‘Sweet Spot’ With Mike Sugerman: (Mis)Pronouncing Van Wyck Expressway

“Sweet Spot,” by Mike Sugerman

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — It’s one of New York’s busiest and most controversial highways.

People call it all kinds of names, but probably mispronounce the most important one.

Interstate highway 678, a 9.3 mile stretch of road ending at JFK International Airport, was named for Robert Anderson van Wyck.

He was the first mayor of New York after it consolidated into five boroughs.

It’s the Van Wyck Expressway.

Ask typical New Yorkers and they will probably call it the Van “Wick,” like what’s on a candle.

People have been calling it that since it opened, but descendants of the former mayor don’t say it that way, because their name is pronounced Van “WHY-ck,” with a long “I” sound.

They get tired of people saying it wrong.

They now own a party planning firm in New York City, and when I called them, they told me just that.

Several years ago in fact, they called WCBS traffic reporter Tom Kaminski to let him know the family prefers the long “I” in Van Wyck, and that he should say it that way on the radio.

“That’s good enough for me,” he told them.

He and the rest of the WCBS traffic team have used that pronunciation ever since.

The Kosciuszko Bridge? Don’t even get us started.

Find more from the “Sweet Spot” here.

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