Despite criticism, New York to rename famous bridge after former mayor
March 24th, 2011
01:58 PM ET
12 years ago

Despite criticism, New York to rename famous bridge after former mayor

(CNN) - An iconic New York City bridge will soon have a new name, paying tribute to the city's charismatic former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch.

The city council voted 38 to 12 Wednesday to rename the Queensboro Bridge the "Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge." Koch rose to national prominence during his twelve years as mayor of the Big Apple during the 1970's and 1980's.

"I'm elated," Koch said by phone of the plan to officially re-designate the bridge as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. "It's the highest honor the city could confer upon me and they're doing it while I'm still here appreciating it and not dead not knowing about it."

But not everyone shares Koch's excitement.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 64 percent of all New York City voters and 70 percent of Queens voters opposed renaming the bridge that connects Manhattan to Queens.

"We are very proud of our bridge and very proud of our borough," said Queens Councilman Peter F. Vallone, Jr., who voted against the legislation. "They would never consider renaming the Brooklyn Bridge," he said.

Vallone alternatively proposed naming a municipal building after Koch,

The plan to rename the bridge was first proposed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg at Koch's 86th birthday in December.

"Ed Koch is responsible for so much of the progress we enjoy and the renaming is a perfect tribute to one of our City's greatest mayors," Bloomberg said in a statement Wednesday. "He literally saved this bridge and began the process of reinvesting in then crumbling bridges across the city."

Opened to traffic in 1909, in its early days the large steel framed bridge served as a lifeline between the bustling borough of Manhattan and its less populated, suburban sister Queens. Today, over 180,000 motorists cross daily.

It was also featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Woody Allen's Manhattan and Simon and Garfunkel's The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

Born in the Bronx, Koch was elected the 105th Mayor of New York in 1977. He lost his run for a fourth term after facing criticism for a series of government corruption scandals. Since leaving office, he has written as a newspaper columnist, hosted his own radio show, and served as a judge on the television show, "The People's Court."

While some have suggested tolling as a way to solve New York's transportation budget woes, Koch won't hear anything of it.

"If anybody talks about tolls on my bridge, I'm going to run like Horatio and fight them off with my mighty sword," he said.

Filed under: Ed Koch • New York
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    All of this political "naming" stuff, is just perpetuating the worship of people, long after their contributions, and their existence.

    it is not in the best interest of anyone, to do that, not even the person being "honored".

    March 24, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. payback

    ....As a male. And from New York City. Please, instead of naming roadways, bridges and buildings after men. Add some women to the mix....Like Eunice Carter. She worked under Thomsa E. Dewey. She one of the first black (women) district attorney. Back then that was a rare event. Name a building, bridge or roadway after her.

    March 24, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    Does this mean they're going to change the Queens Bridge Projects to the Koch Projects as well? Why not name it Dinkins or Giulianni? HA!!! This will not help your growing unpopularity Mr. Bloomberg. Don;t you even think about renaming the Brooklyn Bridge or I'll put a Flatbush beatdown on you son.

    March 24, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Isn't there something in Queens they can name after cross dresser 9-11 Rudy?

    March 24, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Arizonans name a room after McCain in the state capitol. They called it the 'John.'

    March 24, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Pretzel Logic

    He was a terrible mayor and deserves no honors whatsoever.

    March 24, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tolls on the Queensboro Bridge? Fuggedaboutit!!
    Koch did a lot of good for New York; he was an affable Mayor. Rename the bridge for him is my vote.

    March 24, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Although they should really rename the Triborough Bridge as that connects Queens to the Mayors' borough of The Bronx, but the toll on that baby will cost you an arm, a leg, and a thigh!!

    March 24, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. EddyL

    Dumb.... why do we keep giving away our history? Did Koch have anything to do with the bridge? No.

    March 24, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    The Honorable Mayor Koch was a decent enough mayor. I have no major complaints. I have no significant compliments, either. Guiliani is more deserving of this honor than Koch, and Guiliani does not deserve it either. Can anyone name just one thing positive thing that Koch is known for having done during his 3 terms? Anything long lasting that would rise to the level of "legacy"? I cannot either.

    Maybe they should name a room at Gracie Mansion after former mayors. Or a tree or something on the grounds of same. I would be a nice tradition, seriously. No bridge for Koch.

    March 24, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    Despite this name change, it'll still be the 59th St bridge when I cross it. As the RFK Bridge will still be the Triboro

    March 24, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Jeremy E.

    KOCH KOCH KOCH KOCH! Great article about an even greater man.

    March 24, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    They once passed a NYC law limiting mayors to 2 terms. Not even Guiliani could get around it. Koch spoke out strongly against it. Bloomberg found a way around it, and Koch kept quiet about it. During a period of poor health, granted. But, he was still pretty quiet about it. Odd for a rather outspoken and opnioinated man.

    I guess that this is Michael's thank you gift to Ed.

    March 24, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Alexandria Lupu

    How dare they, changing the name of our beloved bridge. Why is he Borough of Queens reduced to lower middle class status and featured in such shows as All in the Family, King of Queens. As a native New Yorker, I am strongly against naming the Queensborough bridge after a person who focused most of his energies on the Borough of Manhattan. Shame.

    March 24, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |