Controversy over anti-Mormon rhetoric nixes street co-naming

The phrases “The W.M. Evarts” and “The U.S. Senate” are engraved above the doorways of these Second Avenue apartment buildings. A resolution to co-name the street corner was rescinded after the 19th century legislator’s history of anti-Mormon rhetoric was uncovered upon further vetting. (Photo by Ryan Songalia)

By Ryan Songalia

Community Board 6 has reversed its decision to approve a street co-naming in honor of a former New York U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General after City Council uncovered anti-Mormon rhetoric in his writings.

After initially approving a co-naming for William Evarts on Second Avenue between East 14th and 15th Streets at a full board meeting last April, the board rescinded the resolution on September 11 when the full board reconvened after the summer recess after the general counsel for City Council had uncovered the parts of Evarts’ history that had not aged well.

The proposal was first brought forward last November by Upper East Side resident Bob Pigott, who used to walk past the apartment buildings located at 231 and 235 Second Avenue on his way to Stuyvesant High School in the mid-1970s.

Above the doorways reads “The W.M. Evarts” and “The U.S. Senate,” and it wasn’t until decades later when Pigott began researching his 2014 book, “New York’s Legal Landmarks: A Guide to Legal Edifices, Institutions, Lore, History, and Curiosities on the City’s Streets,” that he realized who “W.M. Evarts” was.

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