Add this to the ways the world improved in 2018: The New York City Council voted 48-0 last week to co-name streets after three notable musical acts: Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace), the Wu-Tang Clan, and Woody Guthrie.
Pending a final sign-off from mayor Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn block in Bed-Stuy on St. James Place between Fulton Street and Gates Avenue—where Notorious B.I.G. grew up—will be renamed Christopher Wallace Way. In Staten Island, hometown of the Wu-Tang Clan, part of the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Street will be called Wu-Tang Clan District. And in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, Mermaid Avenue between West 35th and West 36th streets will be called Woody Guthrie Way. The singer lived there with his wife in the 1940s.
“I’m happy that NYC officials are finally giving the city’s indigenous ‘Hip Hop’ music the respect and recognition that it deserves,” local-culture advocate LeRoy McCarthy, who led the B.I.G. and Wu-Tang effort, told Gothamist. “It took a long time and lots of hard-work to advance the Christopher Wallace Way & Wu-Tang Clan District street co-naming, but ya know what, Hip Hop Don’t Stop.”
McCarthy has also been involved in the co-naming of streets for A Tribe Called Quest’s Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor and Sugar Hill Records CEO Sylvia Robinson.
“Co-naming” streets—i.e. adding a street sign honoring a local figure—is common in New York. Requests start at the community board level, and are eventually brought before the City Council. This year, the council voted to co-name 164 streets. Honorees from 2017, mapped on the council’s website, included Bella Abzug, Jackie Robinson, and the US Coast Guard.