Updated 06/04/2010 10:50 PM
Bronxdale Houses Renamed In Honor Of Sotomayor
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The Bronxdale Houses have been officially renamed in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who grew up in the housing complex.
Sotomayor was on hand Friday for the renaming ceremony.
Calling it an unbelievable day, an emotional Sotomayor spoke about her memories and childhood growing up in the neighborhood. She lived in the development from 1957 to 1969.
"I'm deeply humbled and touched that these houses will now bear my name," Sotomayor said. "I won't be able to drive by them without my heart stopping a little bit. I'm so grateful for all that you have given me today, but I'm so grateful for who I became because I lived here."
Sotomayor said it is clear that Bronxdale is not defined by its buildings but by its people.
"It was here in these buildings and in the community I just described that I came into awareness, that I came into myself...," said Sotomayor. "Each time I drive south on Bruckner Boulevard, I see my projects."
Following the naming ceremony, the country's first Latino Supreme Court justice took to the stage to dance with some students from her Bronx alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School, where she was the valedictorian in 1972.
The New York City Housing Authority had been busy preparing for the big day – repainting walls, sweeping sidewalks and mowing lawns.
NYCHA said the idea for the renaming actually came from Bronxdale residents, housing advocates and Bronx elected officials. They said a survey circulated around the development found that 75 percent were in favor of the name change.
It is the first time that a New York City Housing Authority development is being named in honor of a living, former resident.
"We have a new J-Lo here, the 'Justice of Law and Order,'" said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Sotomayor also delivered the commencement address at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven, where her mother, Celina Sotomayor, attended nursing school and graduated in 1973.
The justice's mother and brother were on hand for the day's ceremonies.