General Kosciuszko Way in Los Angeles

Second Place renamed

by Artur Zygmont

General Kosciuszko Way is a two block long street near the Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. UntiI Mary Dziadula began her one woman campaign to have a street named in honor of the famous Revolutionary War general, it was known as Second Place.

Mary Dziadula had long felt that the City of Los Angeles should honor the men and women who fought for their country. As a member of a Polish American family with a fine military tradition, she felt that Polish Americans should be recognized. Dziadula's brother, Casimir Partyka, a World War II veteran, served in General Patton's 3rd Armored Division; her husband, Louis Dziadula, who began his service as an enlisted man and retired as a Major, served in World War II and Korea. Finally, Dziadula decided that a street in Los Angeles should bear the name of the most famous military officer in America's military history: General Thaddeus Kosciuszko. His engineering skills resulted in victories in the battles of Saratoga, Trenton, Princeton and West Point and led directly to the British surrender.

In early 1976, Mary Dziadula wrote to the Los Angeles City Council, requesting that a street be named after the famous general. To her astonishment and disappointment, her request was tabled. The City Engineer advised the Public works Committee that the name General Thaddeus Kosciuszko cannot be utilized effectively as a public street name because of its length and the difficulty of pronunciation. The City Engineer added that such a street would cause problems in communication and would lead to confusion. On August 27, 1976, the Public Works Committee, using the same arguments as the City Engineer, recommended to the City Council "that because of the length and difficulty in pronunciation and spelling that the request to name a city street after General Thaddeus Kosciuszko a figure in the American Revolution, be received and filed."

The City Council followed the recommendation. But, Mary Dziadula did not give up. She was even more determined, after reading local newspapers making light of her proposal and even showing a caricature of Kosciuszko with a big moustache. She wrote to Councilman Ernani Bernardi, who replied to her on September 20, 1976, stating that the Public Works Committee rejection "is an affront to a hero of the American Revolution for the Council to reject naming a street in his honor based on the difficulty in pronunciation and spelling of his name." He promised that "the Council would give careful thought to giving General Kosciuszko the esteem he deserves." Councilman Bernardi, with support from Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, made a motion to reactivate the file. It passed. For the next year or so, the reactivated file remained barely alive while the Byzantine processes of various city committees took up the issue. Finally, on January 17, 1978, Second Place was renamed General Kosciuszko Way. Mary Dziadula had won.

From: Polish Americans in California, Vol. II.; National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs & Polish American Historical Association. California 1995.