A Beastie Boys guide to New York City

A Beastie Boys guide to New York City

(Credit: Far Out / Charlie Llewellin / PXHere / Camila Fernández)

Travel Sun 15 Jan 2023 13:30 GMT

First, shout out to Brooklyn. No Beastie Boys New York City tour is complete without hitting Brooklyn. Adam Yauch may have been the only true Brooklynite of the three (Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond were Manhattan kids), but for most of 30 years, Brooklyn was the beating heart at the center of the Beastie Boys experience.

Just take a trip through their catalog to find out for yourself. MCA has a stronghold there in ‘Brass Monkey’. It’s the titular destination in No Sleep ’til Brooklyn. It’s where you can pick your pocket in ‘Shadrach’. Take the D train to get there on your way to Coney Island at ‘B-Boy Bouillabaisse’. But even with these stops in mind, Brooklyn is just the beginning of the Beastie Boys’ guide to New York City.

If you want a somewhat comprehensive list of destinations, you can check out the back page of the Beastie Boys Book, which lists easily over 100 different spots in Manhattan and Brooklyn. You’ll get everything from the approximate locations where the three band members have lived at various times to quirky joke spots like ‘Butthole Surfers corner’ off E 5th Street and ‘Dick in a Box storage’, which exists somewhere off the map in New Jersey.

In many ways, the Beastie Boys were the most New York of all the bands. Just by the sheer number of chants and lyrical names given to the five boroughs, the Beasties rank near the top tier. But also in terms of stylistic diversity, the Beastie Boys represented the best of what New York had to offer, from the early days of hardcore punk to the golden age of hip hop and everything in between.

Here are some quick hits for those of you who are curious: Yauch’s castle was in Brooklyn Heights, the same neighborhood where he grew up. While you’re there, check out Adam Yauch Park on State Street. Paul’s Boutique is on the corner of Ludlow and Rivington on the Lower East Side, now replaced by a mural of the trio.

For some more in-depth analysis, let’s turn to the group’s texts. If you want to hang out with Lucy from ‘She’s Crafty, 8th and 42nd is just off Times Square, overlooking the Port Authority Bus Terminal. “The Sound of Science” mentions Shea Stadium (Flushing Meadows in Queens) and the Palladium (East 14th Street in Manhattan), though both are now demolished, with the Palladium being replaced by dorm rooms for New York University.

Speaking of dorm rooms at NYU, the dorm room where Rick Rubin started Def Jam Records was in Weinstein Hall just off 8th Street, about a five minute walk from Washington Square Park. Just north, on the corner of 11th Street and 5th Avenue, is where Ad-Rock lived when Paul’s Boutique was released. If you want to see the apartment that Mike D and MCA shared in the year leading up to Licensed in Ill, it would be downtown near Bowrey on Chrystie Street. The same block now has a Buddhist temple, the same religion Yauch converted to as an adult.

If we’re talking about Bowrey, here’s where you can wash the window on ‘Johnny Ryall’. It’s also the street where you would have found CBGB’s, the club where the Beastie Boys played in their early days. If you find the right train, you can hop on the subway and arrive at Penn Station at 8th Street, as heard in ‘B-boys Makin’ With the Freak Freak’.

There are a host of other lyrical references from deeper in the band’s catalog. LeFrak City from ‘Shazam!’ is in Queens, ‘Murray’s Cheese Shop’ from ‘Oh Word?’ it’s still in Greenwich Village and the Albee Square Mall from ‘Hey Fuck You’ is still in downtown Brooklyn. “Brooklyn House of D(etention)” by “High Plains Drifter” is Atlantic Avenue, and if you have to do your errands on the train before you get to High Street Station like in “Root Down,” just know you have to jump in to get to Manhattan.

Though there are too many other references and locations to mention, we’ll end our brief tour with the Beastie’s loving shout-out to their hometown, “An Open Letter to NYC.” Almost the entire song is a long list of destinations, landmarks and people that make the city what it is. Just a tip: the one and nine runs from Manhattan to the Bronx, there are no more Blimpies on Montague Street, and the Fulton Street Mall still has some nice sneaker stores.

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