Queensboro Or Kochboro?
It was only a City Council hearing, but it seemed more like a reunion of former Mayor Edward Koch’s ex-staff members as they along with friends and fans turned out in support of a bill renaming the Queensboro Bridge in his honor.
The official name change would be the Edward Koch-Queensboro Bridge.
Among the speakers was former Borough President Claire Shulman who paid tribute to the 86-year-old former mayor’s solid standing, like the venerable span connecting Queens and Manhattan.
“Mayor Koch is bold, tough, effective, charming and he stands firm, each and every day. The same can be said for our bridge,” Shulman stated.
Despite the overwhelming turnout to sing Koch’s praises, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) also stood firmly behind his announced opposition to naming the bridge after Koch.
Vallone said he also admires and respects Koch, but the Queensboro span has historical significance and, just like the Brooklyn Bridge, it identifies Queens distinctly as a borough and its name should not be altered.
Instead, Vallone said Koch could have another historic structure with great significance named in his honor. He said the Municipal Building in Lower Manhattan across the street from City Hall would be very appropriate since it is home to so many city agencies and offices.
Vallone stated his position on the name change prior to last week’s council hearing. Vallone, his hometown pride sorely offended, stated:
“Mayor Koch is truly a great man and deserving of an honor like this, but renaming a landmark so closely linked to our borough’s culture and history is not appropriate. The city would not ever rename the Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge should be treated equally.”
In explaining further his reasons for opposing the name change, Vallone said, the bridge is a part of the history of Queens and he compared its significance to that of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Expressway, “which no one would think of renaming”, he added.
Vallone pressed the point, saying, “The bridge is named for the Borough of Queens, it’s the bridge that pretty much put Queens on the map and started to bring people from Manhattan to Queens and opened Queens to the world and I believe it should be treated like a Queens icon.”
Marshall, in supporting Vallone, noted that the Queensboro Bridge, like other bridges connecting different parts of the city, told you where you were in the city.
Marshall stated, “I think we should leave them alone.”