Harriet Tubman Avenue: City Council renames Harlem’s St. Nicolas Avenue in honor of famed abolitionist

What’s in a name? A lot, as the City Council meeting on July 10 showed. Several bills related to the renaming of departments and 13 different public places. One bill called for the changing of the name of the Organized Crime Control Commission to the Business Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission. Another asked that the Department of Public Health become the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

One of the renamed streets is Wheeler Avenue, between Westchester and Watson Avenues in the Bronx. It is now officially Amadou Diallo Place, named for the unarmed African immigrant who was cut down in a barrage of 41 police bullets in February of 1999.

Another newly named thoroughfare is Harriet Tubman Avenue in Harlem, which runs from West 111th Street to West 141st Street on what was formerly St. Nicholas Avenue. Speaking in favor of this change was Harlem Councilman Bill Perkins, who said, “This is the first and only major thoroughfare anywhere in the City of New York to be renamed for a woman—especially for a woman of African descent who is being acknowledged for having taken part in freeing enslaved Africans.”

Editor’s note: Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed this City Council directional, 22A, into law on July 29, 2002.

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