NEW YORK – The Upper West Side brownstone where Humphrey Bogart grew up has long ago been turned into public housing. But the block, like Paris, will always be his.
Scores of fans stood in the drizzle this weekend as the city unveiled a plaque renaming the short stretch in front of 245 W. 103rd St. as Humphrey Bogart Place.
"Bogie would have never believed it," said Lauren Bacall, who was married to the Oscar-winning actor from 1945 until his death in 1957. She said the day was an emotional one, and her time with Bogart too short.
"I'm happy he is honored," she said. "Of course, it's only brass on a wall."
Born in 1899 to well-to-do parents, a surgeon and an illustrator, Bogart lived at the home until 1923. He went on to make dozens of films, including the classics "The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca" and "The African Queen."
The campaign to recognize the actor's connection to the neighborhood was waged by a movie buff and fellow kid from the block, Gary Dennis.
A video store owner, Dennis never knew Bogart, but learned they had grown up on the same street while reading the actor's biography when he was 10. The connection continued to fascinate him decades later.
"Of all the blocks, of all the streets, in all the neighborhoods in all the boroughs of this city, he had to grow up on mine," Dennis said at Saturday's ceremony, riffing on a Bogart line from 1942's "Casablanca."
Over the past year, Dennis collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition and solicited the aid of city officials and the Housing Authority.
As a native son, Bogart might be forgiven for maligning the city of his birth in another memorable line from "Casablanca."
Goading Bogart's character, Rick, the Nazi officer Major Strasser asks whether he can imagine what it will be like to see German troops in New York.
"Well," Rick responds, "There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."