Meet Me on the Corner of Pollock and De Kooning

West Broadway @ Houston, 1970's (photo by Straatis on Flickr)

Did you know that West Broadway could have been named Jackson Pollock Place?  I guess those of you who were already grownups in 1972 might remember that in February of that year, Auguest Heckscher, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administrator, proposed that the stretch of West Broadway between Canal and Houston Streets be renamed “Jackson Pollock Place.”  The proposal was not very popular amongst residents.  According to David L. Shirey of the New York Times, some said it would commercialize SoHo, some felt that Pollock did not represent the current aesthetic of SoHo and would therefore misrepresent the neighborhood, and others thought that some of the artists living in SoHo at the time still felt they were in competition with Pollock and would therefore not want to see his name on every piece of mail they received.  If the proposal had been approved, it would have been the first time a street was named after a modern American painter in New York City.  West Broadway was previously called Fifth Avenue South and before that it was Lorenz Street, after a general in George Washington’s army.  The portion of West Broadway that is north of Houston was renamed La Guardia Place, after former New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, in 1967.

A few years later, in 1976, artist Gary Reister planned to paint a mural depicting twelve pioneer abstract expressionist painters, including Jackson Pollock, at 393 West Broadway.  This plan also came up against strong opposition from the SoHo community.  Does anyone know if the mural was ever painted?  I don’t remember it.

P.S. Does anyone know the name of the artist who did the mural in the photo above?

P.P.S. Here’s a photo of the hardware store mentioned by SoHo Man his comment, with the Jason Crum mural visible in color in the background (source unknown):

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11 Responses to “Meet Me on the Corner of Pollock and De Kooning”

  1. mark gabor Says:

    “Does anyone know if the mural [in the photo] was ever painted? I don’t remember it.”

    It might have been Charles (Chuck) Hinman. This is only a guess. Hinman (whose prints we showed at FlatsFixed Gallery) did work more or less in this style. And I know he had a large mural on or around Bowery, where he had a huge studio converted from an abandoned bank a few blocks north of Canal.

  2. Suzanne Stratton-Pruitt Says:

    I believe that the wall at West Broadway and Houston, one of the projects sponsored by City Walls, Inc., was by Jason Crum. It was featured on a beautiful poster advertising SAS airline (I think) with a view straight down West Broadway and the Trade Center towers in the distance. The towers and the painting no longer exist. Thanks to Landmarks Preservation, most of the buildings on the east side of West Broadway are still there.

  3. SoHo Man Says:

    This picture was taken in front of the hardware store! : )

  4. Alex in NYC Says:

    If you haven’t already, check out the photo at the top of this post:

    http://vassifer.blogs.com/alexinnyc/2011/02/the-way-things-used-to-look.html

  5. Yukie Says:

    Cool!

  6. Before SoHo was SoHo (Part III): The Etymology of Street Names « The SoHo Memory Project Says:

    […] In 1972, Auguest Heckscher, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administrator, proposed that the stretch of West Broadway between Canal and Houston Streets be renamed “Jackson Pollock Place”  The proposal was not very popular amongst residents (read my post on the controversy surrounding this proposal here). […]

  7. Guest Post Series: M. Lynch « The SoHo Memory Project Says:

    […] written posts about the possible renaming of West Broadway to Jackson Pollock Place (see the post here), about an early gallery on West Broadway that was perhaps a bit before its time (see the post […]

  8. Sean Says:

    This month, a fellow who had worked for Nam June Paik, informed me that there is a movement afoot, particularly among the Korean-American community, to co-name (not re-name) Mercer Street between Spring and Prince as Nam June Paik Place, since he lived there for a while in his later years. (He also lived on Greene near Houston.)

    Incidentally, West Broadway was called “Laurens Street”, after a Revolutionary War general. I have never seen it spelled “Lorenz” before.

  9. Aristides Pappidas Says:

    Pollock never did his art in Soho. For consideration I can think of several artists who did (even though they worked other places prior, as younger people) But the following four lived in Soho when their main energy and focus coalesced: Jack Beal, Chuck Close, Janet Fish (same building on Prince St.!). First amongst equals in my opinion would be Chris Wilmarth. (Yes, I know,there were many others who could and should be contenders.)

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