ABC News Location Named Peter Jennings Way

ByABC News

Feb, 21, 2006 — -- Peter Jennings has now been linked permanently to the New York neighborhood he called home, as the Manhattan street where he worked for decades has been renamed in his honor.

In a ceremony today, the block that is home to ABC News' headquarters was officially dubbed Peter Jennings Way in honor of the late "World New Tonight" anchor. Family and friends of Jennings, ABC News President David Westin and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the dedication on West 66th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, on New York City's Upper West Side.

The ceremony paid tribute to the legacy Jennings left on New York, journalism and his viewers.

"Peter Jennings spent decades speaking directly to each of us," said Bloomberg. "And [now] we'll walk down Peter Jennings Way."'

"Good Morning America" anchors Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, Chief Washington correspondent and "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, and Jennings' successor Elizabeth Vargas were among Jennings' former colleagues who attended the ceremony. Vargas said renaming the block was a fitting tribute to Jennings, who anchored "World News Tonight" for more than 20 years

"It's a wonderful public way to tip our hats," said Vargas, as she waited for the ceremony to begin. "This is the way we enter every day and [the way] Peter entered for 23 years."

Politicians and family members spoke about Jennings' international contributions as a journalist, as well as his more local achievements; he maintained a strong commitment to those in his community through charitable work. Jennings lived close to his office and loved his neighborhood.

"Dad walked to work and he walked home," said his daughter, Elizabeth. Standing between her brother, Chris, and stepmother, Kayce Freed, she spoke for the family at the ceremony.

Elizabeth said she hopes that "like any good monument," this tribute will affect the future and remind others of her father's commitment to journalism and solid values.

Westin approached Bloomberg and inquired about a tribute to the anchor shortly after Jennings' death. Westin thanked the city for approving the street name so quickly and went on to recall his experiences of walking in the neighborhood with his former friend and colleague.

Westin described his surprise one night, while heading to Tavern on the Green in Central Park, at seeing Jennings stop to talk with a street vendor nearby. "Peter had known this man for seven years," said Westin.

The new, green street sign is a permanent memorial to the man who left such an indelible mark on the landscape of American journalism. Jennings died last August at age 67 from lung cancer, four months after publicly disclosing his illness.

Jennings first joined ABC News in 1964, anchoring "Peter Jennings with the News" from 1965 to 1967. He was named anchor and senior editor of "World News Tonight" in 1983 and received almost every major award given to television journalists. In his 22 years in the anchor chair, Jennings won 16 Emmys, two George Foster Peabody awards, several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University awards, several Overseas Press Club awards and two consecutive Edward R. Murrow awards.

As one of America's most distinguished journalists, Jennings reported many pivotal, world-shaping events. He was also an author, writing "The Century" with Todd Brewster. They structured the book, which made The New York Times' best-seller list, as an epic tale about "ourselves," including astonishing first-person accounts of the great events of the century.

Jennings also established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world in 1968 when he served as ABC News' bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, a position he held for seven years.

Jennings helped put ABC News on the map in 1972 with his coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, when Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage.

His extensive domestic and international reporting was evident in "World News Tonight"'s coverage of major crises. He reported from all 50 states and locations around the globe. During the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War, his knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs brought invaluable perspective to ABC News' coverage. He also covered the drug trade in Central and South America.

Jennings also tackled important domestic issues as gun control policy, the politics of abortion, the crisis in funding for the arts in "Peter Jennings Reporting," his documentary series. The series received high praise for a chronicle of the accused bombers of Oklahoma City, and earned numerous awards, including the 2004 Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary for "The Kennedy Assassination -- Beyond Conspiracy."

Jennings' last documentary, "Peter Jennings Reporting: Breakdown -- America's Health Insurance Crisis," aired on ABC in December. Vargas and Bob Woodruff succeeded him as co-anchors of "World News Tonight" in January. Woodruff is recuperating from injuries he suffered from a bomb attack while reporting from Iraq last month.'s Patricia Tscharskyj and Simon Fong contributed to this report.

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