The city began the process of reinstalling medallions Monday on the Avenue of the Americas, each representing a nation or territory in the Western Hemisphere.
First installed in 1959, only 18 of the nearly 300 medallions remained after years of neglect and disrepair. On Monday, the Department of Transportation installed nine new medallions representing Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Uruguay.
The medallions were attached by DOT crews to lampposts along Sixth Avenue from West 42nd to West 59th Street. Ultimately, the city plans to restore 45 medallions in the coming months.
“New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants and their global diversity is reflected throughout our five boroughs,” Manuel Castro, the commissioner of the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a statement. “As New Yorkers travel through this avenue and see these medallions, they will be reminded that they are welcomed here no matter where they were born.”
Today we unveiled the first nine medallions on Manhattan’s Ave of the Americas -- with dozens more to be completed in the coming months. The medallions installed today were Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia & Uruguay. pic.twitter.com/JSbY6yQBpx— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) January 30, 2023
Former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia changed the name of Sixth Avenue to Avenue of the Americas after World War II in 1945. Years later, Mayor Robert Wagner and his administration then installed nearly 300 medallions along the avenue to celebrate postwar unity.
However, they were largely ignored and “fell into disrepair with rust and corrosion, with many removed for safety concerns,” according to the DOT.
The new circular signs are three feet in diameter and made out of aluminum. They will be attached with “sturdier brackets, a design intended to be more durable and easier to maintain, while also flexible enough to allow adjustments to be made for major events like the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” the DOT said.
As new medallions are created, crews will remove the old medallions along the road.