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 : Photo of hip-hop artists gathered on Harlem stoop

Color Group shot by Ben Osborne © iD8 Studios


Photo Installation Celebrates Iconic Moment When Hip-Hop’s Greatest Talents Gathered in Harlem for a Legendry Photo Shoot


Full size images are available here for download

NEW YORK – The New York City Mayor’s Office and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) have unveiled an installation of historical, never-before-seen photographs documenting what is known as “The Greatest Day in Hip-Hop History” in the City Hall Rotunda. The installation features legendary hip-hop figures including Rakim, Slick Rick, Fat Joe, Da Brat, E-40, Busta Rhymes, Reverend Run, Naughty By Nature, who gathered to participate in a photo shoot led by renowned Black photographer Gordon Parks to pay homage to Art Kane’s “A Great Day in Harlem.” The installation was made possible thanks to iD8 Studios, Musinart and RESPECT. magazine — The Photo Journal of Hip-Hop Culture.

The exhibition at City Hall features images that take viewers behind the scenes for “The Greatest Day in Hip-Hop History.” In 1998, hip-hop magazine XXL and their Editor-in-Chief Sheena Lester set out to remake Art Kane’s legendary 1958 Esquire magazine photo shoot, known as “A Great Day In Harlem," with hip-hop artists. Kane's image featured 57 of the greatest jazz musicians of the time gathered around the stoop at 17 West 126th street in Harlem. XXL were looking to pay homage to that iconic image by gathering hip-hop legends on the same stoop 40 years later. Renowned Black photographer Gordon Parks was recruited, and ultimately 177 rappers were assembled in Harlem. The photos remain as defining for hip-hop culture as the original photo shoot was for jazz.

: Photo of hip-hop artists gathered on Harlem stoop

Photograph by Art Kane – Courtesy @ Art Kane Archive –

“NYC has always been the place to be thanks to the artists and art forms that thrive here, and it's no coincidence that hip-hop and jazz - not one but TWO world-shaping artforms - developed right here in the greatest city on earth,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “As part of the Adams administration’s broader effort to showcase artwork in city buildings that better reflects the beauty and diversity of New Yorkers, this remarkable exhibition of ‘Hip-Hop's Greatest Day’ pays tribute to the artists who made New York the cradle of these two global artistic movements. I invite all New Yorkers to see the powerful images curated by our partners at Musinart, iD8 Studios and RESPECT. magazine right here in City Hall, and to relive the greatest day in hip-hop history.”

“In this one-of-a-kind exhibition, we share never-before-exhibited, behind-the-scenes images of the epic event, which gathered close to 200 influential rap artists that shaped what is considered to be one of hip-hop’s most important moments,” said Jonathan Rheingold, exhibit curator, co-founder of XXL and RESPECT.  and President of iD8 Studios and Musinart. “The ‘Hip-Hop’s Greatest Day’ installation at City Hall will transport you to the heart of rap history — to the stoops on 126th street in Harlem, where the unimaginable happened. As we pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of this epic event, I made it a mission to identify folks who were snap­ping photos on126th street that day and developed the largest archive of behind-the-scenes photos documenting that great day. This unique installation gives visitors a glimpse at the block that day through images that were captured by Parks’ protégé and right hand, Johanna Fiore, former SLAM and XXL editor Ben Osborne, and myself. Working on this exhibit has been a remarkable journey. We aimed to capture the essence of 'The Greatest Day in Hip-Hop History' and are thrilled that Mayor Adams and his staff have made such great efforts to acknowledge hip-hop culture’s impact and its birthplace of New York City — the greatest city in the world.”

For viewers inspired by the exhibition to learn more hip-hop history, the award-winning podcast series “The Greatest Day” is now available on Audible. It takes listeners through the beats, rhymes, and powerful message of the image that shattered the negative perceptions associated with Hip-Hop and celebrated an entire generation. This audio series was recently nominated for a NAACP Image Award. For more history about “Hip-Hop’s Greatest Day” visit

This installation is part of the Adams administration’s broader effort to bring more art into city buildings, showcasing the talents and histories of New Yorkers in the spaces that belong to them. To celebrate 50 years of hip-hop culture, Mayor Adams unveiled an imagery installation celebrating 50 years of hip-hop culture in the City Hall Rotunda. The installation captures posters and flyers from the early days of hip-hop, featuring legendary figures such as Run DMC, Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc, Salt-N-Pepa, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Donations were made possible thanks to the Universal Hip-hop Museum’s curators and historians, Pete Nice and Paradise Gray. Previously, an exhibition of photos of Alvin Ailey dancers was installed in XXX; artwork by artist Roy Nachum was installed in April 2023; an installation by artist Elena del Rivero was unveiled on Women’s History Day in March 2023; and additional installations are planned for other city buildings in the future.

Members of the public can visit the installation by joining a public tour of City Hall. The installation will be on view through June 2024.