As far back as his 1994 debut album, the Notorious B.I.G. was celebrating his various triumphs over haters who scoffed at him and worked to undermine him. But rap superstardom is one measure of success, and civic honor is another entirely. Biggie Smalls not only proved polite society wrong, he has now been embraced by it.
The Brooklyn block Christopher Wallace grew up on was renamed in his honor today. The stretch of St. James Place between Gates Avenue and Fulton Street will now be known as Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace Way, largely thanks to an initiative by Brooklyn resident LeRoy McCarthy, a longtime movie location scout who also led the effort to have Wallace’s birthday officially designated Notorious B.I.G. Day in Brooklyn back in 2016. The newly rechristened street is near several murals in tribute to Biggie, including the famous “King Of New York” mural on Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street.
“Biggie is crying right now, tears of joy, seeing us all out here in the rain today,” New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo said during a ceremony this afternoon. Cumbo continued:
Brooklyn, New York, we have had challenges. During the time when Biggie created masterpieces, this neighborhood was redlined. People didn’t want to live here. People had moved out of the neighborhood. They had left us to die. But there were people that struggled, people that fought, and they made this the hottest place in the entire world. Now everybody in the world wants to come to Brooklyn.
But the reason why this street co-naming is important is the reason why everybody is coming to New York? They want to erase the history. They want to put up new cafes and boutiques and to push us out of our history. That’s why this sign is important today, so that the history of why this place is what it is is told to our children and to our children’s children. So that the struggle of Brooklyn continues to be told again and again and again. So that when new people come to our community, don’t get it twisted and don’t forget, we made this borough what it is today. We created this borough.
Check out the street sign and watch the ceremony below.