The dual designation of State Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Street was made official yesterday.
About 200 people watched and cheered as the first street sign for Martin Luther King Jr. Street was revealed at about 9 a.m.. The ceremony was one of the highlights of the annual Martin Luther King Day celebrations in Ithaca.
Property owners can choose to retain their State Street mailing address or adopt a new Martin Luther King Jr. Street address. Unless they requested a change of address through the Ithaca Fire Department, mailing addresses will remain unchanged.
The idea of dually naming State Street was initiated five years ago, when Ithaca School District students in the Circle of Recovery youth group first suggested renaming State Street in honor of the civil rights activist. 1,400 people signed a petition, which, in turn, incited controversy followed.
[img_assist|nid=34231|title=Same Street, New Name|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
While some Ithacans believed renaming the street would both encourage and commemorate the fight against racism, others had practical concerns over changing mailing addresses. Some were also against the loss of a historical street name as State Street is one of Ithaca’s oldest and most traveled streets.
The original proposal was turned down by the Board of Public Works. The dual designation of State Street served as a compromise, and the resolution was passed on November 13 last year.
Apart from dually naming State Street, the city is also in the process of creating a Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Walk. The route will highlight historical sights in Ithaca, including Cornell’s Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African American fraternity in the country.
Gino Bush, founder of the Circle of Recovery class at Ithaca High School that initiated the renaming project, was awarded the annual Peacemaker Award from the Community Dispute Resolution Center on Saturday.
City Votes to Dually Name State St. For MLK After Four-Year Debate