A couple of months ago, Storm Ritter, an artist and small business owner, along with a local woman who wishes to remain anonymous, came up with the idea to memorialize Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jimi Hendrix. Ritter ordered a green-and-white street sign online that says, “Hendrix Way,” and posted it above her shop / studio space at 14 W. Eighth St. She then created a petition, which can be found at jimihendrixway.com and currently has more than 1,000 signatures.
Ritter, a young New York University alumna, has had her shop — featuring art and vintage fashion — for about a year and a half, and lives nearby. She has always loved Greenwich Village, and wanted to reintroduce residents and tourists to the area’s rich creative history. Hendrix, she said, is the perfect figure for doing that.
“He represents the creation of music on this street,” Ritter said. “There are so many landmarks that people would freak out over if they knew that they were there. Electric Lady Studios is one of them.”
Lee Foster, general manager of Electric Lady Studios, endorses the street co-naming effort.
“I hope it happens,” he said. “I’m a huge supporter of it and it’s a well-deserved honor for Hendrix.”
Richard Geist, owner of Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters, at 37 W. Eighth St., backs the petition. He said Hendrix is a great representative of the kind of artists that lived and grew in the Village.
“It starts with Jimi because the city doesn’t recognize him,” Geist said. “He was huge! He made rock and roll. Before, he was doing jazz — he was in a support band for jazz. He saw everyone wearing suits at the Apollo Theater; he wasn’t accepted up there. He was wearing bellbottoms and headbands. So, he came Downtown, as many rejects, dysfunctionals, oddballs come to the Village. It’s just the collection of misfits from all over the world; just an amazing melting pot of togetherness.”
The online petition is full of passionate endorsements of both Hendrix and the co-naming effort.
Combating gentrification isn’t Ritter’s end goal, she said, but rather creating a community of small business owners working together to attract more shoppers to the area.
So far, about 1,025 people have signed the petition worldwide. Ritter said that she is trying for 2,000 signatures.
“We are going to keep pushing and see if we can submit it to the community board,” Ritter said. “It is a bit of a challenge. Musicians are not the most likely to be co-named on streets.”
She was referring to Community Board 2. If C.B. 2 approves the co-naming, it would be expected that City Councilmember Corey Johnson — who appoints many of the board members — would follow suit. Ultimately, honorary street signs must be approved by the full City Council.
Ritter said she won’t stop trying to get the street co-named.
“I’m a firm believer in you just have to keep trying,” she said. “There’s no harm in trying. There’s always going to be a rule. There’s always The Man. But in order for there to be change, you have to keep breaking the rules and push toward something to create something better.
“I think it will happen,” she said. “If it doesn’t happen, we damn made a splash.”
Read the full article.