Meet Us On The Avenue

Avenue History

The Avenue of the Americas Association was created in response to a city proposal in 1921 to transfer the Sixth Avenue El from the roadbed to sidewalks. A group of Sixth Avenue property owners united because they anticipated the subways columns would restrict pedestrian traffic. The fight to block the transfer was a success. As a result the owners realized the value of acting as a group and thus formed the Sixth Avenue Association.

The first order of business was a campaign for the demolition of the Sixth Avenue EL. The Association’s vision was to recapture the prestige the Avenue once enjoyed. In 1924, work began to remove the northern section of the El from 53rd to 59th Streets. As tracks were being torn down, plans were being developed to replace old buildings with high-rise structures that included hotels, offices and apartments. Construction on Rockefeller Center began in 1930 and the first building was completed in 1932. Fourteen more buildings were completed in 1939 and an additional three by 1963.

In 1934, the Association proposed to Mayor LaGuardia “to build the Sixth subway now and put people to work.” The new subway opened in 1940 with Mayor LaGuardia and John D. Rockefeller Jr. at the controls of the first train.

With these major achievements, the Association then turned its attention toward further enhancements for the Avenue’s businesses, workers and visitors. These accomplishments include:

  • Upgraded zoning
  • Redesign and rehabilitation of Bryant Park
  • Substitution of buses for trolley cars
  • Improved lighting for pedestrian and vehicular traffic
  • Renamed Sixth Avenue “Avenue of the Americas” to better reflect the grandeur of the reconstructed Avenue


The Avenue of the Americas Association continues to address business operations and quality of life issues such as:

  • Working with city officials on the major reconstruction of the Avenue
  • Initiating widening the Avenue’s sidewalks by three feet to accommodate increasing pedestrian traffic
  • Contributing $25,000 to the NYC Fire Department for the construction of its fire Safety Learning Center at Rockefeller Center
  • Donating $60,000 to the NYC Police Foundation toward the purchase of 18,000 bullet proof vests
  • Contributing $10,000 for the purchase of computerized tracking equipment installed at both Midtown North and Midtown South Police Precincts
  • Donated $15,000 to Museums located along the Avenue during the city’s current budget cuts