NYC Honorary Street Names


Jose “Chema” Soto Way (Bronx)
Present name:None
Location:At the intersection of East 157th Street and Morris Avenue
Honoree: Jose Chema Soto (1945-2015) founded the oldest and largest “casita.” or little house, in a community garden in the Bronx called Rincon Criollo aka La Casita de Chema. In 1975, he cleaned up an abandoned lot on Brook Avenue and 158th Street, starting a movement that gave Melrose a large concentration of community gardens and casitas. Rincon Criollo has held numerous community gatherings. Early on it became a place for musicians to perform as well learn instrument making from Chema and others. In 1987, the Casita de Chema joined the city’s Green Thumb Community Garden Program. Chema helped create a guidebook with step by step instructions on how to build a casita. In 1990, the Bronx Council of the Arts held an event where Chema and others, built replicas of casitas that were exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. (Salamanca, Jr.)
William Soto Way (Manhattan)
Present name:None
Location:At the southeast corner of East 112th Street and Lexington Avenue
Honoree: William Soto was a community leader in East Harlem. During the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960’s, he was integral in helping to build connections between African-American and Latino political leaders. He sat on the board of directors for the organization, Massive Economic Neighborhood Development (MEND) and helped to found several other organizations, including El Grito del Barrio, Aguilar Senior Citizens, and Concerned Citizens of East Harlem. He devoted himself to helping his community through his passion for baseball as well, hosting a sports radio program, “Amateur Sports”, a newsletter and had a baseball team sponsored by Eastern Airlines and Goya Foods. He advocated for local teams, many of which were made up of young Puerto Ricans, and fought to ensure that improvements were made to local fields. (Mark-Viverito)

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