Between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street, running parallel to Malcolm X Boulevard, is the block where Buggin Out’s shoes got smudged by a gentrifier, Radio Raheem delivered his Love and Hate monologue, and Sal’s Famous Pizzeria burned to the ground.
This block of Stuyvesant in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood honors Spike Lee’s seminal 1989 film, Do the Right Thing. Made official in July 2015, just a year late for the film’s 25th anniversary, Do the Right Thing Way is the first time a work of art was used as a secondary street name.
Jewish and Italian families flocked to Bed-Stuy after the completion of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1907, and African-American families immigrated to the neighborhood from the Caribbean, the American South, and an overcrowded Harlem in the 1930s. The brownstones and townhouses that were built for the expanding middle class around 1900 are shown through the yellow filter Lee used to signify the overwhelming heat of the Brooklyn summer.
Lee spent eight weeks shooting the film there in 1988, and most of Do the Right Thing was shot on the residential block—including Mookie’s home on 173 Stuyvesant and the empty lot on the corner of Lexington and Stuyvesant where the studio built Sal’s (the building was torn down after filming).
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Manhattan may have name-brand recognition and Brooklyn a certain cache, but Queens is the city’s largest and most diverse borough. Join us, October 4-7, to dig into Queens’ rich neighborhood life.