On Tuesday night, after 90 minutes of debating with the CB3 community board, LeRoy McCarthy – who in October 2013 tried to have a street in Brooklyn renamed in honor of The Notorious B.I.G – did not receive approval from the board to rename the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington to “Beastie Boy Square.” The reasoning for this decision was that the group – which photographed the intersection for the cover of their classic 1989 album cover – did not fit the guidelines required for co-naming, which includes community involvement and volunteering.
Nonetheless, New York City has a history of renaming streets, parks and playgrounds after famous musicians. Today we share some places located around NYC which has paid honored to some of the artists who helped shaped the identity of the city.
1. Wu-Tang Clan District
In May 2019, the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Street in Staten Island’s Park Hill neighborhood was officially named the Wu Tang Clan District by the New York City Council. Members of the Wu-Tang Clan attended the event. City Councilmember Debi Rose said in a statement, “The Wu-Tang Clan turned their experiences growing up in Park Hill into something that now resonates with people all over the world, with young people who live in urban settings, young people whose neighborhoods are underserved, and young people who face economic and social challenges.”
2. Adam Yauch Park – Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
This tribute to Adam Yaunch (MCA) of The Beastie Boys was unveiled last year. Adam, who passed away in April 2012, grew up not to far from the Brooklyn Heights park, where his parents still live today.
3. Run DMC JMJ Way – Queens
In August 2009, the corner of 205th and Hollis Avenue in Queens, NY was renamed after the popular hip hop trio, who broke through many barriers during the infancy of hip hop in the 1980’s. Many legendary hip hop acts have come from Hollis, Queens, but none were able to have the impact commercially that RUN DMC had.
4. Harry Chapin Playground – Brooklyn Heights
Folk singer Harry Chapin – who gave 100 benefit concerts a year before his death in 1981 – was honored by NYC with this park by his childhood home in Brooklyn Heights. Chapin was not only a musicians but a member of the Air Force and an activist against world hunger.
5. Miles Davis Way – Upper West Side
In December 2013, one of Mayor Bloomberg’s final acts as Mayor was to sign a bill renaming West 77th. Street between Riverside Drive and West End Ave. “Miles Davis Way.” The project to get the street renamed after the legendary Jazz musician took five years of meetings and support rallies led by Miles’ former friend and fellow musician Shirley Zafirau. The official unveiling should take place sometime this year.
6. Diana Ross Playground – Central Park West
In 1983, world famous musician Diana Ross promised to pay for a children’s playground in Central Park, with the proceeds of a free televised concert that took place in Central Park. According to an article in People in 1984, Ross told then Mayor Ed Koch that the concert did not make a profit. So using her own money (and money from the city) the playground named in her honor was opened in 1987.
7. Joey Ramone Place – NoHo
The tribute to legendary Ramones front man Joey Ramone has more of a reputation than the other places named after famous musicians. Placed in NoHo, where Joey and the band members who adopted his name helped form the Punk Rock scene in the 70s and the 80’s. The sign is raised to 20 feet from street level for it is the most stolen street sign in NYC. A fitting tribute to the Punk Rock icon.
8. Tito Puente Way – East Harlem
In “Spanish Harlem,” East 110th Street pays tribute to the “mambo king” Tito Puente, whose career spanned over 50 years. The street was named after him, for Puente spent his first years living where the sign is posted before becoming an icon of Puerto Rican and Latin culture.
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