New York Queens Street Co-Named ‘Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way’ in Honor of Nepali Community

New York’s Queens street has been co-named “Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way” in honor of the Nepali community. The street, known as 75 Street, stretching from Broadway to Woodside, underwent the co-naming after the New York City Council passed a bill for this purpose. A special ceremony was held on Monday at the intersection of 75th Street and 41st Avenue to unveil the street sign for Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way. Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, representing District 25 in the New York City Council, led the event, which saw a significant turnout from the Nepalese community, including elected officials from New York.

The program took place on the 70th anniversary of the first successful summit of Mount Everest in 1953, achieved by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand. Tenzing, born in 1914, conquered the mountain at the age of 39. Although his exact date of birth is unknown, he chose to celebrate his birthday on May 29, 1953, after the successful climb.

The program commenced with the national anthems of Nepal and the United States, followed by a minute of silence to remember those who lost their lives while climbing the mountain. Councilmember Shekar Krishnan expressed his appreciation for the Nepali community in New York, describing the co-naming of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way as a proud moment. He acknowledged the long struggle for recognition faced by Tenzing Norgay despite his remarkable achievement on Mount Everest alongside Edmund Hillary. Krishnan emphasized that the street naming was a step toward rectifying the lack of recognition and a testament to the vibrancy, strength, and influence of the Nepali community. He also commended the contributions of the Nepali community in enhancing the city of New York.

Former council member Daniel Dromm, representing District 25 at the time, introduced a resolution in the City Council to name the street Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way. Although Daniel Dromm was not present at the event, Shekar Krishnan acknowledged his role in the street naming process.

Photo Courtesy: Councilmember Shekar Krishnan’s Twitter

The event was graced by the presence of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa’s sons, Norbu Tenzing Norgay and Dhamey Tenzing Norgay. Norbu expressed his joy in being part of the occasion, considering the street naming a great honor. He encouraged people to dream big, taking inspiration from his father. He highlighted that the street’s name serves as a reminder that success requires hard work and persistent efforts.

Michael Gianaris, the Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, shared his ancestral connection to the Himalayan region of Greece and expressed his desire to visit Nepal and witness the mountains, which make him feel at home. He expressed pride in representing the Nepali community.

Assemblymember Steven Raga, who represents the New York State Assembly, noted that despite being the first elected assembly member from the Filipino community, he actively participates in events and programs of the Nepali community due to its growing and energetic nature. He applauded the Nepali community’s contributions to heritage and history and extended his congratulations on the historic occasion of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way co-naming.

Photo Courtesy: Assemblymember Steven Raga’s Twitter

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz described the street naming as a beautiful way to honor a person of immense pride for the Nepali community and their history. She emphasized that it would help future generations understand the significance of their culture and history. Cruz lauded the Nepali community for their role in improving the neighborhood.

Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas regarded the street naming as a significant achievement for the Nepali community, showcasing their resilience and strength. Councilmember Julie Won shared her experience of visiting Nepal in 2016, where she was captivated by Nepal’s natural beauty, culture, and food. She pledged to continue supporting the preservation of Nepali language, heritage, and culture in New York.

Photo Courtesy: Jessica González-Rojas’s Twitter

During the event, Acting Consul General Bishnu Prasad Gautam expressed gratitude on behalf of the Consulate General and the Government of Nepal to the New York City Council and Council Member Shekar Krishnan for leading the street naming process. He emphasized that the co-naming of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way brought immense pride to both the Nepali community in America and Nepal. Gautam acknowledged the delayed recognition Tenzing Norgay faced compared to his climbing partner Edmund Hillary and thanked the financial capital of the world, the diverse city, and the great city of the USA for finally honoring him.

Yangkila Sherpa, an assemblymember of Bagmati Province in Nepal, expressed her appreciation to New York City for organizing the program in honor of the legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Pasang Sherpa, President of the US Nepal Climbers Association, Temba Sherpa, President of the United Sherpa Association (USA), Inc., and Pasang Dorje Sherpa, President of the Sherpa Association in America, expressed their gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way co-naming program.

Pasang Nima Sherpa, President of the US Nepal Climbers Association, and Mingmar Lama, Senior Vice President and Program Coordinator, issued a statement thanking all attendees for making the historic event a resounding success. They emphasized that the co-naming of a street in New York City after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa filled Nepalis with a sense of pride.

Curtis S. Chin, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank and the first Asia Fellow of the Milken Institute, finds inspiration in front of the iconic Tenzing Norgay Shepa Way

Efforts to name 75 Street as Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way have been ongoing for a long time. In May 2017, Urgen Sherpa, then the leader of Sherpa Kidug, proposed the idea of renaming 75 Street to reflect Nepal. The proposal was brought to City Council member Daniel Dromm from the 25th District. At that time, various names such as Nepal Street, Sagarmatha Street, Gautam Budha Street, and Lumbini Street were considered. Initially, the plan was to name the entire street from 30th Avenue to Woodside to reflect Nepali identity. However, due to the involvement of two different districts, the process faced challenges. In March 2019, as an interim solution, Costa Constantinides, the City Council member representing the 22nd district, initiated the naming of only one corner of 75 Street and 31 Avenue as Mount Everest Way.

Subsequently, led by Urgen Sherpa, a successful proposal was brought before the City Council in 2021 to name the street Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way. The motion was passed, but the street naming was limited to the two blocks of 75th Street from Broadway to Woodside. Requests were made to place three signs bearing the name Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way on Broadway, 41st Avenue, and Woodside Avenue, although ultimately only one sign on 41st Avenue has been approved. After nearly six years of persistent efforts, 75th Street has been officially co-named Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way, honoring the vibrant Nepali community in New York.

Tenzing Norgay’s early life has been the subject of conflicting accounts. While his autobiography mentions his birth and upbringing in Tengboche, Khumbu, Northeast Nepal, in a 1985 interview with All India Radio, he stated that his parents were from Tibet but he was born in Nepal. Some later accounts, including a book co-authored by his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay, claim that he was born in Tibet. It is also mentioned that he traveled to Nepal as a child to work for a Sherpa family in Khumbu.

Nevertheless, Tenzing Norgay’s formative years were spent amidst the majestic landscapes of Nepal’s Himalayas, herding yaks in the tranquil pastures. At the age of eighteen, he embarked on a journey to Darjeeling, where he worked as a laborer for twenty years. Time magazine recognized Norgay as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.