City officials in Paterson, New Jersey, are giving a new name to a two-block portion of Vreeland Avenue. This part of the street will now be called “Jamaica Way” to honor the extensive contributions made by Jamaican Americans to the city. The measure to change the street’s name was approved on June 10, 2021 and refers to the blocks from 17th Avenue to 19th Avenue.
According to the measure, Jamaica Way will act as a symbol of recognition and honor to those individuals who immigrated and followed their dreams to the United States, “gave their lives for this country, paved the road for others, and left a lasting footprint” in the City of Paterson.”
Errol Kerr, a former school board member in Paterson, noted that Jamaicans have been in the city since the 1960s and have “contributed mightily.” Kerr, who is of Jamaican descent, has lobbied the City Council for three years about renaming the street. The street-naming measure was sponsored by Paterson City Council members Alex Mendez and Michael Jackson. The city has a very large Jamaican population. Jackson believes that every community has the right to see that a part of it symbolizes its residents’ presence and contributions.
A previous proposal that would have named part of 10th Avenue “Jamaica Heroes Way” was abandoned.
Paterson is the biggest city in New Jersey, having a population totaling 145,199 according to the 2010 United States Census. It is known as the “Silk City” for its dominance in the silk production industry in the last half of the 19th century. It has had a diverse population since its beginnings, as European immigrants settled there in the 19th century, and immigrants from the Middle East arrived in as early as 1890. Additionally, many African Americans from the southern US migrated there, and more recently, the city has seen a growing number of immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa. It has the second-largest population of Muslims in the US by percentage.
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