1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the 'birthplace of hip-hop,' saved by government loan
Imperiled by a potential sale from private investors, 1520 Sedgwick Ave., often labeled the "birthplace of hip-hop," has been saved by a $5.6-million loan from the city of New York's New Housing Marketplace plan, a program intended to aid multifamily residences undergoing financial and physical duress.
In the early 1970s, a series of D.J. Kool Herc-hosted parties in the South Bronx building's community center helped kick-start the then-nascent genre, when Herc discovered that isolating classic soul and funk drum breaks allowed the proper space and swing for dancers to break-dance and the first MCs to rap.
Nearly 40 years later, the legendary Jamaican-born DJ teamed up with New York Sen. Charles Schumer to help protect the building from what Schumer told the New York Times was "the birthplace of predatory equity... It’s a message to those owners or lenders who want to buy these buildings at exorbitant rates with the only purpose of kicking the tenants out and raising the rents.”
In recent years, tenants had reportedly complained that the apartment tower had fallen into a level of disrepair that resembled Melle Mel's description of the South Bronx in "The Message." According to claims from the residents, it was roach infested, garbage was never picked up, and the floors were never cleaned. However, according to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the plan has earmarked $3 million of the funds for repairs to the dilapidated apartment building.
In response, Herc triumphantly declared to the New York Times that it was “a great moment for 1520 Sedgwick Avenue...This is a historic site.This is where hip-hop comes from. This is it.”
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Flier for an early Kool Herc party in the Bronx. Credit: courtesy Luis Cedeno.