Colonialism Revisited on Greenwich Avenue
The push to "co-name" a small portion of Greenwich Avenue "Little Britain" has kicked up an awful row. The controversy (pronounced con-TRAH-ver-see) started with when Virgin Atlantic and Tea & Sympathy launched a campaign and a web site to get a stretch of Greenwich Avenue near W. 12th St. co-named Little Britain because there are a handful of British-themed stores and restaurants near there.
Last night, according to a New York Sun article, Community Board 2's traffic and transportation committee unanimously voted against co-naming the strip. Supporters of the measure presented the community board with 6,000 signatures from an online petition. Big-name supporters, according to their web site, include Jools Holland, Mike Myers, Tina Brown, Sir Harold Evans, Billy Connolly, and Micha Barton.
But the essence of New York’s “little towns” is not the ambiance of the street. It’s the ethnicity of the people who live and work there. And this part of Bohemian Greenwich Village is hardly British. Even on the block of Greenwich Avenue at the center of the proposed Little Britain are a Belgian café and a burrito restaurant. Opposite are a soy-based health food shop and a store selling Tibetan handicrafts. I challenge you to find such a mix in the heart of Little Italy, Chinatown, Koreatown or Brighton Beach’s “Little Russia by the Sea.”
The full community board votes next Thursday. Quite the sticky wicket!