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Jon Hamm's Block Too Star-Studded to Be Named for Political Bigwig: Locals

By Emily Frost | January 14, 2015 1:54pm
 Residents of the block said they want to preserve its identity as an artist's colony and not name it after the political consultant David Garth. 
David Garth Street Renaming
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A political consultant who neighbors want to rename a local block after is not famous enough to earn the honor on the star-studded street — which has boasted such residents as Norman Rockwell and Jon Hamm — according to locals who ripped the pick for "not being a household name." 

David Garth — who is known as the father of political TV ads and who directed successful campaigns for mayors John Lindsay, Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani — lived on West 67th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West before passing away last month

But so did a host of instantly recognizable names, such as artists like Rockwell and Marcel Duchamp, complained residents who opposed the renaming. 

Locals arguing against the proposal at a Tuesday night meeting of Community Board 7 insisted that are there far greater celebrities who have called the block home, including Noel Coward, Isadora Duncan, George Balanchine and Rudolph Valentino, among dozens of others.

The list "goes on and on," noted resident Tom Lynch, with another neighbor adding that "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm is also a resident of the block.

"To name [the block] after a private political consultant seems to besmirch the standard character of the block," said West 67th Street resident Jared Danziger.

Residents of the street said they weren't consulted about the plan, which was driven by fans and colleagues at Garth's firm the Garth Group Inc. The city stipulates that renamings can only occur after the person has died. 

"Even on the block people did not know who David Garth was," said Arlene Simon, a 40-year resident, who collected close to 70 signatures from her neighbors opposing the naming.

Instead of choosing one of the more famous residents who lived the street, "what we really need is a long plaque of names," explained Sue Robotti, a block resident and a member of Community Board 7, whose approval is needed for any street renaming.

"There are too many good people to chose from, and the preference I’ve heard is for it not be to named after anyone ever," she said.   

But Upper West Sider Richard Fife, who presented the case for the renaming, argued Garth actually was famous enough to make the cut. 

Furthermore, he added, "I don’t think [the renaming] diminishes the other famous people who live on the block."

For resident Madge Rosenberg, however, naming it after Garth goes against the personality of the block. 

"I would like to keep 67th Street the writers-and-artists street that it’s known as now… and not for a businessman," she said. 

Buildings on the block were designed and built in the early 20th century to attract artists, with large windows that allow ample light.

In the face of overwhelming criticism, including letters sent to the board opposing the move, Fife and the handful of Garth supporters who appeared Tuesday ultimately decided to withdraw the application altogether.

One resident urged the group to try for a renaming on a stretch of Fifth Avenue between West 57th and West 58th streets, where Garth had his office, but they did not comment on whether they'd pursue that suggestion.