206 west 103rd
The block where Norman Rockwell was born. The brownstone where his family lived appears to have been torn down.

The City Council voted last week to officially name the corner of West 103 Street and Amsterdam Avenue “Norman Rockwell Place” after the famous painter. We first wrote about this last year as the community board was getting ready to vote on it. Rockwell, known for his evocative paintings of Americana, was born (in 1894) and lived the first two years of his life in a brownstone at 206 West 103rd street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

The impetus to rename the corner came from a group of students at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, a school around the corner from Rockwell’s home that serves students who “have been pushed out of, or become disenchanted with their previous schools.” The students showed up to the city council meeting to watch the bill pass. Councilman Mark Levine, who helped shepherd the bill through, sent the following account:

“The idea originated from a class project by a group of students from Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, an alternative school located around the corner from where Rockwell was born on February 3, 1894. After researching the life of the artist and visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the students began creating materials as part of a committee they formed called “Norman Rockwell Place,” which they hope to rename the corner. On Election Day, November 4, 2014, they canvassed voters at their school, a polling location, and picked up 300 signatures of support for the idea.

This past spring several of the students, lead by teacher René Mills, returned to Stockbridge to learn more about the artist, his social justice works, and continue their collaboration with Norman Rockwell Museum. The Museum’s Curator of Education, Tom Daly has been lending his support to the teens’ effort, both in Massachusetts and New York City, which has become a useful civics lesson for the students.”

Bravo to artists and students!

HISTORY, NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. maryjane says:

      well at least this will put to rest all the complaints that the city council didn’t deserve their 32% raise

    2. Jacqueline Pitts says:

      This sounds wonderful, and what an achievement for these students! I have a friend here in NYC who is related to Norman Rockwell, and I am going to pass this information along to her. I think she will be very happy!

    3. john says:

      Are these same students involved with the Amsterdam Avenue name change to ” Lance Armstrong freeway”?

    4. Lrahip says:

      A wonderful civic lesson. Hooray to the wonderful teacher, who I am sure put in all kinds of extra time, to the students who took the project from beginning to end and to Council Member mark Levine for taking the project seriously and seeing it through to passage.

    5. Steen says:

      Great job to all the students at the teacher, Rene Mills! It is a lot of work to push something like this through. Congrats!

    6. Kenneth says:

      Placing an historical plaque on the building’s facade perhaps makes sense, if the owner were in agreement. (Re)naming a corner does not.

    7. Scott says:

      I’m surprised Melissa Mark-Viverito allowed this to happen. I’d more expect a former FALN bomb technician to get a namesake street.

    8. Andrew says:

      W. 103 between Broadway and West End is already Humphrey Bogart Place… so just a block later will be about Norman Rockwell. Awesome. Nice to see the area get some well deserved attention!

    9. Jane Jaffe says:

      Also living (born and raised) in NYC is Norman’s great great nephew Jason Claiborne who was featured in a NY Times Article in 2009 which compared his career to Rockwell’s. I’m the great niece – my father was his nephew – also an illustrator who grew up admiring Norman. He would be pleased and proud for sure.

      Jane Jaffe

    10. Anne Marie Whittaker says:

      It would be great if they could have an annual Norman Rockwell Festival featuring his artwork, American vulture, and his social conscience. His daughter is still alive and had her own FB and blog. (What about artists coming in and doing either permanent murals or temporary chalk drawings of his work?

    11. Anne Marie Whittaker says:

      Not ‘vulture’, I thought I had written, ‘culture’!-

    12. Rene Mills says:

      Hello Ms. Pitts
      Your positive response to our project is most welcomed. Please contact your friends that have an interest in Norman Rockwell Place.
      Thank you for your support.

    13. Jacqueline Bennett says:

      Wonderful project! Kudos to the students and the teacher.

    14. Jane Jaffe says:

      When is the ceremony? Does anyone know?