Centre Street in Hyde and Jackson Squares finally will get honorary street signs dubbing it “Avenida de las Americas,” or “Avenue of the Americas,” six years after the idea was approved by the Boston City Council.
The signs, which do not change the official name of Centre Street, are intended to honor the area’s Latin American cultural heritage. They are similar to the honorary “Avenue of the Arts” designation for Huntington Avenue near the Museum of Fine Arts. Around the same time the signs were proposed, Hyde Square merchants and other advocates began marketing the neighborhood as Boston’s “Latin Quarter.”
“The dedication of Avenida de las Americas celebrates the great cultural richness and diversity of our City and the Jamaica Plain community,” said Mayor Thomas Menino in a press statement, adding that “Avenida de las Americas will be a source of pride for Boston residents and visitors for generations to come.”
The signs will go up tomorrow morning in a ceremony featuring current City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo, as well as his father, Felix D. Arroyo, a former city councilor who originally proposed the idea. They will be installed at various intersections between Canary Square at Centre and S. Huntington Avenue and Jackson Square at Centre and Columbus Avenue.
It is unclear why it has taken six years for the signs to be installed. About a year after they were originally approved, Felix D. Arroyo told the Gazette he was unable to get an answer from the City about it. His son, Felix G. Arroyo, who is now running for mayor, recently pushed the City to get the signs made and installed.
“Boston is made stronger by its diversity, and the dedication of this section of Centre Street as Avenida de las Americas is one way to permanently show our appreciation to the many cultures that have made our city what it is today,” said Felix G. Arroyo in a press statement.
The honorary street naming had a controversial history. Originally, it was linked to an effort to rename Mozart Park at Centre and Mozart streets as “Parque de las Americas” and to erect a statue to Latin American revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar somewhere in Boston–ideas that drew some negative community comments. When Felix D. Arroyo finally got the signs approved, neither of those ideas was part of the proposal. Also, the signs originally were approved and promoted as a half-English, half-Spanish mishmash, “Avenue las Americas.” The signs going up now will be fully Spanish.
Originally, the elder Arroyo also intended the City-provided signs to be accompanied by flags representing various Latin American countries, to be paid for by a nonprofit organization. It appears that flags are not part of the current plan.
The installation ceremony will be held June 22, 11 a.m., at Mozart Park. Both Arroyos will be on hand, along with Daphne Griffin, the City’s chief of human services; Tony Barros, an assistant to the mayor and longtime Hyde Square activist; City Latino liaison Hilani Morales; and Jullieanne Doherty, the Jamaica Plain coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.