In 2007, the German/American Steuben Parade Committee, in honor of its 50th Anniversary - with Henry Kissinger as its Grand Marshall, together with members of the German American Community, including a former City Commissioner, came before Community Board 8 with a visual presentation of the historical life of Yorkville/Kleindeutschland, asking that 86th Street be named General von Steuben Way, or any other commemorative name i.e. Germantown Way, to show that this legendary ERA once existed.
Sadly the request was turned down by the Board - preservationists included - because of some “tradition” of the Board had of not naming streets, with the exception of the Museum Mile, Lou Gehrig, and James Cagney Way. In spite of this reason, key local elected officials felt that an exception should be made to the rule, as well as some key members of the Board themselves; Ambassador Klaus Scharioth, and other preservation organizations wrote letters of support, but the motion carried, although not unanimously, to deny such an exceptional request.
Ironically, after the fact, an investigation by the Board Chairman into this “tradition” found that no resolution for such a “tradition” ever existed.So the next month the Board immediately voted - again not unanimously - to establish a “tradition” over merit.Perhaps it is a way to bury their heads in the sand.Sadly, the local City Council member who could introduce the request into the City Council still honors the Board’s decision.Thus a “historic district” and memory of a famous ERA will be lost forever because of a resolution that never existed.
Suggested commemorating kiosks, or plaques only become soiled, or desecrated, are rarely read, and never truly represent a historical contribution.The Yorkville/Kleindeutschland Era deserves more than that.