Street renaming honor for Batman co-creator

(l-r) Finger’s granddaughter Alethia Mariotta, great-grandson Benjamin Cruz and granddaughter Athena Finger with a ceremonial street sign honoring their family member, a Batman co-creator.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

The co-creator of Batman who helped develop the comic book character in the 1940s while living near the Grand Concourse is finally getting much-deserved recognition.

Family members of Bill Finger, one of Batman’s original creators who helped develop the character and the original story lines, revealed the ceremonial street sign on Friday, December 8 that co-named part of East 192nd Street in memory.

Batman comic book and movie aficionados and P.S. 46 students cheered the unveiling, which gave recognition to a man who for seven decades had been relatively unknown.

According to experts on the subject who attended the event outside of Poe Park, Finger was the co-creator of the Batman character along with Bob Kane, but never received credit or recognition for it until recently.

He passed away in 1974.

Councilman Ritchie Torres sponsored legislation to have part of the street near Poe Park named in Finger’s honor, who was placed on a list of notable Bronxites by the Bronx County Historical Society in 2009.

Torres said he first came to know of Finger through Marc Nobleman, who wrote a book called ‘Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.’

Councilman Torres gives a commemorative replica of the new street sign to Steve Simons (c) and Athena Finger (r), Bill Finger’s stepson and granddaughter.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

The councilman then said he learned that Finger worked on the Batman character at Poe Park and was a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School.

“I never knew that the co-creator of Batman had roots in the Bronx,” said Torres, adding “The irony here is even though the creation is iconic – everyone knows Batman – the creator is largely obscure; few people know Bill’s name, and we aim to change that.”

Nobleman said that the street renaming was part of an effort get Finger’s name out into the limelight, and that he had visited Poe Park before the book on Finger was under contract in order to research the author.

“Before I knew any of this was possible, I was lobbying to get Bill a memorial in the Bronx in Poe Park,” said Nobleman, adding that after the release of his book and a related documentary film called Batman and Bill.

Interest in recognizing Finger was growing when he met Torres in 2015.

Nobleman said he was pleased to learn in late-2016 that legislation to authorize the street co-naming was moving forward.

“I wanted it to be in or near Poe Park because I felt that it would make it more likely that people would go there or just come upon it on their own,” said Nobleman.

Councilman Torres joined by Finger’s relatives and Batman.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Ritchie Torres’ Office

Nobleman said that a change was made in 2015 that gave Finger credit on the comic.

People from as a far away as Utah attended the street co-naming event adjacent to Poe Park, many seeking autographs from Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman in the animated series.

Conroy said that Finger’s name had, until recently, been lost to history.

“I have benefitted so much from the character that Bill Finger helped create,” said Conroy at the ceremony. “History makes lots of mistakes, we can’t change history but we can make amends.”

Steven Simmons said that Finger, his stepfather, told him about “giving the character a cape, bat-mobile and creating the bat cave.”

“I can see his big smile now as he looks down on this gathering with pride,” said Simmons at the ceremony.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Detective Comics #27 featured Batman with Bob Kane as the artist and Bill Finger contributing and writing the story.
Photo courtesy of DC Entertainment

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