By Tom Wrobleski Staten Island Advance
Nearly half of the honorific street namings in the borough over the last 15 years have been done in memory of Island residents who perished in the September 11, 2001 attack, according to a new database.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center left its mark on Staten Island in more ways than one.
The number of 9/11 street namings shows how deeply the attack scarred the borough.
There were about 405 street honorific street namings done in the borough since 1998, according to a newly created database found on the “NYC Honorific Streets” website.
Of those street namings, about 185, or 45 percent, were in honor of firefighters, police officers, office workers and other Islanders who perished in the attack, including those who later died of 9/11-related illnesses.
It also includes the name of the Islander who was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
All told, 274 present or former Islanders were killed in the 1993 and 2001 attacks.
“9/11 changed the world, and changed a lot of Staten Island,” said Frank Siller, chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Siller’s brother, Stephen, a firefighter, perished on 9/11.
“A tremendous price was paid on Staten Island,” Siller said. “To have streets here named after those we lost is profound.”
He said that high number of street namings in honor of 9/11 victims here “speaks volumes about how we pay tribute to the first responders who died, as well as those who were just going to work that day, living the American dream, and lost their lives.”
Siller said, “It’s a beautiful way to pay tribute and say we will never forget.”
The website complied only street namings in the five boroughs done since 1998 because those records are available online.
In addition to 9/11, the street namings are a roll call of borough history writ both large and small, honoring figures who cast a big shadow across the borough, as well as those who were venerated in certain communities or neighborhoods.
Scrolling through the street names, Island war heroes, first responders, lawmakers, educators and religious and business leaders can be found alongside lesser-known volunteers, school coaches, Scout leaders, crossing guards, accident victims and Islanders who died young.
The City Council designates honorific street namings based on suggestions from the community.
GOP Borough President James Oddo said that while street namings have been celebratory occasions, the Island could run the risk of overdoing it.
“It can get to the point where Mary Jones made a good meatball and people want to honor her,” he said. “There’s a fine line between honoring people who went above and beyond, and those who were just good folks.”
He said, “We’ve done so many we’re at the point where you want to try to create a more precise criteria. That’s difficult.”
The Council does have more guidelines when it comes to honorific street namings, and some requests are denied.
While serving in the Council, Oddo proposed removing the Council from the equation and allowing the local community boards to do street namings.