Fattah: Rename 30th Street Station to honor Gray

Ruth Hemphill called the 30th Street Station name "part of Philadelphia history, so I'd really prefer it stay the same."
Ruth Hemphill called the 30th Street Station name "part of Philadelphia history, so I'd really prefer it stay the same."
Posted: June 14, 2014

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah wants to rename 30th Street Station in honor of the late Bill Gray, his predecessor in Pennsylvania's Second District.

Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, introduced legislation Wednesday to name the station "William H. Gray III 30th Street Station." Every Democratic and Republican House member from Pennsylvania has signed on as a cosponsor of the measure.

Renaming an Amtrak station is not unprecedented. In 2011, Amtrak renamed its Wilmington stop the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station. It is still generally known, however, as the Wilmington station.

Fattah said Thursday he expected quick action on his legislation, perhaps by the House's August recess.

"This is going to be moved expeditiously," Fattah said. "Congressman Gray is a member of the House that was held in great honor, and rose to be the third-ranking member of the House."

The legislation would also have to clear the Senate.

In an earlier statement, Fattah said renaming the station would be "a fitting tribute for a man and leader who did so much for the Philadelphia community - not only as a public servant, but as a businessman, friend, father, and minister."

"His dedication to his constituency knew no bounds," Fattah added, "but he was particularly passionate about investing resources in America's infrastructure, and gave undue time and commitment to making 30th Street Station one of the finest train facilities in this country."

Gray, who served from 1978 to 1991 and died last year, was the first African American to become majority whip, the third-ranking position in the House, and the first to chair the Budget Committee.

At the station, reaction to the proposal was mixed.

"It's not a bad name, but people will still call it 30th Street," said Todd Streets, 57, who said he commutes daily through the station. "People don't like change very much."

Ruth Hemphill, 87, a 30th Street patron since her teens, did not like the idea.

"It's part of Philadelphia history, so I'd really prefer it stay the same," said Hemphill. But she said she did not expect a huge outcry from the public.

"I'm sure they wouldn't care," she said.

Sherald Morrison, who has worked at the station's Auntie Anne's pretzel stand for six years, said she welcomed the idea of a name change, though she said she was unfamiliar with Gray.

"It's not a bad thing," Morrison said. "But a lot of people will still call it 30th."

Amtrak workers at the station would not comment on the possibility of renaming their workplace for the politician, pastor, and head of the United Negro College Fund.

Gray served six terms in the House before stepping down in 1991 amid a rumored federal investigation into alleged financial proprieties. No charges were filed.

In 2005, the Pew Charitable Trusts urged Amtrak to rename the station "Ben Franklin Station" in time for the founding father's 300th birthday in January 2006.

Amtrak rejected the request, however, after travelers voiced worries that "Ben Station" sounded too similar to "Penn Station," the name of Amtrak stops in New York and Newark, N.J.


LO' Neal@phillynews.com215-854-2619 215-854-2619 @LydsONeal

Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.

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