The bridge that links Manhattan to New Jersey bears the name of a former president, George Washington. The bridge that connects Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx carries the name of a former senator, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Two months ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that he wanted to rename the Queensboro Bridge after another political figure, this time a quintessential New Yorker: the former mayor, Edward I. Koch.
Fellow politicians warmly embraced the idea, which required City Council approval. The Council’s speaker, Christine C. Quinn, went on to evoke the Simon and Garfunkel classic, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” (invoking the bridge’s accepted alternative name) to show her enthusiasm, noting that “there is no one in our city groovier than Ed Koch.” Mr. Bloomberg, who made the announcement on the occasion of Mr. Koch’s 86th birthday, said, “Like Ed Koch, the bridge is a resilient, hard-working New York City icon that’s been bringing people together for a long time – and will probably outlast us all.” His suggested new name for the bridge was Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
But then on Tuesday, seemingly out of nowhere, came a statement from Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. of Queens opposing the name change. (His district includes Astoria, but does not include Long Island City, the neighborhood on the Queens side of the bridge.)
“Mayor Ed Koch is truly a great man and deserving of an honor like this,” Mr. Vallone wrote, “but renaming a landmark so closely linked to our borough’s culture and history is not appropriate. The city would not rename the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Queensboro Bridge should be treated equally.”
In an interview, Mr. Vallone said he had waited to come out against the proposal “because I hoped it would go away.” He had hoped to time the release of the statement to the Council’s vote on the name-change proposal, which he thought had been scheduled for Wednesday. He said Mr. Koch deserved “an honor like this,” but not exactly this honor. He suggested, instead, naming another landmark after Mr. Koch: Gracie Mansion, the city’s official mayoral residence.
“It would be fitting,” Mr. Vallone said, “because of all the contributions Ed Koch made to the entire city of New York.”
A vote by the full Council on the name-change proposal hadn’t been scheduled as of Tuesday afternoon, and Mr. Vallone said he was working to sway other members of the Council’s Queens delegation to join him in opposition.
Mr. Koch himself had applauded the proposal to name the bridge for him. So if the Council decides not to do it, he is liable to be disappointed. Perhaps we can give him a consolation prize. If not the Queensboro Bridge, City Room commenters, what New York landmark could carry Mr. Koch’s name?