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Mosco Street to be co-named Corky Lee Way

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Mosco Street in Chinatown will officially be co-named Corky Lee Way in an Oct. 22 ceremony in honor of the late documentary photographer.

The Estate of Corky Lee announced the news on his birthday, Sept. 5.

One block long, Mosco Street runs between Mulberry and Mott Streets just east of Columbus Park. Relatively steeply sloped for long-since-leveled-out Manhattan, it used to be a popular sledding spot in winters.

The co-naming involves adding an additional street sign below the current one for Mosco Street. The street was renamed in 1982 for community activist Frank Mosco, before which it was called Cross Street.

Lee died in January 2021 from COVID.

He claimed the quirky title of “The Undisputed, Unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate.”

In 1975, Chinatown residents turned out to march in huge numbers to protest after Peter Yew was brutalized by Fifth Precinct police after a traffic incident. (Detail of photo by Corky Lee)

In his most famous project, Lee reshot the photo of the “golden spike ceremony” in Utah marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. For his updated photo, though, Lee gathered descendants of the Chinese immigrant workers who had toiled laying the tracks — but were excluded from the original shot. Lee brought everyone together again in subsequent years to reshoot the photo a few more times. A housing activist in his younger years, he was also known for photographing protests and the cultural and daily life of Chinatown.

Following obituaries on Lee published by The Village Sun and a few other media outlets, the legend of Corky Lee and his photojournalism and fighting activism on behalf of the Asian American Pacific Islander community soon went viral, becoming a national and international news story.

Corky Lee’s Google Doodle from this past May. (Google)

In related news, a new photo book, “Corky Lee’s Asian America: Fifty Years of Photographic Justice,” a major retrospective of the humble lensman’s work, published by Penguin Random House, is going to the printer.

In yet more fairly recent Corky Lee news, he was featured as the Google Doodle on May 5.

The street co-naming was O.K.’d by the City Council in June.

In other street renamings and co-namings done in the same City Council vote, the intersection of E. Fourth Street and Cooper Square has been co-named Frances Goldin Way, in honor of the late housing activist who was a leader in the fight to save affordable housing in the Cooper Square area of the East Village and Lower East Side.

Also, Varick Street between Watts and Springs Streets has been co-named Hudson Square.

Correction: According to advocates who have been working on the Corky Lee Way street co-naming effort, it is just that, a co-naming — not a renaming, as The Village Sun first reported. 

One Comment

  1. Frank Mosco Frank Mosco March 13, 2024

    First it was Cross Street, then it became Park Street, then it became Mosco Street. The first street in NY named for an Italian American born man. Mother Cabrini holds the honor of a street in NY named after an Italian woman who became American.

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