June 4, 2010Justice Sotomayor Lived in Bronxdale Houses from 1957 to1969
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea today renamed one of its developments - the Bronxdale Houses located on Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx - in honor of United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses and Justice Sonia Sotomayor Community Center include 28, seven-story buildings comprising 1,497 apartments that house nearly 3,500 residents. The United States Supreme Court's first Hispanic-American justice, Justice Sotomayor grew up in the Bronxdale Houses from 1957 to1969. Bronxdale residents, housing advocates and Bronx elected officials petitioned to change the name to honor Justice Sotomayor. Joining Mayor Bloomberg, Chairman Rhea and Justice Sotomayor at the renaming ceremony were Deputy Mayors Carol A. Robles-Roman and Dennis M. Walcott, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., State Assembly Members Marcos A. Crespo and Carl E. Heastie, City Council Members Annabelle Palma and Rosie Mendez and Tenants Association President Regina Howell.
"Justice Sotomayor's story is unique, but it began like many - in a public housing development with a single mother whose first language was not English and who worked hard to put food on the table," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Her achievements are an inspiration to millions of New Yorkers, especially our NYCHA residents young and old, who can look to her story to get a glimpse of the possibilities that await anyone who has the courage and determination to follow a dream. Su historia es el orgullo de Nueva York. Es una inspiración para madres solteras, para padres en viviendas públicas y para niñas y niños en todo el país!"
"I am deeply humbled and touched that these Houses will now bear my name and I am so grateful for all they have given me in my life," said Justice Sotomayor. "It was the people who lived here who transformed these buildings into community. The members of that community sustained each other and helped the next generation to grow. It is important for the broader community to remain committed to assisting the residents of this place so that other little Sonias will reach their dreams."
"From NYCHA's perspective, Justice Sotomayor has shown that growing up in public housing does not limit one's possibilities and in fact has served as an important foundation for so many exceptional Americans," said NYCHA Chairman Rhea. "Today's ceremony is a further testament to Justice Sotomayor's character, to her love for the families of this community, and to her deep desire to be a beacon for those who will follow in her footsteps and, later, blaze bright new trails of their own. Ella es una estrella brillante que ha servido de ejemplo para otras estrellitas brillantes del futuro que vendran de Bronxdale."
"Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one of the most compelling figures to ever come out of Bronx and New York City, and this renaming is a fitting tribute to a woman who has always dedicated herself to the people of New York," said Senator Schumer. "She is a brilliant, honorable and hard working judge who has had a profound effect on the Bronx, New York City, and the nation as a whole. Naming the Bronxdale Houses after her is an appropriate honor - because it says to every child who lives here from this day forward: believe in yourself; believe in your dreams; nada es imposible."
"Justice Sonia Sotomayor's success demonstrates the role public housing can play in providing new opportunities to working families" said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. "As a former resident of the Bronxdale Houses, she has never forgotten where she came from and is truly deserving of this honor."
"Renaming the Bronxdale Houses in honor of Justice Sonia Sotomayor will etch into the fabric of this community an understanding of her achievement and success," said Council Member Annabelle Palma, whose district includes the Sotomayor Houses. "The children of this community will feel free to pursue their dreams, both at home and beyond Rosedale Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, and go wherever they believe their hard work and dedication can take them."
"Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican woman who grew up in New York City public housing, has attained one of the most prestigious positions in this country," said Council Member Rosie Mendez, Chair of the New York City Council Committee on Public Housing. "Justice Sotomayor is a role model for so many New Yorkers, public housing residents and Latinos across the nation. Today, I salute her, NYCHA and the residents of the Bronxdale Houses for recognizing the Justice by renaming the development in her honor."
"I am thrilled that we have chosen to honor Sonia Sotomayor, a proud daughter of the Bronx, by renaming the Bronxdale Houses after its most famous former resident," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "Justice Sotomayor is bigger than the Yankees to Bronxites, and by renaming the Bronxdale Houses after her we can remind our youth that the American dream is alive--that one can rise from humble beginnings to the highest halls of power."
"The renaming of Bronxdale Houses to Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses is a fitting tribute to this outstanding American who, by her service, has already made an indelible mark on this country," said HUD Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez. "I thank the City of New York and the New York City Housing Authority for honoring Justice Sotomayor in this way. This renaming is a real testament for us all that regardless of where one lives, through education, hard work and perseverance, one can make a significant and lasting contribution to this nation."
"Naming places for outstanding people in history is our collective way of memorializing that America is a place where it matters not where you start, but where you end up," said HUD Regional Administrator Adolfo Carrión. "As a New Yorker, and as part of the Obama Administration, I want to thank the Board of the New York City Housing Authority for recognizing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in such an historic and meaningful way. Children growing up in public housing across America should know that there are no limits to what they can accomplish."
"We acknowledge and welcome renaming Bronxdale in Justice Sotomayor's honor because this occasion also honors all Bronxdale residents-and all public housing residents," said Regina Howell, Tenants Association president of the Sotomayor Houses. "It will serve as a statement of hope for future generations of public housing residents that we can follow Justice Sotomayor's example and reach even greater heights."
Justice Sotomayor, who is of Puerto Rican descent, lived at the then Bronxdale Houses with her mother, father and her brother at 1825 Bruckner Blvd. In 1972, the Justice graduated as valedictorian from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. She received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University and her law degree from Yale Law School. Over a thirty year career she served as an assistant district attorney; a commercial litigator; a U.S. District Court Judge; and a U.S. Appellate Court Judge. In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her to serve as the 111th Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 8, 2009, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
NYCHA has 334 developments, of which 99 are named after individuals. Only one other development - the Ralph Rangel Houses in Harlem - has been named after a former resident, following the death of Ralph Rangel, a community activist and former tenant association president.