Preparations have been completed for the co-naming ceremony of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way, which will be held in Queens, New York on Monday, May 29th. Mingmar Lama, program coordinator and senior vice president of the US Nepal Climbers Association, Inc., has informed that all the preparations for the program to co-name 75th Street from Broadway to Woodside in Jackson Heights, New York as ‘Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way’ have been completed.
Mentioning that more than 40 associations in the US have supported the program, Lama has requested everyone to participate. He informed that the 70th International Everest Day will also be celebrated in conjunction with the co-naming of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way. A 15-minute documentary on global warming will also be shown during the program.
Before the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way co-naming ceremony at 75th Street and 41st Avenue, a light vigil will be held at the Sherpa Kyidug monastery in memory of those who lost their lives while mountain climbing, from 9:30 am to 10:30 am. The Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way Co-Naming Program, to be held from 11 am to 12 pm, will be led by City Council Member Shekhar Krishnan. The event is a collaborative effort between the US Nepal Climbers Association, United Sherpa Association (USA), Inc., and the Sherpa Association in America. Everest Day will be celebrated with a special program, including an exhibition of Nepali original and cultural dances from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Pasang Nima Sherpa, president of the US Nepal Climbers Association Inc., and Mingmar Lama, senior vice president, and program coordinator, have also issued a statement co-naming 75th Street between Broadway and Woodside Avenue after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first human climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Mentioning that this step by the local government symbolizes the increased stature of the Nepali community, they have welcomed and requested attendance at this historic event, expressing their happiness with the decision made by the New York City Council.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank and inaugural Asia Fellow of the Milken Institute, Curtis S. Chin, said, “The co-naming of a section of 75th Street after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa recognizes the life and legacy of a pioneering mountaineer. But more than that, it is also a tribute to the vibrant Nepali-Sherpa community in Queens, New York, and all across America. In these increasingly divided times, the naming of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way is also, for me, an important tribute to and a celebration of Norgay’s focus on perseverance, teamwork, and friendship that we should all take to heart. Norgay, ‘The Tiger of the Snow,’ famously said, ‘No man on a mountain or elsewhere gets more out of anything than he puts into it… Be great, make others great.’ Friends are as important as achievements. Teamwork is the key to success, and selfishness only makes a man small. All our leaders and each and every one of us could use a little more of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa’s wisdom today.”
“Time” magazine named Norgay as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, and it is fitting that we celebrate him today, not just on Everest Day but also on Memorial Day and on the last Monday of a month where the United States celebrates the diversity, heritage, and impact of all Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. With Queens, New York’s vibrant Nepali, Sherpa, Indian, Tibetan, and Bhutanese communities, among many other Asian heritage communities, this multicultural borough in this multicultural American city offers the perfect setting for this co-naming event. A timeless message is clear from Tenzing Norgay Sherpa’s life—we are all stronger together. In addition to celebrating the co-naming of a street, let’s also celebrate, embrace, and emulate Norgay’s commitment to teamwork,” said Curtis S. Chin.
Chin has been a longtime friend of members of the Norgay family and of Nepal. He began his frequent travels to Nepal, starting as a teaching assistant in Gyanodaya Bal Batika Boarding School in Lalitpur (Patan), and has returned frequently in various capacities, including as the U.S. ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, a member of the advisory board of the Dolma Impact Fund, and as the inaugural Asia Fellow of the Milken Institute.
The program is going to be held on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Norgay reaching the summit of Mount Everest for the first time in 1953, alongside Edmund Hillary of New Zealand. Norgay died in 1986 at the age of 71, and Hillary in 2008 at the age of 88.
There has been a longstanding effort to co-name 75th Street from Broadway to Woodside after Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. In May 2017, when Sherpa Kyidug was under the leadership of Urgen Sherpa, the proposal to co-name 75th Street to reflect Nepal was brought to then City Council member Daniel Dromm from the 25th District. At that time, the proposed co-names for the street included Nepal Street, Sagarmatha Street, Gautam Buddha Street, and Lumbini Street.
Initially, the proposal aimed to co-name the entire street from 30th Avenue to Woodside to reflect Nepaliness. However, due to the involvement of two different districts, the process became prolonged. In March 2019, at the initiative of Costa Constantinides, the City Council member of the 22nd district, only the corner of 31st Avenue and 75th Street was co-named Mount Everest Way. The co-naming of just one corner was easier compared to renaming multiple blocks, leading to the announcement of Mount Everest Way at that time.
Subsequently, the proposal brought forth by Sherpa Kyidug to City Council member Dromm from the 25th District was successful. Another motion was presented to co-name 75th Street from Roosevelt Avenue to Woodside Avenue in Jackson Heights after TN Sherpa, short for Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. However, the second proposal faced obstacles, as Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was required to prove either American citizenship or significant contributions to the USA.
When Urgen was appointed to the Community Board, he gained more knowledge about the street naming process. In 2021, the proposal to c0-name the street Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way was made for the third time. Contact was made with Norgay’s family and children, and information was obtained about Norgay’s contributions to the USA, leading to his recognition by the US government.
The motion to name Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way was taken to the City Council by Daniel Dromm, the then City Council member from the 25th District, and it was passed shortly thereafter in 2021. Although the original proposal suggested co-naming the street from Roosevelt Avenue to Woodside, only the two blocks of 75th Street from Broadway to Woodside were ultimately designated as Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way. Requests were made to place three Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way signs on Broadway, 41st Avenue, and Woodside Avenue, but ultimately only one sign will be placed on 41st Avenue. After nearly six years of effort, 75th Street will be co-named Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Way, a special honor for the Nepali community in New York.
Tenzing Norgay was born on May 29, 1914, and successfully climbed Mt. Everest at the age of 39. Although his exact date of birth is unknown, he chose to celebrate his birthday on the day of his successful Everest ascent. He began his climbing journey at the age of 19 and passed away on May 9, 1986, at the age of 71 in Darjeeling, India.
There are conflicting accounts of Tenzing’s early life. In his autobiography, he mentioned being a Sherpa born and raised in Tengboche, Khumbu, Northeast Nepal. However, in a 1985 interview with All India Radio, he stated that his parents were from Tibet but he himself was born in Nepal. Many later accounts, including a book co-authored by his son Jamling Tenzin Norgay, claim that he was born in Tibet. It is also mentioned that he went to Nepal as a child to work for a Sherpa family in Khumbu.
Tenzing’s childhood was spent amidst yaks grazing in the shadowy pastures of Nepal’s Himalayas. At the age of eighteen, he journeyed to Darjeeling on foot. He spent twenty years as a laborer in Darjeeling. Time magazine recognized Norgay as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.