NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When former Mayor Ed Koch died this past winter, many New Yorkers looked back at video clips of him waving and yelling, “Welcome to my bridge!” at several passing vehicles — including a livery cab transporting current Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But if one City Councilman has his way, the Queensboro Bridge at 59th Street will not be Koch’s bridge for much longer. But the issue has nothing to do with Koch personally.
The bridge was renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge for Koch in 2011. And City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-22nd) says it’s nothing personal, but he wants Koch’s name removed.
“From day one, I’ve said this is not about Ed Koch,” Vallone told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “He’s always been a good friend to my family; a good friend to my father. He’s always supported me in the past.”
Koch was honored to have his name given to the bridge.
“I’m full of gratitude and grateful, uh it’s wonderful,” he said.
The issue, Vallone said, is borough pride for Queens.
“Can you imagine the people of Brooklyn being OK with the Brooklyn Bridge being renamed, or the Manhattan Bridge being renamed?” Vallone said. “Only in Queens were they allowed to get away with this.”
It isn’t that Vallone has any problem with the deceased mayor, he simply wants to see him honored in a different way.
“From the beginning I said the Municipal Building next to City Hall should be renamed the Ed Koch Municipal Building,” Vallone said.
New Yorkers speaking with CBS 2’s Steve Langford appeared somewhat split on the idea of removing Koch’s name; Queens residents seemed to favor a change more so than others.
“Queensboro Bridge, the original name,” said one Queens resident.
But in Manhattan the former Mayor received more support.
“Ed Koch, definitely,” said one person speaking with CBS 2’s Langford.
Vallone opposed adding Koch’s name from the start, and has now put in a bill that would revert the bridge back to just being called the Queensboro Bridge. The change would be for the people of the borough, Vallone said.
“We’ll return the bridge to its rightful owners,” he said.
As for honoring Koch, Vallone suggested having the Municipal Building near City Hall bear the former mayor’s name.
The Queensboro Bridge was completed in 1909, and also has been known commonly as the 59th Street Bridge. After it was renamed for Koch, the “Welcome to my bridge” line got so much attention that people made a ringtone out of it.
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