Zwicky Avenue

Google Alerts tell me about houses for sale on Zwicky Avenue on Staten Island in NYC. The short red line in the middle of this map:


Just one block, from Hylan Blvd. (which has some of NYC’s most dangerous traffic) to Boundary Ave. Named after some Zwicky, I haven’t found out which one or why.

The streets in the area are mostly named after people or places, some of NYC relevance (Hylan Blvd. “was renamed in 1923 for New York City mayor John F. Hylan, before which it was known as Pennsylvania Avenue” (Wikipedia)), some (like Lincoln Ave.) of much more than local interest, but Zwicky Ave. is surely named after someone of neighborhood interest — unless astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky has some following in east central Staten Island. The larger picture:


Its origins might be murky, but the street does have a song:

We gonna rock down to   Zwicky Avenue
And then we’ll take it higher
Oh, we gonna rock down to   Zwicky Avenue
And then we’ll take it higher

To get the tune, you need to know Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”, which you can listen to here. From Wikipedia:


“Electric Avenue” is a song written, recorded and produced by Eddy Grant, who released it from his 1982 album Killer on the Rampage. In the United States, with the help of the MTV video he shot for it, it was one of 1983’s biggest hits of the year. The song’s title refers to an area historically known as Electric Avenue; this is a reference to the first place electricity lit the streets in the area of Brixton, South of London. This is an area known in the modern times for its high population of Caribbean immigrants and high unemployment. As the 1980s were beginning, tensions grew in the area until the street violence now known as the 1981 Brixton riot erupted. Grant, horrified and enraged, wrote and composed the song in response; a year afterwards, the song was playing over the airwaves.

Grant is Guyanese British, and decidedly black, not at all likely to be found in the Zwicky Ave. neighborhood, in heavily white working class Staten Island. But I like the song.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: