Last week, Palmetto Playground in Brooklyn Heights was renamed Adam Yauch Park in honor of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who passed away last May 4. Yauch grew up just a few blocks away from the small neighborhood playground and frequented it as a young boy. Yauch’s parents, Noel and Frances, attended the ceremony and noted that, when raising Adam, “The whole idea was we were going to introduce him to music and make him love it all his life. Well, we succeeded. He loved music all his life, but he did it on his own terms.” Beastie Boy Adam Horowitz also spoke at the ceremony, saying, “It’s fitting that we’re here today to dedicate a playground to Adam Yauch because like the Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys is for the children. I was trying to think of what to say today, and I was thinking what it means to be a New York kid: People come to New York to be themselves, to express themselves and to be who they want to be.”
It was a beautiful and fitting tribute to a person who represented Brooklyn at its best: unique, innovative, aware of its past yet always looking to the future, and just a little bit crazy. But so it also got me thinking about all the other parks and plazas, bridges and streets named after famous Brooklynites past and present. Many of the people who were honored this way have faded from our collective memory, not because they weren’t important contributors to this borough’s past and present, but because, well, time makes everything fuzzy and almost nobody has a good head for history anymore. In any case, here’s a little rundown of some of the more notable namesakes of Brooklyn landmarks. But first, a few more words from Ad-Rock about MCA: “I’d like to thank the New York Parks Department and the people of Brooklyn for honoring my friend and brother, and recognizing how cool it is to have an Adam Yauch park for other crazy New York kids.” Crazy New York kids are the best kind of kids.