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MTA Will Not Name Upper East Side Subway Station in Honor of Ed Koch

By Jill Colvin | February 4, 2013 6:10pm
 The 77th Street/Lexington Avenue subway station.
The 77th Street/Lexington Avenue subway station.
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Plans to rename an Upper East Side subway station in honor of former Mayor Ed Koch have run aground.

Koch, who died on Friday, already has a bridge that bears his name. But Rep. Carolyn Maloney had planned to announce a push after his funeral Monday to rename the East 77th Street/Lexington Avenue subway station — one Koch's favorite campaign stops — after the three-term mayor as well.

That was until the MTA got wind of the plan.

"We don't name subway stations after people. We have never named a subway station after anyone," MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said in response to the request.

Maloney had not run her request by the MTA before scheduling Monday's press conference, a spokesman for the congresswoman said.

Given the response, Maloney decided to alter her request Monday, asking for some other acknowledgement of Koch in the station instead.

"The subway renaming was the first idea that came to Rep. Maloney's mind, but officially she is looking for any way that will best honor Ed Koch's legacy at his favorite subway stop," her spokesman said.

Maloney suggested several alternatives, such as a photograph, a plaque or a piece of artwork.

"New Yorkers owe Mayor Koch a debt of gratitude for all that he did for New York. I urge you to find some way to recognize him at the subway station at 77th and Lexington Ave, his favorite subway station," Maloney wrote in a letter to the MTA's acting chair and president.

"Just as subway stations have always had artwork recognizing their place in our city‘s history, the station at 77th and Lexington Ave should have some physical memorialization of its role in the life of Hizzoner, Mayor Ed Koch."

Lisberg, however, shot down those ideas as well.

"We have an Arts for Transit program. We do not add plaques to subway stations to honor individuals," he said, arguing that "there are plenty of other opportunities in a neighborhood to honor people important to those neighborhoods."

The MTA has named stops after corporate sponsors, like the Barclays Center.

According to Maloney, Koch thought of East 77th Street and Lexington Avenue as his "lucky corner," and could frequently be spotted shaking hands, greeting voters and asking, in his signature phrase, 'How’m I doing?'"

“When I remember Ed Koch, I remember him here at the 77th Street 6-train stop reaching out to people and getting them to respond to him — showing us what a great leader does to make sure he is hearing from the people he represents,” Maloney said in a statement.

“This was his favorite place to look New Yorkers in the eye and ask them the question that defined him, the question that New Yorkers so often heard him ask: ‘How’m I doing?’"