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Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way : Short Street, Long Name--and Slick Future

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Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way--the short, short street with the long, long name--remains an orphan byway, eight years after it was born amid an oafish municipal controversy.

It is not much to look at--two short blocks of sturdy asphalt under an overlay of dust and grit from the construction around it. But it is that construction, and what it portends for the two blocks’ future, that makes Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way important.

For the street, known in informal shorthand to municipal planners as GTKW, is right in the heart of that massive redevelopment atop Bunker Hill that is turning a portion of the neighborhood into a high-rise showcase.

Within less than a decade, unless projections go awry, Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way, which runs between Olive and Hope streets, will be awash in slick office buildings, residential towers and at least one hotel.

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Work on two of the residential towers is already under way, and a pair of office buildings have been constructed on upper Grand Avenue, overlooking GTKW. Their eye-catching neighbor, the red stone Museum of Contemporary Art, will open soon.

“Being in the middle of all those great buildings, GTKW is going to be a busy and important access street,” said Yukio Kawaratani, the Community Redevelopment Agency’s senior city planner.

But that’s the catch: “ Access street.” Despite it’s distinguished-sounding name, poor little GTKW is never going to rank in the national consciousness with such legends as Hollywood or Sunset or Wilshire boulevards.

As plans stand now, the street will never even have a single street address to distinguish it. That’s because it will serve only as an entry to delivery areas of the gleaming high rises, and a passage to the parking structures to be built along it.

While Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way may not be the shortest street in town--no one appears to know for certain--it is the shortest street with the longest name, for sure.

The City Council at first refused to name the little street after the Polish-born hero of the Revolutionary War because members agreed with a recommendation of the city engineer’s office that the name was too long for a street sign and too difficult to pronounce. (In fact, it is pronounced cause-choose-ko. )

Then, after a blistering from Americans of Polish heritage across the nation--particularly Mary Dziadula, a self-described “little old lady from Burbank"--the council reconsidered.

The street came into existence about 15 years ago, when redevelopment of Bunker Hill began. For seven years, it remained nameless, until, in 1977 the suggestion was made that a street be named in memory of the heralded general.

An ‘Utter Scandal’

The City Council rejected the proposal on a unanimous vote. The Chicago-born Dziadula, (pronounced Jadula), widow of an Army career man, thought that was an utter scandal, and pointed out to the council that aside from his military contribution to the revolutionary forces, Kosciuszko was a “Renaissance man"--a gifted painter, architect, composer, scholar and philosopher who “was accepted as an intellectual equal” by no less than Thomas Jefferson.

Americans of Polish heritage across the country shared her outrage and wrote to point out that other U.S. cities had named streets after him, and two states--Mississippi and Texas--had even named towns for him.

Today, Dziadula, 70, savors the memory of the battle to memorialize the war hero. And of the prospect that the tiny thoroughfare may soon become one of the most essential in the downtown area--"I’m thrilled,” she says.


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