Inquirer Editorial: A wrong turn on street name

Posted: February 26, 2011

A Washington councilman wants to take his city's fight for representation in Congress out on the Keystone State.

Yo, buddy, bad idea.

To draw attention to the cause of statehood for his city, Michael A. Brown wants to rename Pennsylvania Avenue. He suggests the catchy "Give DC Full Democracy & Statehood Way" or maybe just "51st State Way." He's asking Washingtonians for other suggestions in an online poll.

Aside from the slippery slope of renaming streets in the nation's capital to suit the special interests of the day, let's recall some reasons that Pennsylvania was given pride of place, a street linking the White House and the Capitol, when the city grid was designed in the 1800s.

The home of the Continental Congress during the long Revolutionary War?

Pennsylvania.

The site from which independence was declared?

Pennsylvania.

Gathering place for a constitutional convention as the new nation struggled for stability while promoting liberty and equality among its citizens?

Pennsylvania.

There has been much more since those early days of the republic, including moments of both high drama and exceptional valor.

Where did Abraham Lincoln choose to deliver the nation's most memorable address? The final resting place for the heroes of United Flight 93?

We have our regrets. President James Buchanan and Rep. John Murtha come quickly to mind.

And Brown's idea has some merit. It might even make a few bucks for a city heavily subsidized by federal taxpayers - including many in Pennsylvania.

Take that little curved strip of First Street NW in front of the Capitol and lease name changes as various groups come to protest on the National Mall. The Deficit is Too Damn High Boulevard, anyone?

Be creative. Have fun. Just don't mess with Pennsylvania Avenue.

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