When New Yorkers tried to rename Third Avenue

Thirdavenuesign1956 was a crucial year for seven-mile Third Avenue.

That’s when the last piece of steel from the Third Avenue El was dismantled (below at 34th Street in the 1930s), bringing sunlight and broad views to a thoroughfare long known for its shadows and grime.

And right about when the El was finally removed, some residents and real estate officials called for Third Avenue to be given a more glamorous name.

“[Borough President Hulan E. Jack] said that at least five new names had been suggested,” wrote The New York  Times on February 17, after a ceremony marking the removal of a steel column.

ThirdavenueelAmong them were The Bouwerie, United Nations Avenue, International Boulevard, and Nathan Hale Boulevard (the Revolutionary War hero was reportedly hanged at today’s Third Avenue and 66th Street).

“One atomic-minded New Yorker had offered Fission Avenue,” stated the Times.

Borough President Jack was against a name change, though he did propose renaming the Bowery “Third Avenue South” to get rid of the Bowery’s “connotation of drunken derelicts and broken dreams.”

In the end, of course, Third Avenue remained Third Avenue . . . and the Bowery now connotes boutique hotels.

[Photo: New York City Municipal Archives]

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7 Responses to “When New Yorkers tried to rename Third Avenue”

  1. carolegill Says:

    Manhattan is so easy to get around in.
    Leave it as Third Avenue. What about Sixth Avenue? Do people call it Avenue of the Americas or not?

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    No! It’s a little long.

  3. carolegill Says:

    it is. Funny, that it was even suggested!

  4. carolegill Says:

    right. logical!

  5. petey Says:

    “Fission Avenue”
    i love it.

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, very nuclear age!

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