NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 588-7746
For Immediate Release: July 28th, 2004

Coalition Asks MTA Not to Sell Naming Rights to NYC Bridges, Subway Stations

A coalition of civic groups, historians and a New York City Council Member sent a letter today to Peter Kalikow, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, asking him not to sell naming rights to New York City bridges, subway stations and tunnels.  The letter follows.

Dear Mr. Kalikow:

According to the New York Times, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has recently sent out a request for proposals to hire a marketing company to explore the sale of naming rights to the subway stations, commuter rail stations, tunnels and bridges in and around New York City.

While the MTAs budget problems are serious, this is the wrong way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York subways.

The names of our civic places reflect our values and our aspirations.  They embody our connection to this great city. Grand Central Terminal, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the Brooklyn Bridge—these are the city as it resides in our collective memory.  So when we talk about names we are talking about our connection to the city that we love.

If we must re-name bridges or subway stations, shouldnt those names convey the poetry and grandeur of New York, and the greatness of individuals who have made a large imprint on our lives?  Is it really a good idea to turn our city into a kind of urban logoland?  What will we convey to our kids—and do to ourselves—if we choose to name these stations not after a Martin Luther King Jr. or Thomas Jefferson, but instead for Philip Morris, Waste Management or Martha Stewart?  Are you really proposing to re-name the Church Ave. station after, say, Citigroup?

There is nothing wrong with asking such corporations to help fix the MTAs budget shortfall.  It would be good for these entities to return to the spirit of true philanthropy, and seek to advance the good of the city.  But we should never let them convert our public spaces into billboards for corporate self-promotion.

Sincerely,

Gerald Benjamin, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, SUNY New Paltz and Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Elizabeth Blackmar, Professor of History, Columbia University; co-author, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park
Edwin G. Burrows, Distinguished Professor of History, Brooklyn College, CUNY; co-author, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize
Savitri Durkee
Ron Evitts, AIA, Principal, Ronald Evitts Architect
Eric Homberger, author, The Historical Atlas of New York City
Henry Labalme, President, Taylor-Labalme Products, LLC
David Levine, Director, Continuing Education & Public Programs, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Margarita Lopez, Member, New York City CouncilCarl Mayer, attorney and author of Shakedown
Carrie McLaren, Editor, Stay Free! magazine
David Ott, MD
Jonathan Rowe, Director, Tomales Bay Institute
Douglas Rushkoff, author, Media Virus and Coercion; Professor, New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program
Gary Ruskin, Executive Director, Commercial Alert
Bill Talen, creator of “Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop ShoppingҔ
Daniel J. Walkowitz, Professor of History and Director, Metropolitan Studies, New York University
Lloyd Zuckerberg

<-----letter ends here---->

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, visit http://www.commercialalert.org.

For background about the sale of naming rights and the commercialization of cities, see Commercial Alert’s “city for sale” web page at: http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/government/city-for-sale.

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NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 588-7746
For Immediate Release: July 28th, 2004

Coalition Asks MTA Not to Sell Naming Rights to NYC Bridges, Subway Stations

A coalition of civic groups, historians and a New York City Council Member sent a letter today to Peter Kalikow, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, asking him not to sell naming rights to New York City bridges, subway stations and tunnels.  The letter follows.

Dear Mr. Kalikow:

According to the New York Times, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has recently sent out a request for proposals to hire a marketing company to explore the sale of naming rights to the subway stations, commuter rail stations, tunnels and bridges in and around New York City.

While the MTAs budget problems are serious, this is the wrong way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York subways.

The names of our civic places reflect our values and our aspirations.  They embody our connection to this great city. Grand Central Terminal, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the Brooklyn Bridge—these are the city as it resides in our collective memory.  So when we talk about names we are talking about our connection to the city that we love.

If we must re-name bridges or subway stations, shouldnt those names convey the poetry and grandeur of New York, and the greatness of individuals who have made a large imprint on our lives?  Is it really a good idea to turn our city into a kind of urban logoland?  What will we convey to our kids—and do to ourselves—if we choose to name these stations not after a Martin Luther King Jr. or Thomas Jefferson, but instead for Philip Morris, Waste Management or Martha Stewart?  Are you really proposing to re-name the Church Ave. station after, say, Citigroup?

There is nothing wrong with asking such corporations to help fix the MTAs budget shortfall.  It would be good for these entities to return to the spirit of true philanthropy, and seek to advance the good of the city.  But we should never let them convert our public spaces into billboards for corporate self-promotion.

Sincerely,

Gerald Benjamin, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, SUNY New Paltz and Distinguished Professor of Political Science
Elizabeth Blackmar, Professor of History, Columbia University; co-author, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park
Edwin G. Burrows, Distinguished Professor of History, Brooklyn College, CUNY; co-author, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898; recipient of the Pulitzer Prize
Savitri Durkee
Ron Evitts, AIA, Principal, Ronald Evitts Architect
Eric Homberger, author, The Historical Atlas of New York City
Henry Labalme, President, Taylor-Labalme Products, LLC
David Levine, Director, Continuing Education & Public Programs, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Margarita Lopez, Member, New York City CouncilCarl Mayer, attorney and author of Shakedown
Carrie McLaren, Editor, Stay Free! magazine
David Ott, MD
Jonathan Rowe, Director, Tomales Bay Institute
Douglas Rushkoff, author, Media Virus and Coercion; Professor, New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program
Gary Ruskin, Executive Director, Commercial Alert
Bill Talen, creator of “Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop ShoppingҔ
Daniel J. Walkowitz, Professor of History and Director, Metropolitan Studies, New York University
Lloyd Zuckerberg

<-----letter ends here---->

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, visit http://www.commercialalert.org.

For background about the sale of naming rights and the commercialization of cities, see Commercial Alert’s “city for sale” web page at: http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/government/city-for-sale.

-30-