How can New Yorkers best commemorate Jimmy Breslin, who died last week?
How about naming something after one of the greatest newspaper columnists of the 20th century, perhaps something that connects to his hometown, Queens?
We already have the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, named after the former governor, which replaced the name Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel; the Jackie Robinson Parkway and the Joe DiMaggio Highway, which replaced the names Interboro Parkway and West Side Highway; and the Ed Koch Bridge, which replaced the name Queensboro Bridge.
To gain some perspective, we turned to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who effected the renaming of the Triborough Bridge to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Spitzer said he championed the change after being contacted by the senator’s son, Robert Kennedy Jr., six months into his term.
“I said, ‘Everyone thinks Senator Kennedy was a hero, but are you sure that is what you want named after him?’ ” Spitzer said. “He said that is what they as a family wanted. It ultimately wound its way through.” But Spitzer had to resign. His successor, David Paterson, finalized the change in 2008.
Breslin was close to the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts but he had a strong Kennedy connection. His most praised column was that of the gravedigger of President John F. Kennedy.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who eulogized Breslin last week, also had a Kennedy connection. He was married to Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry, and they had three children.
“The Cuomo and the Breslin families grew up together in Queens,” Cuomo said. “He would come to the house and sit with my father at the kitchen table . . . They would have a drink and talk for hours, railing against the injustices in life and the failures of the system . . .They were great crusaders for justice, always on the side of the little guy.”
It’s unlikely that Cuomo would even consider renaming the RFK bridge — with its connection to Queens — after Breslin. But he could rename something else.
“The idea is to find something for a great journalist that is metaphorically appropriate,” Spitzer said. “Something that is part of the culture of the city. Changing the name of the RFK Bridge is political. But what about the Whitestone Bridge? Or the Throgs Neck Bridge?”
Hey, what about the Kosciuszko Bridge?