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Brooklyn, NY - Heroism, Not Hatred, To Be Honored In Brighton Beach Street Renaming

Published on: March 26, 2018 09:00 PM
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Councilman Chaim Deutsch at the street signCouncilman Chaim Deutsch at the street sign

Brooklyn, NY - A years-long battle to give a new identity to a Brooklyn street named for a virulently anti-Semitic 19th century railroad and banking magnate is finally coming to an end, with an official ceremony to be held next month marking the change.

Corbin Place is a half mile long stretch in Brighton Beach named for Austin Corbin, president of the Long Island Railroad and owner of Manhattan Beach, both of which were acquired and operated through questionable means, according to the New England Historical Society (http://bit.ly/2pDi1Ig). 

One of the founding members of the American Society for the Suppression of Jews which aimed to exterminate Jews, Corbin barred Jews from his majestic Manhattan Beach Hotel, unapologetically telling the New York Herald “we do not like Jews as a class.”

The saga of Corbin Place began to unfold in January, 2007 when Daily News columnist Denis Hamill wrote a column suggesting that the street be renamed in honor of a more deserving individual after reading a book detailing the history of Brooklyn street names. 

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The Daily News (https://nydn.us/2pGEcgx) reported that that column created a maelstrom of comments at the next Community Board 15 meeting, prompting a public hearing where one participant said that the Corbin name alone was equivalent to a swastika, while another suggested leaving the name and erecting a statue of the robber baron so that area residents, a large percentage of whom were Jewish, could pelt Corbin with tomatoes.

Others, including some Jewish residents, argued to keep the Corbin name, noting that having a large Jewish population living on Corbin Place was the best revenge against anti-Semitism, according to The New York Times (https://nyti.ms/2pJcQX9).

A more practical solution raised at that meeting suggested keeping the Corbin Place name, but officially renaming the street in honor of Revolutionary War heroine, Martha Cochran Corbin, the first woman to receive a military pension.

A measure instituting the change was expected to be approved by the city council, but with many residents wanting to keep the status quo in order to avoid confusion and the tedious details of a name change, it never came to be.

The Corbin debate continued quietly for years, catching notice this summer of two local councilmen, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, whose collective districts include Seagate, Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach.  The two collaborated on a revival of the plan to rename the street in honor of Margaret Corbin, this time winning the necessary approvals.

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, Deutsch said that he viewed the symbolic name change as a public rejection of the hatred that Austin Corbin championed so proudly.

“This was a man who does not deserve the honor of having a street named after him in a city where diversity is celebrated,” said Deutsch in an email to VIN News.

The measure has already passed the City Council and a single sign bearing the words “Margaret Corbin Pl” will be hung next to one of the existing street signs this week.  Plans for an official ceremony in April are currently underway.

“The residents of Corbin Place can rest assured that they are no longer living on a street that pays tribute to an anti-Semitic hatemonger,” said Deutsch.

The four block long Corbin Place, which runs from Cass Place due south to the ocean, features a mix of two story homes, palatial estates and apartment buildings and has a decidedly Jewish flavor.

It is home to Chabad Lubavitch of Manhattan Beach and one of several subsidized housing developments maintained by the Jewish Association of Services for the Aged and is located just steps from an Orthodox synagogue, the Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn, Holocaust Memorial Park and the Babi Yar Triangle.



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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 27, 2018 at 12:16 AM Hiymishclown Says:

Corbin zuhl zahn a korban far klal yisroel.

2

 Mar 27, 2018 at 05:21 AM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

Chaim do something substantive

3

 Mar 27, 2018 at 07:37 AM Goodman Says:

Kudos to Mr Deutsch

4

 Mar 27, 2018 at 08:17 AM Educated Archy Says:

People have to much time on their hands.

Nazisphobia aka "ncd"

5

 Mar 27, 2018 at 01:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Streets should be named numbers.

6

 Mar 27, 2018 at 01:39 PM Hoshomer Says:

Reply to #4  
Educated Archy Says:

People have to much time on their hands.

Nazisphobia aka "ncd"

Kind of ironic for an internet commenter to say that.

7

 Mar 27, 2018 at 05:12 PM puppydogs Says:

Reply to #6  
Hoshomer Says:

Kind of ironic for an internet commenter to say that.

Kind of ironic for an internet commenter to say that.

8

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