BROOKLYN, N.Y. - On Mermaid Avenue between West 35th and West 36th Streets, a sign marks where folk music legend Woody Guthrie once lived. His building no longer exists but his connection to this neighborhood will endure now that the city is naming the block Woody Guthrie Way.
"I think it’s really important that we pay homage and respect and tribute to an American musical legend," said City Councilman Mark Treyger.
Guthrie lived in Coney Island when he recorded the American classic, "This Land Is Your Land." He drew inspiration from the neighborhood for some of his other songs, notably "Mermaid Avenue”.
"Mermaid Avenue that’s the street where the lox and the bagels meet. Where the hot dog meets the mustard”, said Charles Denson with the Coney Island History Project who recites the lyrics to what he calls his favorite Guthrie tune.
"There’s a real strong connection with Woody Guthrie and Coney Island. He loved this place. This is where he did some of his best of work," Denson said.
Guthrie, who was originally from Oklahoma, lived in Coney Island from 1943 to 1952. His wife Marjorie came from Sea Gate and he spent time with his children on the beach.
"He’s also buried here because his ashes were spread here after he died in 1967 right off the rocks at W. 37th Street," Denson said.
Denson included a photo of Guthrie’s Coney Island home in his book Coney Island Lost and Found. And inducted the artist into the Coney Island History Project’s Hall of Fame in 2008 with the marker on Mermaid Avenue. Legislation authorizing Woody Guthrie Way passed the City Council late last month and is expeced to be signed by the mayor.
"Mermaid is where the folks live and shop every day. And Woody was a part of that fabric," Treyger said.
"Now with the street naming happening it’s really a great celebration of his life and his work," Denson added.
A street renaming ceremony is being planned for the summer.