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Manhattan corner featured on Paul’s Boutique cover to be renamed “Beastie Boys Square”

Efforts to honor the trio by re-dubbing the corner of Ludlow and Rivington on the Lower East Side have been ongoing for nearly a decade.

July 18, 2022
Manhattan corner featured on <i>Paul’s Boutique</i> cover to be renamed “Beastie Boys Square” The corner of Ludlow Street and Rivington Street on the cover of Paul’s Boutique (1989) and today.   Wikimedia Commons / Google Street View

The New York City Council have approved an application to rename the corner of Ludlow Street and Rivington Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan “Beastie Boys Square.” Efforts to pay homage to the long-running rap trio in that location — where the cover photo of their critically acclaimed 1989 album Paul’s Boutique was taken — since shortly after the death of one of their founding members, Adam “MCA” Yauch, in 2012.

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In 2014, Manhattan Community Board 3 turned down the proposal due to lack of community support for the petition created by Leroy McCarthy, who had successfully campaigned to designate a green space in Brooklyn Heights Adam Yauch Park and later got a Beastie Boys mural installed at the Ludlow and Rivington intersection — still there today, in its third iteration. (In the years since, McCarthy has also succeeded in dedicating blocks in Queens and Long Island to A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, respectively.)

The efforts to rename the intersection have continued in the eight-and-a-half years since the original proposal’s rejection, with vocal proponents including local City Council member Christopher Marte. “As many of us know, once the Beastie Boys hit the scene, it really changed the hip-hop game,” Marte told PIX11 after the council’s vote last week. “I see it as a celebration. A celebration for the Lower East Side, a celebration for hip-hop and especially a celebration for our community who has been organizing for a really long time to make this happen.” The bill to install the “Beastie Boys Square” street sign now awaits Mayor Eric Adams’ signature.

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The story behind the cover of Paul’s Boutique — an album known for the Dust Brothers’ groundbreaking use of layered sampling for its instrumentals — also involves a renaming of sorts. Paul’s Boutique was a made-up store created by the Beasties, who were all born and raised in New York but lived in L.A. during the record’s recording. The “Paul’s Boutique” sign in the iconic image was hung specially for the shoot below the sign for Lee’s Sportswear, the actual store that occupied the intersection’s southeast corner at the time. The space now hosts a gourmet wrap restaurant called Wolfnights.

Manhattan corner featured on Paul’s Boutique cover to be renamed “Beastie Boys Square”