This past weekend saw the co-naming of two neighborhood streets after three gone but not forgotten area residents. The corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues — now also known as “Nathan and Ida Handwerker Way” — and the corner of 95th Street and 5th Avenue — now also known as “Salvatore (Sal) D’Amato Place” — had separate co-naming ceremonies.
In Bay Ridge, on Salvatore (Sal) D’Amato Place, the new sign bearing the name of Brooklyn born Sal D’Amato is located adjacent to the business D’Amato started in the community, Harbor View Car Service. While Sal grew up in Borough Park, he had “Sicily running in his veins” according to a heartfelt speech Councilman Vincent J. Gentile gave at the event on Saturday. According to his speech, D’Amato, who was born in 1931 and grew up in Borough Park, was a U.S. Army veteran, served in the Korean War and started a van shuttle service called “Bay Ridge On the Move” that provided free transportation for the elderly from senior centers. He passed away in 2014, at the age of 83.
Meanwhile, also on Saturday but farther south, in Coney Island, Nathan’s Famous founders Nathan and Ida Handwerker were honored at a ceremony annointing the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues — the cross streets of the original Nathan’s Famous — “Nathan and Ida Handwerker Way” in their honor. The couple, both Polish immigrants, met at a food stand where Ida worked. At first, Ida became Nathan’s employee, and then, later, his wife and the mother of their three children. Ida is credited with developing the spice formula Nathan’s dogs are famous for.
Over the course of the next few weeks, multiple other Coney Island streets will be co-named for past celebrity residents. This includes Pastor Debbe Santiago, a longtime advocate for the homeless living under the boardwalk. In her honor, the corner of Mermaid Avenue and West 16th Street will be co-named “Pastor Debbe Santiago Way” on October 13th at 11 a.m.
As well, Captain Michael Edward Berdy, a West Point graduate who grew up in Sea Gate, served in Vietnam, and was killed in action, in a helicopter crash, on the eve of his 24th birthday in 1967, will be honored on October 7th at 11 a.m. with the co-naming of “Michael E. Berdy Way on West Avenue, between Ocean Parkway and West 5th Street.