When it comes to getting a street named after you in Manhattan, apparently landing a plane full of people safely on the Hudson River doesn’t quite cut it. Manhattan Community Board 4, the gatekeepers of Hell’s Kitchen nomenclature, have decided that Captain Sully’s heroic feat falls, quite literally, a river short of W50th Street.
“Although we applaud his heroic efforts to land the plane on the Hudson, it was not landed on 50th Street,” said Transportation Planning Committee (TCP) co-chair Jesse Greenwald during last night’s Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) Meeting.
The full board decided to reject a proposal to rename part of W50th Street after Captain CB “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously made an emergency landing of a passenger plane in the Hudson River — with all 155 people on board surviving after a bird strike shortly after takeoff.
Linda Lipman, who worked alongside Sullenberger as a publicist at Hiltzik Strategies, proposed the street renaming during the MCB4 Transport Committee meeting last month.
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“I thought it was really time for New York to commemorate that moment,” said Lipman. “That was the thinking and when I asked for his permission he was very, very happy about it.” She clarified that her involvement is not tied to any paid effort to rename the street.
Lipman also explained that the 15th anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson” will be celebrated next year on January 15. Sully Street at W50th Street would mark the geographical line where he landed the plane and was proposed as a fitting tribute and landmark in the neighborhood.
The Community Board voted last night to write to the Department of Transportation and Councilmember Erik Bottcher denying the request. They said in their letter: “The Board found that the applicant did not meet the intent of the Board’s guidelines regarding Secondary Street Re-Namings. Although the Board acknowledges the heroism displayed by Captain Sullenberger on January 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency landing on the Hudson River, the Board believes that Secondary Street Co-Namings should be reserved for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary longstanding commitment to New York City and the relevant area.”
The Board also suggested that Captain Sullenberger’s heroism would be more appropriately celebrated with a plaque closer to the Hudson River.
“Maybe you’re able to petition the governor and rename the Hudson,” said Greenwald during September’s TCP meeting. “She might be happy to do that as he [Henry Hudson] has been dead for like 400 years.”
“There is no question in my mind that he is a hero. My only disconnect is the amount of time the captain has spent in the area and particularly on those blocks,” said TCP member Charles Todd. “It doesn’t feel very connected to the man.”
Sullenberger’s daunting emergency landing in the Hudson River made headlines around the world and he is widely considered a hero. Sullenberger’s US Airways Flight suffered a bird strike as it took off from LaGuardia Airport. He could not return to LaGuardia or make an emergency landing at Teterboro Airport, and instead made the decision to land the plane on the Hudson River. All 155 people on the flight survived after a dramatic river rescue.
Sullenberger’s heroics were documented in the film Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, with Tom Hanks playing the role of Sullenberger and Clint Eastwood directing. Sullenberger won numerous awards for his miraculous landing, including the Key to New York City and being named in Time’s 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons in 2009.
What does it take to be a Hell’s Hero? Maybe ask Steve Olsen and Catie Savage!? Or check out those who already have Hell’s Kitchen street names like Frances Perkins, Jim Houghton and Captain Terrence S Hatton. And if you think that you need to be dead to get a street name in New York, think again! The Beastie Boys got a square named after them just last month.
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