Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Naming of Streets

In his book Historic Hudson: An Architectural History, Byrne Fone reports that in 1799 the name of Hudson's principal thoroughfare was changed from Main Street to Warren Street: "One day, Hudsonians saw messages in red and yellow chalked on fences along the street summarily informing them that 'this street is no longer Main Street but called Warren Street by order of the Common Council.'"

We know that once upon a time, the street we now know as Columbia Street was called Diamond Street, but at different points in the 19th century and early 20th century, sections of the street had different names. The street west of Third Street was called Fulton Street, and above Sixth Street, the street was called Gifford Place, because the residences of Elihu Gifford and five of his sons and the Gifford Foundry were all located there. Eventually, the name Diamond Street was abandoned altogether in favor in the street's current name: Columbia Street.

In 1913, there was an effort to rename Front Street. Residents of South Front Street wanted to call it Sheridan Avenue, after Philip Henry Sheridan, the Civil War general who had been born in Albany. Residents of North Front Street preferred the name Broadway. In August 1913, Alderman Thomas Connelly, who represented the First Ward, introduced a motion in the Common Council to rename Front Street Sheridan Avenue. The motion failed, and after that it seems people gave up on the idea of renaming Front Street.

To Gossips' knowledge, no streets in Hudson have had their names changed since 1926, when, according to Bruce Edward Hall in his book Diamond Street, the name of that notorious street was changed to Columbia Street--from the river all the way up to Eighth Street. (Beyond that, it had always been called Columbia Street.) But Gossips has learned there is a move afoot not to rename streets exactly but to allow honorary street naming.

In mid-August, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) directed Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, to draft legislation modeled after Article IIA in the City of Albany code, which allows for "Honorary Street Namings." According to the Albany code, "These honorary street names are meant to commemorate the honoree and do not replace the official street name or require re-addressing of the street involved." Apparently, it's just more signage. 

Garrgia has some specific people and streets in mind. North Second Street is to be "Joette Bell Way," in honor of the first African-American woman to be elected to the Common Council. The corner of North Third and Robinson streets is to be "Rev. Ed Cross Way," to recognize the man who served as Second Ward supervisor for two decades and lives on Robinson Street. Glenwood Boulevard is to be "Robert Doc Donahue Way," in honor of the man who served for twelve consecutive terms as Fifth Ward alderman and lived on Glenwood Boulevard.

It is not clear if the draft legislation will be presented at the informal meeting of the Common Council tomorrow night or not.


  1. I remember when Ellen Thurston was being honored as Citizen of the Year and the event was at the Opera House, City Hall Place was temporarily renamed for Ellen. I'm not sure if it was Thurston Place?

    1. It was Thurston Place. Victor Mendolia came up with the idea and carried it out: