Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) has rejected Rosie’s Theater Kids’ proposal to co-name the 400-block of W45th Street “Rosie’s Theater Kids Way” — telling the non-profit to come back when they celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Rosie's Theater Kids
Rosie’s Theater Kids started at PS51 and has been part of the neighborhood for 20 years. Photo supplied

“We can’t think of anything more special than to co-name our street after our organization,” said Lori Klinger, as Rosie’s Theater Kids celebrates its 20th anniversary. But MCB4 disagreed.

“Historically we have a pretty high bar to clear if we’re looking at a street naming and there needs to be some deep roots whether an individual or an organization,” said Transportation Planning Committee public member Brett Firfer. “Maybe when we’re at the 50th anniversary and we’ve got a bigger role of people who can talk about the direction of their lives and the impression you’ve made on them, that might be something.”

Rosie’s Theater Kids were given the opportunity to make their pitch to MCB4’s Transportation Planning Committee last week. Thousands of students participate in the non-profit’s year-round program and their application included signatures and testimonials from former students. Klinger told the committee that Rosie’s Theater Kids began as a program in PS 51 before moving to 445 W45th Street between 9/10th Avenue. 

“We want to galvanize the community that we live in here and our students and larger community to really celebrate our graduates and the work that we’ve done,” said Klinger, who founded the nonprofit with Hollywood star and Broadway’s cheerleader Rosie O’Donnell. “It’s really about our students. We think it would be great for them to have this home.”

Lori Klinger Rosie's Theater Hell's Kitchen
Lori Klinger was the co-founder of Rosie’s Theater Kids alongside Rosie O’Donnell. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The committee was wary of potentially setting a precedent for naming streets after organizations when nearly all street namings are done in honor of individuals. 

“It’s a little bit of a hard line for us to cross when we’re talking about an organization because it does serve as advertising,” said Firfer. 

Sesame Street renaming
Mayor DeBlasio and Big Bird at the renaming of W63rd St and Broadway in 2019. Photo: Paige Polk/Mayoral Photography Office

It was revealed by the committee that an application by Intrepid Museum to get a street co-named after them had also been rejected, despite them having a longer tenure at the end of W46th Street.

“It does seem like typically co-naming is reserved for individuals and specifically done posthumously for people who have passed away most commonly,” said Charles Todd, TPC member, who pointed out that the intersection of W63rd Street and Broadway was renamed “Sesame Street” in 2019. 

Recently, the intersection of W42nd Street between Dyer and 10th Avenue was named “Jim Houghton Way” and W46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue was named “Frances Perkins Place.” 

Jim Houghton Way
Elected officials at the renaming of part of W42nd Street as Jim Houghton Way last October. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The co-chair of the Transportation Planning Committee Jesse Greenwald acknowledged the difficulties many arts organizations are facing post-pandemic. “I think your organization is as important as ever has been and this is certainly not a reflection of that.” While recognizing the organization’s work, the full board of MCB4 voted by a majority to reject the proposal, saying in a letter to Council Member Erik Bottcher: “The Board believes that Secondary Street Co-Namings should be reserved for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to New York City and the relevant area.”

But despite the committee’s rejection, Klinger remained upbeat. “We’re getting ready for the 50th anniversary 30 years from now and then you’ll name the street for us,” she said.

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, I guess this magazine must be pretty important to get all of W42nd St named after it.

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