It was a street nearly 94 years in the naming.
Legendary Courier columnist Lou Powsner received the city’s equivalent of a monument in Yankee Stadium on Saturday when Mermaid Avenue between W. 17th and W. 19th street was co-named for the man known for years as “The Mayor of Coney Island.”
Powsner, a haberdasher whose prose graced the pages of the Brooklyn Graphic, Bay News, Bay Ridge Courier, and Mill Marine Courier for more than 60 years, was honored on the block where he lived and worked for a good portion of his nearly 94 years.
“Lou stayed in Coney Island when many fled,” said former Borough President Marty Markowitz during Sept. 26 ceremonies prior to the unveiling of the new street sign. “He never stopped fighting for the neighborhood, and he’s a big reason for the neighborhood’s resurgence.”
Markowitz added that Powsner was one of the many characters Brooklyn was known for in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, when the borough fell on hard times, and guys with guts and moxie like Lou carried the torch for her.
“Sadly, there aren’t many of these characters left,” Markowitz said, “and the borough sorely misses them.”
Powsner fought for brighter street lights to help stop nighttime crime, and battled the city over parking meters he said gave suburban shopping malls an unfair advantage over his beloved main streets like Mermaid Avenue — where his men’s shop was open for business from when he was a child until he retired in 1994.
And local reporters used his photographic memory like a library, picking his brain as if going through the official microfiched archives of the borough that could be counted on to help put any situation in perspective.
“Whenever I assigned a reporter to cover Coney Island, the first person I would have them call was Lou,” Courier editor Vince DiMiceli said. “That is, if he hadn’t call them first.”
Also on hand for the ceremony — which was put together by local Councilman Mark Treyger — were former Assemblywoman Adele Cohen, Assemblyman Bill Colton, Powsner’s daughter Bonnie, son Farrel, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nearly 100 other well-wishers.