Heights rap fans fight to rename Squibb Park after Beastie Boy

Heights rap fans fight to rename Squibb Park after Beastie Boy
Community Newspaper Group / Eli Rosenberg

No sleep till … Brooklyn Heights music lovers rename a park to honor recently deceased Beastie Boy Adam Yauch.

That’s the mission of a group of Heights residents, who are demanding the city change the name of Squibb Park to pay tribute to MCA, a beloved rapper and native son who passed away on May 4 at the age of 47, rather than a 19th pharmaceutical innovator.

The Beastie backers, whose efforts began in the comments section of the Brooklyn Heights Blog, say it makes perfect sense to change the name of the tiny recreation area by the Promenade considering the monikers of other parks in the neighborhood.

“It would be a fitting tribute to name it after Brooklyn Heights native, musician, [and] humanitarian Adam Yauch,” supporters wrote on Facebook. “Adam Yauch Park sits directly across the street from the Harry Chapin Playground, which is also named after a great Brooklyn Heights resident, musician, and humanitarian.”

The group has garnered more than 450 “likes,” proving plenty of Heights music lovers support renaming the open space, which boasts a small skate park and will one day serve as the entryway for a bridge linking Brooklyn Heights with Brooklyn Bridge Park.

But other Squibb Park neighbors say it’s impossible to honor one community legend without dishonoring another: inventor and pharmaceutical pioneer Dr. Edward Robinson Squibb, who opened his first laboratory on the site of the green space.

“While it may be appropriate to honor Brooklyn Heights native son Adam Yauch, renaming Squibb Park may not be the right opportunity,” said Rob Perris, the district manager of Community Board 2.

Adam Yauch (right) was a musician and a humanitarian, according to supporters of the plan.

Yauch was born in the borough in 1964 and raised in Brooklyn Heights before attending Murrow High School in Midwood, helping found the Beastie Boys, and changing the course of modern music.

Squibb was born in Delaware in 1819 and served at Navy surgeon during the Mexican–American War before campaigning to make medicines more pure, setting up a lab in Brooklyn Heights, finding a better way to distill ether, and establishing the company that is now Bristiol-Myers Squibb before his death in 1900.

That’s a legacy that must be remembered, said Julie Golia, the public historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

“Honoring an emcee is catchy and interesting, but Brooklyn has a long history as a innovator in the pharmaceutical industry,” Golia said. “That may not sound sexy but it’s pretty significant in all of our lives.”

Squibb’s work kick-started the borough’s pharmaceutical industry and his creations helped a nation dealing with the physical ravages of the Civil War — but his creative output isn’t as cherished as MCA’s, according to some Promenade visitors.

“Pharmaceuticals?” said Brad Buehring when informed of Squibb’s legacy. “Doesn’t seem as important as what MCA contributed to the world.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

The rapper known as MCA grew up in Brooklyn Heights — all the more reason the skate park near the Promenade should bear his name, supporters say.
Community Newspaper Group / Andy Campbell