Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard: Like Its Namesake, at the Center of the Upper West Side
By Daniel Krieger for The West Side Rag, Sept. 7, 2022
For Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel Prize-winning literary giant, the Upper West Side played a major role in the story of his own evolution. It was where he found his footing as an artist and grew into a new and fruitful life in the United States.
Singer stayed put on Central Park West for about 20 years until he was robbed at gunpoint in his apartment lobby. He moved briefly to West 72nd Street, then, in 1965, to The Belnord, a humongous Renaissance-style limestone rental building that takes up an entire square block on West 86th Street. When it was finished in 1909, it was the talk of the town, and according to this recent New York Times article about it, has been ever since.
One year before his death in 1991, West 86th Street from Broadway to Amsterdam was named Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard in his honor. (The street where he lived in Surfside was also named after him.)
Dressed in a suit and tie, Singer was a common sight taking long walks around the neighborhood for decades — up to six miles a day, according to his personal assistant — and The New York Times once called him “the grand old man of the Upper West Side.”
“Singer won the National Book Award in 1970, and in 1978, he became the only Yiddish-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature. The Swedish Academy described his impassioned narratives which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, bring universal human conditions to life.’’Daniel Krieger