Hip-hop history is hidden in plain sight, all over New York City – from street signs to nondescript storefronts – if you know where to look.
On Aug. 11, hip-hop, which was born in the Big Apple, marks its 50th anniversary.
Leroy McCarthy, a location scout for film and TV, has advocated for the city to honor hip-hop pioneers. He’s also worked for streets to be named after prominent figures in hip-hop.
“It shouldn’t take 50 years for New York City to embrace hip-hop,” he said. “Hip-hop comes from New York, and it makes billions of dollars a year around the world. It’s like an ambassador for New York City.”
Whether you’re a dedicated hip-hop head or you’re just getting into the history of the genre, below is a list of important hip-hop spaces around the city, curated by McCarthy and the Gothamist team.
The Birthplace of Hip-Hop
1520 Sedgwick Avenue
This address is widely considered to be the “Birthplace of Hip-Hop.” On Aug. 11, 1973, Cindy Campbell and her brother DJ Kool Herc threw a back-to-school party in the recreation room of this multistory apartment building. Herc figured out how to find the most danceable parts of songs and extend them by playing the same record on two turntables and repeating the sample. Over 300 people showed up to the party, and the building soon became known as where hip-hop was born.
The Bronx Walk of Fame
This 23-block stretch along the Grand Concourse, known as the Bronx Walk of Fame, is where more than 125 Bronxites are honored for their noteworthy achievements in the form of street signs. Some recognizable names from hip-hop include Remy Ma, Kid Capri, Swizz Beats, and Funkmaster Flex.
Notorious B.I.G.’s childhood home
Before making his huge impact in hip-hop and across music, Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace lived at 226 St. James Place with his mother.
Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way
Down the block at the corner of Fulton Street and St. James Place is the street co-named Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way. McCarthy campaigned for more than five years to rename the street, and the City Council approved it in 2018. The sign went up in 2019.
King of New York Biggie Mural
The two-story tribute to Biggie is located on the side of a building located at Quincy Street and Bedford Avenue in Bed-Stuy at 1091 Bedford Ave. The artwork is inspired by his last photoshoot before his death for the cover of Rap Pages magazine, which was shot by photographer Barron Claiborne.
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is known for hosting the Brooklyn Nets and other events on a regular basis, but it all began with hip-hop. To celebrate its opening in September 2012, the venue hosted eight sold-out Jay-Z concerts.
Beastie Boys Square
Beastie Boys Square, at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington streets, is dedicated to the iconic trio, as it’s where they shot the cover for their second album “Paul’s Boutique.”
East River Park Amphitheater, East River Promenade
The former East River Park Amphitheater in the Lower East Side was featured in the final concert scene of the 1983 hip-hop movie “Wild Style.”
Run-D.M.C. JMJ WAY
The street sign at the intersection of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue in Queens was named for the iconic rap group Run-D.M.C in 2009. According to McCarthy, it was the first NYC street named for a hip-hop artist.
Wu-Tang Clan District
The Wu-Tang Clan put the borough of Staten Island on the map in the 1990s. In 2019, they were officially honored with their own “Wu-Tang Clan District” in the borough at the corner of Targee Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. It includes a street sign and a large, spray-painted mural nearby.