Street renamed after LIC hero

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He ran inside to help when anyone else would have run away.

That was, in essence, the story the family and co-workers of Charles “Chuck” Costello told when they gathered together at 27th Street and 47th Avenue in Long Island City last Thursday to celebrate a street naming in his honor.

Costello, who was born in Woodhaven, lived in New Jersey and worked at the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local One at 47-24 27th St. in Long Island City for 16 years, died on Sept. 11, 2001. He had been working at the Mercer Hotel in downtown Manhattan when the planes hit and ran into the North Tower in the hope of helping anyone who had been stuck in an elevator.

He never came out.

“There were a lot of heroes on that day, but Chuck was ours,” said Lenny Legotte, president of Local One.

More than 70 people came out for the co-naming of the street right across from where Costello worked to “Chuck Costello 9-11 Memorial Way.”

Legotte and Michael Halprin, an organizer with Local One, said they had been working for about two years to get the street renamed and hit what they called “a speed bump” until City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) stepped in to help.

“We went to Councilman Van Bramer and he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it,’” Halprin said.

Van Bramer said there were many stories of heroism from Sept. 11, but he called Chuck Costello’s story “a particularly special one.”

“Everyone on this street, everyone 50 years from now, will know Chuck Costello was a special man,” Van Bramer said.

Bagpipers from Local One Pipes and Drums played on a stage shared by members of Costello’s family, including his wife Mary Costello, brother Ray Costello, daughter Amanda Taylor and wiggly 10-month-old grandson Dylan Taylor.

Mary Costello, Ray Costello and members of the union spoke of Chuck Costello’s selfless and humble nature.

“They don’t make them like that anymore,” said Mary Costello. “He was a good guy all around.”

Ray Costello said he believed his brother would not have wanted the street renamed as he was a very “low key” person. He said that after his death friends would approach members of Chuck Costello’s family and tell them stories about how much Chuck Costello had helped them when he was alive.

Ray Costello also said he and his brother had “good times” growing up in Queens.

“We miss him more today than we ever did,” Ray Costello said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 11:01 am, October 12, 2011
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