Photo of Cicely Tyson via Wikimedia; Google Street View of East 101st Street, Map data © Google
A stretch of street in East Harlem was renamed Cicely Tyson Way in honor of the late trailblazing actress. Tyson, who grew up in a fifth-floor railroad flat at 178 East 101st Street, died last January at the age of 96. Throughout her 70-year award-winning career, Tyson defied racial stereotypes and became famous for her depiction of strong Black women in theater and film.
Google Street View of 178 East 101st Street (center), Map data © 2020 Google
The street renaming was approved by the City Council last year. The renaming committee received petition signatures from community members and groups like the El Museo del Barrio, political analyst Donna Brazile, and the New York Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an organization of which Tyson was an honorary member.
Born in 1924, Cicely Tyson was raised in a walk-up building at 178 East 101st Street. Over the course of her legendary acting career, Tyson appeared in groundbreaking works like Roots, The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, Fried Green Tomatoes, and How to Get Away with Murder. She earned three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an NAACP Image Award, to name just a few.
In 1994, four East Harlem buildings were rehabilitated by non-profit housing developer SDFS Development Corporation, one of which was Tyson’s childhood home. The developers renamed the building after her, in honor of Tyson’s lifelong commitment to the Harlem community.
Tyson considered herself to be a “neighborhood ambassador,” according to a press release. She founded the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1968, ate at Sylvia’s, attended events at the Apollo, and frequented jazz clubs like Smalls’ Paradise, as the New York Times reported, especially during her marriage to Miles Davis.