May 30, 2017
For the next week, street in front of the Daily News Building, where legendary columnist colorfully captured New York City, will be temporarily renamed in his honor
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the block of 42nd Street between Second and Third Avenues in midtown Manhattan will be temporarily renamed after legendary newspaper columnist and author Jimmy Breslin, who died in March at the age of 88. The sign is on the block of the former home of the Daily News, the newspaper where Breslin worked the longest.
“Jimmy Breslin told stories with a vivid eye for detail and in the inimitable voice of a true New Yorker,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “For decades, from the Kennedy assassination to the Son of Sam and beyond, his writing provided must-read accounts that helped to define seminal news events in our collective memory. His gritty and real columns underscored a serious and deep concern for the most downtrodden amongst us, helping to define modern journalism. Now, the block that was once home to the Daily News will officially be named for him – a fitting tribute to one of New York’s greats.”
Jimmy Breslin was born in Jamaica, Queens and began his career as a copy boy for the Long Island Press in the 1940s. His writing first gained national attention when after the Kennedy assassination, he interviewed the diggers of President John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery. Over his career, Breslin served as a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, the New York Journal American, and Newsday. His two separate tenures at the New York Daily News spanned 18 years, wherein he won both the George Polk award (1985) and the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary (1986). Over a career of sixty years, Breslin also authored more than 20 books, including Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game? and The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
“No other city in world would have a tough writer from Richmond Hill, Queens up on a lamppost next to the names Nelson Mandela and Yitzhak Rabin,” said Kevin Breslin, son of Jimmy Breslin. “May his spirit inspire many generations of journalists to come.”
The Mayor has the power to temporarily rename a street for a matter of days. A permanent name change process for a street is handled through the legislative process following the introduction of a co-naming by a City Council Member, Council approval, and, ultimately, a mayoral signature. The Administration will continue to work with the Council, the community, and Breslin’s family, friends and colleagues on a permanent way to honor his legacy.
“We are proud to honor Jimmy Breslin along 42nd Street. a great New York City street where over sixty years of reporting, he helped establish the hard-edged, gumshoe reporting that defined an era of journalism,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Along with Ronnie Eldridge, his incredible wife of the last 34 years, Jimmy hardly slowed in his so-called “golden years.” Instead, he bravely showed us until his final days all that New Yorkers can do much to make change all around this great City. I offer my condolences to his entire family on their recent loss, and I am so gratified we could honor him in this way.”
“Jimmy Breslin was the quintessential New Yorker: streetwise, honest, and passionately invested in our city,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “He was also the quintessential newspaperman: a fearless truth-teller who comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. I hope his name on this block inspires us all, inside and outside of journalism, in an era when we need truth-tellers more than ever.”
"Today, we honor a lifelong New Yorker whose prolific writing shone a light on the lives and stories of everyday citizens,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “Jimmy Breslin's remarkable career spanned decades and embodied New York City at its most human level. I'm proud to have been his State Senator and that of his wife Ronnie Eldridge, and am grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for recognizing Mr. Breslin's legacy in today's street renaming."
“Jimmy Breslin has left an extraordinary legacy that goes far beyond the writings on a page,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart. “His no-holds-barred search for truth and overlooked angles pushed journalism to a new era. When Jimmy was around, the powerful knew they would be held accountable and the disenfranchised knew their voice would finally be heard. His artful and groundbreaking coverage of pivotal moments shaped our state and nation’s history, shining light on the undiscovered. It is an honor to be part of this tribute and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.”
"Jimmy Breslin's commentary was a window into all things New York: from dark crime dens to the shining spirit of everyday men and women across our great city," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "His columns ranged from biting to inspiring, yet each one was unabashedly Breslin. He was an icon for our city and I am pleased we can honor his legacy today."