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46th Street–by Sunnyside Arch– Likely to be Named After Luke Adams

Luke Adams (middle)

Luke Adams (middle)

Nov. 21, 2014 By Christian Murray

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 have started the process to name a street after Luke Adams, the long-time Sunnysider who passed away about two weeks ago.

Van Bramer said shortly after Adams’ death several people approached him and wanted a street named after him. Adams, who lived in Sunnyside for nearly 40 years, was known throughout the community for his work with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, Sunnyside/Woodside Lions Club and SunnysideArtists.

“It was no surprise that everyone wanted a street named after him,” Van Bramer said.

“Luke was so involved in the neighborhood—and on a consistent basis—for the better part of 30 years,” Van Bramer said.

The community board is still deciding what street should be named after him. It has narrowed it down to two streets: 46th Street (between Queens Blvd and Greenpoint Avenue) and 43rd Street/47th Avenue where he lived.

The street would be named “Luke Adams Way,” an apt named for someone who was known as having strong opinions.

“I think there is more support for 46th Street,” Van Bramer said, who has to get the city council to sign off on it. However, “I am going to defer that decision to the community and those people closest to him.”

Patricia Dorfman, who was a very close friend of Adams, said that she was initially an advocate for 43rd Street but now views 46th Street by the arch to be more appropriate.

“His business was located on 46th street,” Dorfman said. She said that he was very involved in maintaining the arch in its early years and his name should be more prominently placed.

Van Bramer said if a decision is made quickly he would be able to get it through the city council shortly. If that is the case, we could have an unveiling in spring.”

email the author: news@queenspost.com

31 Comments

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El loco

Hey you forgot Cathy Nolan also. I guarantee she gets a street. I hope that I live on Cathy Nolan street.

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Patricia Dorfman

Luke’s business, Don Bar Travel, was on 46th. He worked with Gateway Restoration the group who created the arch in 1983, not universally popular at the time. My neighbor, Elizabeth Polk, who died here at 99, used to call it “monstrous.”

Over time, even with its increasingly distressed facade, the arch came to be seen more of charming deco symbol of another era by some, or a funny, funky landmark by newer residents. Luke worked for years as part of the Chamber of Commerce with others to get it restored.

He was not happy with the current restoration, done by well-meaning people in the Sunnyside Shines/BID. The problem is that LED lights were installed and it is impossible to have all white or all one color, so at night the arch looks like a fishing motel in the Florida Keys. One hope that a future restoration can bring back the ability to have just one color, say white, at night.

But the revamping of the arch area and the surface of the arch are vastly improved from the depressing, crumbling mess there before, and the public money contributed by our elected officials was not wasted. Next iteration, maybe a public water fountain?

Luke was indeed abrasive at times. But that same abrasiveness was the flip side of a person with the kindest heart in Sunnyside. Every day, I hear another story of a wonderful thing he did for helpless, impoverished, or abused person in distress, spending his own money – a lifestyle that left him flat broke. He was the person you went to get things done, and he got it done. He had a quality of fearlessness that was like a fresh breeze.

Dorothy Morehead had a good idea, which was to add to the arch some small permanent notation of Luke’s accomplishments, to explain to new people why his name would be on the street. It would be ideal to have the street name at both corners.

If you want to read more about Luke, please check out an obituary in the Woodside Herald:
http://www.woodsideherald.com/uploads/Woodside_Herald_11_14_14.pdf

We will soon get up online Luke’s “Good Old Days” historic photos on the Chamber website, so the work he meticulously compiled is not lost. Most of us live here because we love it and there is a reason. Areas of Queens with no “protectors” or boosters show how the unpretentious, homey, safe-feeling, leafy, “big sky “charm can be gone in the blink of an eye when no one cares. I hope people reading this will join civic groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, which work to represent local voices.

We are about to have our lives dominated by people who live elsewhere but see Western Queens and now Sunnyside Yards as a pie to be gobbled quickly, leaving us more crowded, more polluted, without parks, dealing with construction noise for decades, losing our treasured small businesses and professionals.

The aspects of this area that attract us were the work of “founding fathers” and their protégés, some still with us, who may not get streets, but should be remembered and thanked — Louis Lodati, Anthony Lodati, Joe Sabba, Buster Sabba, Henry Billharz, Tony Lana, Beverly Keegan, Walter McCaffrey, Gert McDonald, Frances Schmidt, Donald McCallian, Father Finnerty, Claire Craft, Ben Shaw, Joanne & Bob Billharz, Lily Gavin, Maureen Lynch, Murray Fox, Irving Lederman and many, many more. (Luke is not here for me to ask.)

I fear that the “small town in the big city” Luke worked night and day to preserve is at risk. If we can have his name there in our town center, it will be a reminder to children that what we mean it when we say their purpose is a better world not just for some but for all. Most I know are thrilled that Councilman Van Bramer and Joe Conley are working for the street naming. Tony Lana, head of the Sunnyside Drum Corps, and Simon Donikian, our most famous local artist, suggested the arch location for dual renaming.

I am filled with grief and this action is quite comforting.

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Julia Asssange

Luke was usually very nice but he had a very slanted point of view and could be disrespectful to people who disagreed with him.

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satan hates bunnies, probably

aint no bliss goin on in blissville!!!
what a hellhole
autoshops, a cemetary and latino hookers
good view of manhattan tho
needs to be gentrified
my dream is to one day to walk to Greenpoint

Reply
chaim weiss

@ Dorothy ..thank you for the unsolicited history lesson. .I suggest we save street naming for real heroes. .btw I agree with Sunnyside post readers comments…just plain common sense

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Dorothy Morehead

I guess my comments were not posted, so I’ll repeat.
Many of the streets in Sunnyside are already named for people. Bliss Street, for example, was named for Neziah Bliss, a contemporary of Robert Fulton, who also developed Blissville on the shore of Newtown Creek in the early 1800s.

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Dorothy Morehead

The last post was mine. I don’t know what happened to my name–I never post anonymously.

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Anonymous visitor

Most of our streets are already named after people. Bliss Street, for example, was named after Neziah Bliss, a contemporary of Robert Fulton, who started a ferry service to Blissville, named for who else but himself.

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El loco

Hey Sunnysider for a 50 years. What does any real Sunnysider mean? Hanging out at one of the bars all day? Being in some business group that serves a small fraction of the population? Being in a political organization that freezes out all ethnic groups but your own. Yeh we know which group we’re talking about. That’s a real Sunnysider.

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Anonymous visitor

I don’t like the lighting on the arch either, but, the people who show a complete lack of respect for beloved members of this community parade their shallow comprehension of the meaning of “community.” They probably embrace the identifier “consumer” rather than “citizen.”

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satan hates bunnies, probably

and i will use the words “luke adams way” about the same number of time as i do “ed koch queensborough bridge”

– zip

nothing against the guy, street naming is useless.

By the way, local politicians got 500K to restore the arch like 10 years ago, the money disappeared and 5 years later they painted it white and lit it up llike a vegas motel. Thats what we got for 500,000 – it seems to be half lit now, broken.

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Sunnysider for 50 years

And by the way Reader, random people? You have got to be kidding me! Every real Sunnysider knew Luke!

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Sunnysider for 50 years

Seriously! Luke Adams is an icon! I may have not always agreed with him, but he has been working to make this neighborhood better for over 30 years. He deserves to have a street named after him. Those who knew him can walk by that street and remember how great Luke was! I want to know what’s the problem with naming a street after Luke?

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Sunnyside Post Reader

Can you please enlighten me and all other SP readers who may not have heard about Luke Adams and what he has done for the community? We would really love to know more about him but every other article that mentions his name fails to explain why he was a great person, and what he has done. if he was a great person, helpful and honest, and was always there for all his friends, well, isn’t that what everyone should be doing? If you tell me that he helped keep all 10 bus stops in Sunnyside when MTA wanted remove some of them due to many frequent stops, I’d applaud the man. You see these are the things we want to hear when we hear about “such a great person for the community”. Because it seems like there is still a very small group of people in Sunnyside who think they own the neighborhood, looking at all young folks as “hipster” or “disrespecting starbucks drinking yuppies”.

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Julia Asssange

It’s all about fellow travelers connecting and honoring each other because they think the same way and hang out with the same people!

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El loco

He does not deserve this honor. Put up a plaque in Van Bramer’s office and let Jimmy take a photo. I hope it’s not my street. Sorry to come off as cold but just because he was a member of an organization that served a fraction of the population that doesn’t mean he deserved it.

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Sunnyside Post Reader

Stop naming the streets after random people please. Yes, this gentleman may have done a lot of the neighborhood that we’ve never heard of, but JVB is just going too far with this street naming nonsense. If you all want to honor those who did great job in our “great” neighborhood, just put up a wall of fame or some kind of board by the sunnyside entrance at another NAMED spot, Joe Sabba park and then be doe with it. Whenever anyone wants to see those great people who served our community, they can go check the wall and remember them, and maybe JVB can pay that out of his own budget instead of using our tax dollars.

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