Avenue A (Manhattan)
Avenue A is a north-south avenue located in Manhattan, New York City, east of First Avenue and west of Avenue B. It runs from Houston Street to 14th Street, where it continues into a loop road in Stuyvesant Town, connecting to Avenue B. Below Houston Street, Avenue A continues as Essex Street.
Under the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 that established the Manhattan street grid, the avenues would begin with First Avenue on the east side and run through Twelfth Avenue in the west. East of First Avenue the plan provided four additional lettered avenues running from Avenue A eastward to Avenue D wherever they could be fitted.
While First Avenue was the easternmost avenue in most of Manhattan, several discontinuous sections were designated as Avenue A north of present-day Alphabet City.
Asser Levy Place
A short section of Avenue A was cut off from the existing section in 1947 with the construction of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and is now known as Asser Levy Place, on which is located the Asser Levy Recreation Center and Park, which stretches from East 23rd to 25th Streets in Kips Bay. The Recreation Center includes the Asser Levy Public Baths, built in 1904-06.
Asser Levy Place closed in October 2013 to become part of the Recreation Center The park now contains concrete Ping-Pong tables, a track and field, exercise equipment, and painted children's games such as hopscotch. It is being built by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to replace the western end of the Robert Moses Playground at 42nd Street and FDR Drive being sold to the United Nations, in preparation for a future East River Greenway phase on the FDR Drive, underneath the United Nations headquarters between East 38th and 60th Streets.
Beekman Place, located at the headquarters of the United Nations, runs as a short street between Mitchell Place/49th Street and 51st Street. Though not part of the original Avenue A in the 1811 plan, it is named after the Beekman family (members of whom include Wilhelmus Beekman, whose namesakes also include downtown's Beekman Street and William Street), who were influential in New York City's development.
Sutton Place and York Avenue
Sutton Place was also formerly designated as Avenue A; in its original length it ran between East 53rd and 92nd Streets. Effingham B. Sutton constructed a group of brownstones in 1875 between 57th and 58th Streets, and is said to have lent the street his name, though the earliest source found by The New York Times dates back to 1883. The New York City Board of Aldermen approved a petition to change the name from "Avenue A" to "Sutton Place", covering the blocks between 57th and 60th Streets.
In 1928, a one-block section of Sutton Place north of East 59th Street, and all of Avenue A north of that point, was renamed York Avenue in honor of World War One US Army Sergeant Alvin York, who won the Medal of Honor for an attack in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on October 8, 1918. This section is the only former section of Avenue A to still use the Avenue A address system (as it only has four-digit building numbers).
The northernmost section of Avenue A, stretching between East 114th and 120th Streets in East Harlem, was renamed Pleasant Avenue in 1879. The addresses on Pleasant Avenue are not continuous with that on Avenue A (which would be in the 2000-series if they were continuous).
Pleasant Avenue is one of the last remaining streets in Italian Harlem, which existed in the eastern part of Harlem from the late 1890s to the 1970s. The neighborhood shrunk over the years, and the small remaining Italian population resides on Pleasant Avenue. The street is the site of one of the few remaining Italian restaurants in the area, Rao's, at 114th Street. The street had largely lost its Italian character by 2010. Every year on the second Sunday of August the Giglio Society of East Harlem performs the dancing Giglio on Pleasant Avenue. The dancing of the Giglio is an Italian tradition which began over 100 years ago. Both in real life and in the movies, Pleasant Avenue has long been associated with the Mafia. The street was the headquarters of Anthony Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, prior to his incarceration for racketeering in 1986.
The Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, formerly Benjamin Franklin High School, is located on Pleasant Avenue. In July 2010, Pleasant Avenue became the site of a Target store, at the East River Plaza at 517 East 117th Street.
On the same position on the Manhattan street grid:
- Essex Street, Lower East Side
Other lettered avenues in Alphabet City, Manhattan:
- REMARKS OF THE COMMISSIONERS FOR LAYING OUT STREETS AND ROADS IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, UNDER THE ACT OF APRIL 3, 1807, accessed May 2, 2007. "The avenues to the eastward of number one are marked A, B, C, and D."
- De-Classified 4-A, Forgotten NY. Accessed January 1, 2008.
- NYC Parks: Asser Levy Recreation Center
- "Asser Levy Recreation Center, Pool and Playground" on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website. Accessed:2011-02-17
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York:John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.88
- Heather Holland (2013-10-23). "Asser Levy Place to Close Permanently to Make Way for Park". DNA Info. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- Mary Johnson (2012-10-05). "Parks Department Unveils Plans to Convert Asser Levy Place into New Park". DNA Info. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- Aitken, William Benford (1912). Distinguished Families In America: Descended From Wilhelmus Beekman And Jan Thomasse Van Dyke. The Knickerbocker Press. Retrieved 2009-08-22.
- Senft, Bret. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Sutton Place; A Riverside Enclave for the Well-to-Do", The New York Times, June 12, 1994. Accessed December 27, 2007.
- Gray, Christopher. " Streetscapes/Sutton Place, Sutton Place South and One Sutton Place North; A Prestigious Enclave With a Name in Question", The New York Times, September 21, 2003. Accessed December 27, 2007.
- Pollak, Michael. "F. Y. I.", The New York Times, August 7, 2005. Accessed October 16, 2007. "In 1928, Sutton Place from 59th to 60th Street, and Avenue A north of 60th, were renamed York Avenue in honor of Sgt. Alvin C. York (1887-1964), a World War I hero from Tennessee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor."
- Pollak, Michael. F.Y.I. - They Hear Dead People", The New York Times, December 12, 2004. Accessed January 1, 2008.
- Fernandez, Manny (July 25, 2010). "On Pleasant Avenue, a Grisly Past Fades, and a Target Moves In". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- New York Times East Harlem Giglio Feast
- Kilgannon, Corey; and Mallozzi, Vincent M. "On Pleasant Avenue, a Mobbed-Up History Is Hard to Live Down", The New York Times, January 5, 2004. Accessed January 1, 2008.
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