Talk about an identity crisis.
It’s officially called the Queensboro Bridge. Most of us call it the 59th Street bridge. But soon we may be calling it — wait for it — Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
Before celebrating the 86th birthday of the city’s former mayor yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed renaming the Queensboro Bridge in honor of Koch, who served from 1978-1989 and is widely credited with bringing the city out of the dark days of the ’70s.
“He picked exactly the right structure,” Koch said.
But Koch didn’t exactly sing the praises of the two-level crossing, built in 1909.
“The bridge is not a beautiful bridge. It doesn’t sing like the George Washington Bridge or the Verrazano,” said Koch, adding that he takes the bridge when en route to the Hamptons.
There is no cost estimate yet for buying new signs, but in 2008 it cost $4 million to change the Triborough Bridge the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.
This time, the mayor’s office said it will seek private donations.
The City Council must approve the change before New Yorkers can say, “I need to get to the Koch.”
“Over 40 years ago, the Queensboro Bridge had Simon and Garfunkel feelin’ groovy and today there is no one in our city groovier than Ed Koch,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, referring to the 1966 song.
Engineer Sam Schwartz, the city’s former traffic commissioner, said renaming a bridge after Koch is a fitting tribute because he created the city’s Bureau of Bridges.
“It’s Ed Koch who saved our bridges,” Schwartz said.
But Bob Singleton, author of “Images of America: The Queensboro Bridge,” said slapping a person’s name on a historic structure can erode its unique identity.
“To glibly rename things is very sad,” Singleton said.
Jim O’Sullivan, 44, of Queens, likes the former mayor, but wonders if the new name will be embraced.
“The Triborough Bridge is still the Triborough Bridge,” he said.
(With Sheila Anne Feeney)