Street co-naming pits Gowanus legend against thieving politician

Street co-naming pits Gowanus legend against thieving politician
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Gowanus residents would love to co-name a street after beloved war vet Thomas D’Alessio — they just don’t want you to Google his name.

That’s because the deceased do-gooder known to Sackett Street neighbors as “Tommy the Mayor” shares his name with a thieving New Jersey sheriff-turned-county chief who won’t get anything named after him but a cell block.

Google the name “Thomas D’Alessio” and that bad Thomas — who was busted for spending campaign cash lavishly on a vacation and real estate in the 1990s — tops the results page thanks to his high-profile criminal case.

And the good Thomas’s friends don’t want the bad Thomas’s poor reputation to besmirch the name of a man known for telling stories and buying ice cream for neighborhood kids.

A Google search won’t tell you that Brooklyn’s D’Alessio fought on the front lines in the battle of Normandy in World War II and lived on Sackett Street for 91 years (well, at least not until this story gets crawled by a Google bot).

His son (also named Thomas, and not the guy from Jersey) said his pop remained upbeat even when a drunk driver ran him down, injuring his legs, and was known to wax poetic about the Great Depression and Brooklyn’s history to anyone that would listen.

Thomas A. D’Alessio Jr., with a photo of his dad, for whom he wants to name a section of Sackett Street.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

“The people on his block got a much better appreciation of the neighborhood through his stories,” said his daughter Marie D’Alessio.

He also supported Our Lady of Peace church on Fourth Avenue and could be spotted buying goodies for kids on the block until he died in 2008, his son said.

Neighbors are now petitioning the city to honor his memory by co-naming part of the street “Thomas A. D’Alessio Way.”

His daughter thinks that adding the middle initial will help resolve any potential internet mix up — especially because the other Thomas’s middle name begins with a “J,” as in “jail.”

That way, future generations will know what the name Thomas A. D’Alessio stood for — even if neighbors who knew him don’t need a reminder.

“People on the block will know it’s him,” she said.

Neighbors want to name A section of Sackett Street off Third Avenue in Gowanus for Thomas A. D’Alessio — just don’t Google his name.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.