By Victoria Merlino
How do you get to Sesame Street? Well, just take the No. 1 or No. 2 train to Lincoln Center and walk a couple blocks to West 63rd Street and Broadway — the new “official” address of Sesame Street, per the city government.
A few Queens residents are perturbed about that designation.
To honor the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking television show, the city renamed that Upper West Side intersection “Sesame Street” at a special ceremony Wednesday. The intersection is next to 1900 Broadway, the headquarters of the nonprofit Sesame Workshop.
“Sesame Street changed this country. And for everyone who has been a part of it, I hope you feel that — that what you’ve done has been profoundly important,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, with Big Bird by his side.
But a lot of people are miffed that the real life address trades the fictional Sesame Street’s stoops and sidewalks for sterile skyscrapers and Starbucks.
“This is poppycock. @sesamestreet is clearly in QUEENS. #QueensRepresent #AlwaysOvershadowedbyManhattan,” one person tweeted.
In a literal sense, the show really is in Queens: Sesame Street has filmed at Queens’ Kaufman Astoria Studios since the 1990s.
Sesame Street also captures the spirit of Queens, said Cinnette Wilder, who has lived in Astoria, Woodside and Long Island City.
“Sesame Street has the Queens-iest vibe of anything that ever vibed Queens. What are these people talking about,” Wilder tweeted.
She shared her perspective in an interview with the Eagle.
“Queens is the most diverse place in the entire US, and one of the most diverse in the world,” Wilder said. “And Sesame Street has always been about diversity, inclusiveness and has always aimed to teach kids about acceptance and tolerance and discovering new people.”
“Sesame Street is a neighborhood with a home-y feel, which Queens has in spades,” she continued. “Manhattan has neighborhoods, yeah. But those feel really showy and not much like a block the neighbors can hang out and chat amongst each other, you know? The Manhattan vibe is busy and doesn't have time for getting to know the people on the block, but Queens is all about that.”
For Albany resident Alyssa Fluty, Sesame Street means more than just a simple show.
“Growing up, my family didn’t really have cable being a house of seven. So I grew up on ‘Sesame Street,’” she told the Eagle. “It was a program full of imagination, learning, and we didn’t have to worry about questionable content or being pumped with ads for the toy you HAD to have.”
“Sesame Street was set in an everyday neighborhood, with everyday neighbors, even if a few of them were ‘furry’ or ‘Grouchy’. That neighborhood was based in Queens,” Fluty continued. “The studio itself is in Queens, so why in the world would they make the ‘Official’ Sesame Street in Manhattan? Manhattan is nothing like Queens. Queens is the home of Sesame Street, and if you want to see Sesame Street, go to Queens where you can actually experience the heart of Sesame Street, rather than another tourist attraction that is likely already flooded with those walking Elmo knockoffs,” Fluty continued.
For years, fans have fiercely debated the exact location of Sesame Street.
The New York Public Library noted that the Sesame Street Subway Stop is visited by the A, B, No. 1 and No. 2 trains — a transit hub that doesn’t exist in real life.
The library speculated that Sesame Street could be in many diverse locales, including Astoria, Alphabet City, Lincoln Center, the Bronx, Harlem and somewhere near 86th Street, based on clues from the show, architecture and places meaningful to the show’s development.
So with all due respect to the mayor, can the city government really tell us how to get to Sesame Street?