Should 30th Street Station be renamed to honor a former Philadelphia congressman?
A petition at Change.org says no, and has so far gathered more than 500 signatures pleading to keep the station's name the same. The petition's stated goal is 1,000 signatures.
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U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah introduced the original resolution to rename the station in honor of the William Gray III, who previously occupied Fattah's seat in Congress. On Thursday night, the U.S. Senate passed the resolution to rename 30th Street Station "The William H. Gray III 30th Street Station." The bill is now awaiting President Obama's signature to become reality.
However, the Change.org petition is addressed to Mayor Michael Nutter, rather than the president.
Signed "We the People of Philadephia" and created by Change.org user Michael Miskiel, the petition defends the name of 30th Street Station.
"Although it may seem simple, it's name certainly holds ginormous value -- whether in regards to the ease of finding the station's location, or to the fondest memories it holds from childhood to adulthood," the petition says.
The petition adds that tribute could be paid more effectively to Gray in other means.
"A monument outside or inside 'The 30th Street Station', with a detailed history engraved in a plaque, in honor of William H. Gray III, would hold more value to our people's knowledge of history as opposed to changing the name to the entire station as 'The William H. Gray III 30th Street Station," Miskiel's petition states.
The petition has now been supported by Bennett Levin, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society, who wrote an open letter to Pennsylvnia's U.S. senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey and to U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah.
Levin states that Gray "has absolutely no connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad, or the neighborhood in which the station stands" and recommends naming the station instead in honor of someone connected with its creation: such as J. Edgar Thomson, Thomas A. Scott, Herman Haupt, or General William Wallace Atterbury -- all of whom, he argues, have a more significant connection to the station.
"I ask you to pause and consider (with all due respect) the enormous challenges facing this nation this week and ask yourself; Do we really need to spend the time, money and energy to rename this iconic building after another politician?" Levin's letter asks. "Maybe our fellow citizens would have a higher regard for Congress if serious issues were addressed rather than memorializing another member of Congress with building with which he or she has no connection."
Gray, who died a year ago, was a former North Philadelphia pastor who rose to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.