A. If you’ve been to or live in New York, you must know Sixth Avenue was renamed to Avenue of the Americas in 1945. Today, most people still use the short numbered name. Now, if you want to test this, take a New York cab or one of those ride-sharing car services and ask the driver what they call this busy thoroughfare.
Then-Mayor Fiorello La Guardia renamed it to honor "Pan-American ideals and principles" and the nations of Central and South America, and to encourage those countries to build consulates along the avenue. The name was meant to sound grand.
The signs carry both Avenue of the Americans and Sixth Avenue on top of one another. Come to think of it, Sixth has always had to make certain adjustments. Above Central Park, Sixth became Lenox Avenue after James Lenox which was also co-named Malcolm X Boulevard for the slain civil rights leader. While Sixth all goes all the way down to Church and Franklin Streets, it ends at Carmine Street and Minetta Lane.
Sixth has evolved through the years. High-rise towers sprung up here as the avenue became more commercialized, but the Flower District running up Sixth between 26th and 28th is still there. By the way, Tin Pan Alley, the epicenter for songwriting in New York in early 20th century, was on 28th between Fifth and Sixth.
Above Herald Square and Bryant Park, modern architecture like Rockefeller Center arose on the Avenue between 47th and 52nd Streets. In 1957, Sixth Avenue was reconfigured to carry one-way traffic north of its intersection with Broadway in Herald Square. The rest of the avenue followed suit in 1963. [Note: Nikola Tesla has a dedicated street corner at 40th & AOA, adjacent to Bryant Park.]
Trying to shed its supposedly “shabby” past, the city continued its makeover of Sixth in the mid-1970s adding patterned brick crosswalks, repainting streetlamps with special lighting, and providing new pedestrian plazas.