Volume 22, Number 27 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 13 - 19, 2009
Elk may get touch of the Irish
Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee unanimously approved an advisory resolution on Tuesday night to add the name Frank Durkan Way to Elk St. Frank Durkan was a lawyer best known for defending Irish Americans who were entangled in the conflict in Northern Ireland.
“I think what we often overlook is the number of heroes who live among us, ordinary citizens who display tremendous moral courage in their lives” said Durkan’s friend, James Cullen, an attorney, who spoke in front of the committee about the co-naming. “And Frank Durkan was one of those people.”
Durkan immigrated to New York City from Ireland in 1930, and later rose to become a senior partner at his uncle’s law firm, O’Dwyer and Bernstein where he earned a reputation as a zealous civil rights attorney. The firm moved to 52 Duane St. in the 1980s in order to be closer to the Supreme Court and U.S. District Court. He died in 2006 at the age of 76.
A few committee members raised concerns because some of his Durkan’s clients were accused of smuggling weapons, but they decided to support the co-naming anyway. If approved by the City Council, the Frank Durkan Way sign will be located on the southwest corner of Reade and Elk Sts.
— Leslie Picker