May 16, 2007

Street May Be Named After Two Sun Editors

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Two famous Cornell alumni and former Sun editors are competing for the honor of having a street named after them, The New York Sun reported today. The street may also be co-named.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ’44, a former Sun associate editor and assistant managing editor, lived on East 48th Street near Second Avenue in Manhattan before dying on April 11. E.B White ’21, a former Sun editor in chief, lived on and wrote about 48th Street in the 1920s and 1930s.
The neighborhood community council, called Community Board 6, voted last week to rename the corner after either Vonnegut or White, according to The New York Sun. Vonnegut’s wife, Jill Krementz, requested the street co-naming through the Turtle Bay Association.
The Turtle Bay Association is the self-proclaimed “neighborhood watchdog” of Turtle Bay, a neighborhood on the East Side of Manhattan that extends between 42nd and 53rd Streets from Lexington Avenue to the East River, according to the Association’s website.
The City Council will consider a bill of 50 street co-namings later this month, according to The New York Sun. Community Boards on the East Side of Manhattan have tried in the past to make street-naming more exclusive than the City Council has; nominees must have made a lasting contribution to “the intellectual vitality of the community or the nation” and have a “significant affiliation” to the community where the naming would be done.
Vonnegut wrote novels, essays, short fiction, poetry and plays. His novels became icons of ’60s and ’70s counterculture, and Vonnegut is often considered a literary idol. His work, including cult-classic Slaughterhouse-Five, is still widely read today.
Members of Community Board 6 told The New York Sun that since his work is staple literature and he had a strong bond with the community, he was the right kind of candidate for street naming. They said Kurt Vonnegut Way was a “no-brainer.”
City Council member Daniel Garodnick, who represents the neighborhood, could bring the street renaming request before the Council’s Parks Committee in October. Garodnick told The New York Sun he would consider the request.
In addition to residing on 48th Street for many years, White also wrote essays about the neighborhood. In 1948, he wrote “Here is New York,” in which he verbalized his wonder about the city.
“[A] battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire,” White wrote about a tree on 48th Street. “In a way, it symbolizes the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete and the steady reaching for the sun.”
Elwyn Brooks White wrote for two newspapers in Seattle before returning to New York, where he wrote for The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine. White wrote 20 books of prose and poetry, as well as revising and republishing The Elements of Style
White lived mainly in Maine, but intermittently stayed at his duplex on 48th until his death in 1985 at age 86, according to The New York Times.
For The Sun’s coverage of Vonnegut’s recent death, click here.