México-Tenochtitlan Avenue in New York. México-Tenochtitlan Avenue in New York.

New York City street renamed México-Tenochtitlan Avenue

The name change of a Spanish Harlem street recognizes the strong Latino presence

A street in the New York borough of Manhattan has been renamed Mexico-Tenochtitlan in recognition of the large number of Latino residents.

Mariachi music accompanied Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a ceremony on Monday when they pulled a chord to unveil a freshly minted street sign on the intersection of 116th Street and Second Avenue.

México-Tenochtitlan Avenue is in East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem, an area once known as the Italian Quarter.

In the mid-20th century, the area housed Puerto Ricans and later, increasing numbers of Dominicans. In recent decades, the percentage of Mexicans in East Harlem has also greatly increased, with newcomers taking advantage of the relatively low rents and the area’s proximity to Manhattan’s work opportunities.

Ebrard called the new street name a “recognition of the efforts of the Mexican community.”

Tenochtitlán was the name of the capital of the Mexica empire, and was located where Mexico City now sits.

De Blasio said Mexicans had a central role to play in New York’s future. “It has not been recognized enough [that] … New York is a Mexican city too. It is a growing community, strong and beautiful … The strength of this community will help determine the strength of this city in the future,” he said.

He added that U.S. identity was in a moment of evolution, and that Latinos were set to form the majority. “Americans have to understand that we are changing as a country and that in a few decades this is going to be first and foremost a country of Latinos. That is part of our development and evolution, and it will be led by our Mexican-American community,” he said. 

In New York, renaming any street requires a public vote with a 75% margin in favor. The proposal is then sent to the city for a vote.

In Harlem, one street was renamed Malcolm X Boulevard and in other parts of the city pedestrians can stroll down Bob Marley street and Martin Luther King street thanks to name changes. 

According to municipal data, some 300,000 Mexicans live in New York. The boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens have the largest Mexican population in the city, while in Manhattan, most Mexicans live in East Harlem. 

The ceremony wasn’t Ebrard’s primary motivation for visiting the Big Apple: on Monday he also spoke to the United Nations Security Council about small arms trafficking, which he said was “a threat to international peace and security.”

With reports from Milenio 

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