Elizabeth Rowin got the idea from a comedian, who joked that one way to anger President Trump would be to rename the street in front of his signature property after his Oval Office predecessor.
“We request the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets be renamed ‘President Barack H. Obama Avenue,’ ” read her request, addressed to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and the City Council. “Any addresses on that stretch of Fifth Avenue should be changed accordingly.”
That stretch includes Trump Tower, which would make President Trump’s address there 725 President Barack H. Obama Ave.
“I honestly started it as a joke,” Rowin told Newsweek.
But, as of early Thursday morning, more than 250,000 people had signed on.
Rowin told Newsweek that several New York City Council members responded when she wrote them and that they assured her they would look into the petition, which calls on the city to follow the example California set by renaming part of the 134 Freeway after Obama, who attended Occidental College near the stretch of highway.
Rowin’s justification for echoing the move in New York was to honor Obama’s “many accomplishments.” According to her petition, they include “saving our nation from the Great Recession; serving two completely scandal-free terms in office; and taking out Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind September 11th, which killed over 3,000 New Yorkers.”
There is one challenge: In New York City, the guidelines for renaming a street in Manhattan require the honoree be dead for at least two years, and the former president is very much alive. But the rules allow exceptions and give the community board in Manhattan the discretion to disregard those guidelines in exceptional circumstances.
“I am sure the conditions can be changed. There are two streets in L.A. named after former president Obama,” Rowin told Newsweek. “These laws are arbitrary and can be worked around.”
Keith Powers (D), the city councilman who represents the district encompassing Trump Tower, said in a statement: “I recognize and understand the great deal of support behind the petition to rename 5th Avenue in honor of President Obama. President Obama embodies the best of our political system and leaves a remarkable legacy. The classiest President of our time deserves better than being honored next to the home of Donald Trump. He has and will always deserve more than that.”