New York City Council approves bill naming major thoroughfares as ‘Gurdwara Street’ and ‘Punjab Avenue’

To honor members of the Sikh and larger Punjabi community, New York City Council has approved the renaming of certain thoroughfares in Queens to ‘Gurdwara Street’ and ‘Punjab Avenue’. Here members of the Sikh community are seen participating in a Vaisakhi parade held in the nation's capital
To honor members of the Sikh and larger Punjabi community, New York City Council has approved the renaming of certain thoroughfares in Queens to ‘Gurdwara Street’ and ‘Punjab Avenue’. Here members of the Sikh community are seen participating in a Vaisakhi parade held in the nation’s capital

The renaming “is a long overdue recognition for the contributions of the Sikh and Punjabi communities both locally and throughout the City,” says Council Member Adrienne Adams.

December 22, 2019 – To honor members of the Sikh and larger Punjabi community and in recognition of their immense contributions, New York City Council has approved the renaming of roads in the southeast section of Queens County which will give them an undeniable feeling of inclusion and belonging. According to the legislation, 97th Avenue, between Lefferts Boulevard and 117th Street, will be named ‘Gurdwara Street’ and 101st Avenue, between 111th Street and 123rd Street, will be called ‘Punjab Avenue’.

The bill, sponsored by Council Member Adrienne Adams with 25 co-sponsors, was approved by the City Council, Thursday, and now heads to New York City Mayor Bill Blasio’s desk for signature. The Democratic mayor of the most populated city in America is expected to sign the bill into law.

Adams who became the first woman elected to the City Council District 28 in 2017 said in a statement, “Co-naming Gurdwara Street and Punjab Avenue is a long overdue recognition for the contributions of the Sikh and Punjabi communities both locally and throughout the City”.

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Her district encompasses Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park – all neighborhoods in the New York City borough of Queens which boast a sizeable Indian-American population and are home to organizations such as the Sikh Cultural Society, Bethlehem Punjabi Church, Sach Khand Guru Nanak Darbar, Chhaya Community Development Corporation, SEVA Immigrant Community Advocacy Project, Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center, Gurdwara Baba Majha Singh Karamjot Sikh Center and United Sikhs.

Richmond Hill has the largest Sikh population in the city and members of the community have established their presence and clout by opening houses of worship, cultural centers, several retail stores and restaurants, and giving back to the city, county and country.

“We have a beautiful multicultural mosaic not only in my District but the City as a whole and believe that it should be celebrated”, Adams said. “It is important that diverse communities see themselves and their varying cultures represented in the landscape”.

Hailing the co-naming of Gurdwara Street and Punjab Avenue as an “historic accomplishment”, Assembly Member David Weprin said, it “will not only pay tribute to the diversity of our city and state but also provide well-deserved recognition to the contributions of the Sikh American and Punjabi American communities in New York.

Council Member Barry Grodenchic noted, “Sikhs are part of the wonderful diversity that makes Queens a vibrant mix of global influences” and the naming of Gurdwara Street and Punjab Avenue honors “the contributions of this great community that enriches New York City”.

“The beauty of living in New York City is its diversity” said Harpreet Singh Toor, President of South Asians for Global Empowerment. Thanking Adams for sponsoring the legislation, he pointed out these important street co-namings “serve as examples of the inclusive spirit in this City and will make so many people proud”.

Annetta Seecharran, executive director of Chhaya CDC, noted, “The Punjabi and Sikh communities have been a part of Richmond Hill and our city for over half a century. From construction sites and yellow cabs to hospitals and our government, Punjabis and Sikhs help run this city and are part of its fabric. We are excited to see that our community is finally being represented for its contributions”, she said.

“We applaud the city and councilwoman Adrienne Adams for being a champion of South Asian and Indo Carribean communities, and we will continue to work with the Council Member to ensure that all of our communities are uplifted and empowered”, Seecharran added.

“We commend Council Member Adrienne Adams for approving and sponsoring legislation for these new street co-namings in District 28 reflecting due recognition of the Punjabi community and the Gurdwara, and in honor of significant contributions to the community”, said Ashook Ramsaran, founder and president of Indian Diaspora Council (IDC), and former president of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO International).

The New York City Council is set to vote Thursday on renaming 53 other thoroughfares and public places honoring first responders, civil servants and clergy members, among others.

(This post was updated on December 30, 2019.)

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