why Sixth Ave. became Ave. of the Americas. Thanks for putting me in the know.

  2. Christopher Says:

    You’d be surprised how many people refer to it as Avenue of the Americas. I am always surprised anyway. Particularly businesses along the street like to use that name.

    LaGuardia did more than just that of course too. 6th Avenue was extended south too. Slicing through parts of the Village in his plan to make this a grand street that would extend all the way to the Southern tip of Manhattan.

    I suppose for arguments sake you could say that other names for 6th Avenue are Lenox and Malcom X Blvd.

    It’s really one of our most schizophrenic streets in a city of schizophrenic streets.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    That’s a good point–Sixth Avenue becomes Lenox, which was renamed Malcolm X Blvd. Does anyone call it that?

  4. Blessed Says:

    Yes as a long time resident of the area I am aware that some residents do call it Malcolm X Blvd., particularly younger residents who want to keep the Malcolm X name alive. Older residents out of habit will use the name Lenox Ave. A lot of times residents in the area also use both names interchangeably. Tourists who have never been to the area are usually the people who may be confused.

  5. on Small Businesses » Blog Archive » In Manhattan Pizza War, Price of Slice Keeps Dropping Says:

    [...] a combination vegetarian Indian restaurant, candy store and pizza parlor on Avenue of the Americas (also known as Sixth Avenue), between 37th and 38th Streets. It is called Bombay Fast Food/6 Ave. [...]

  6. In Manhattan Pizza War, Price of Slice Keeps Dropping | Food Says:

    [...] Indian restaurant, candy store &#1072n&#1281 pizza parlor &#959n Chance &#959f th&#1077 Americas (&#1072&#406&#1109&#959 famous &#1072&#1109 Sixth Chance), joining 37th &#1072n&#1281 38th Streets. It &#1110&#1109 called Bombay Q&#965&#1110&#1089k Food/6 [...]

  7. In Manhattan Pizza War, Price of Slice Keeps Dropping | Stop News Daily Says:

    [...] is a multiple vegetarian Indian restaurant, candy store and pizza parlor on Avenue of a Americas (also famous as Sixth Avenue), between 37th and 38th Streets. It is called Bombay Fast Food/6 Ave. [...]

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