José A. Alvarado Jr.

Photographer
 
Location: New York City, New York
Nationality: Puerto Rican American
Biography: José A. Alvarado Jr. is a Puerto Rican photographer dedicated to documenting class inequality, civic engagement, and contemporary issues in Puerto Rico and New York City. He works primarily in long-form storytelling, using visual imagery... MORE
News
for NPR: 50 years ago, teenagers partied in the Bronx — and gave rise to hip-hop
josé a. alvarado jr.
Jul 14, 2023
Summary
A section of Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, N.Y. was renamed Hip Hop Boulevard in 2016, in recognition of the apartment building where the music is said to have been born.
When Jerry Leader was growing up, he made himself a toy set of DJ equipment.  

Two empty cereal boxes were the turntables. For the records, he cut circles out of cardboard. The needle, a plastic spoon. He would sing to himself, "mixing" the tracks.  

Leader grew up in an 18-story apartment building in the Bronx, New York City, during the 1970s and 1980s, with his parents and eight siblings. The address was 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. It's a tall, unremarkable high-rise overlooking an expressway.  

But he says the building, and his unit, were always filled with music.  

"I wouldn't pick another place in the world to have a childhood life. It was beautiful," says Leader, who is now 56. "My whole life revolved around music."  

It was also home to an innovative young DJ who Jerry Leader often saw in performance. That DJ rocked a modest party for fellow teenagers on Aug. 11, 1973 in a small community room on the first floor; he was 18 at the time.  

That event is now commonly celebrated as the birth of hip-hop.

Photographed for NPR, with words by Kat Lonsdorf, Juana Summers, Patrick Jarenwattananon50 years ago, teenagers partied in the Bronx — and gave rise to hip-hop
In August 1973, an 18-year-old DJ Kool Herc played his sister's back-to-school fundraiser in the rec room of their apartment building. But he and his friends sparked something much bigger.
Npr.org
LinkedIn Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
873

Also by José A. Alvarado Jr. —

News

for The New Yorker: The Haunted Juror

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Long Island, New York
News

for Bloomberg Originals:

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Guayana
News

for Bloomberg: Guyana Is Trying to Keep Its Oil Blessing From Becoming a Curse

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Georgetown, Guayana
News

for The New York Times: Audit Finds Fatal Lapses in Mental Health Program Meant to Curb Violence

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for The Wall Street Journal: America’s Biggest Bank Is Growing the Old-Fashioned Way: Branches

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
Media

for The New York Times: The Young Black Conservative Who Grew Up With, and Rejects, D.E.I.

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
Media

for The New York Times: How Rikers Island Became New York’s Largest Mental Institution

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Rikers Island
News

for The New York Times: This Venezuelan Family Won Asylum. Days Later, They Lost It.

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for Southern Foodways Alliance: Offsides Fowl

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for Anglers Journal: End of an Era

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Hancock, New York
News

for Bloomberg: ‘Market’s Wrong, I’m Not’: Mike Mayo Loves Playing a Provocateur

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for Brooklyn Vegan: Glassjaw celebrated 30 years with career-spanning Brooklyn shows

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
Media

for The New York Times: Kendra’s Law Was Meant to Prevent Violence. It Failed Hundreds of Times.

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for The New York Times: A New Push to Improve Mental Health Care for Homeless New Yorkers

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for Bloomberg: The Other Side of Greenwich: Hunger Among the Hedge Funds

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Greenwich, Connecticut
News

for CULTURED Magazine: At 25, Artist Oscar yi Hou Has Already Had a Solo Museum Show—And Written a Memoir

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Brooklyn, New York City
Media

TIME’s Top 100 Photos of 2023

José A. Alvarado Jr.
News

for The New York Times: Behind 94 Acts of Shocking Violence, Years of Glaring Mistakes

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York City
News

for The New Yorker: What Will It Take to Win Brooklyn’s First Majority-Asian District?

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for The New York Times: New York Is Rebounding for the Rich. Nearly Everyone Else Is Struggling.

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
News

for The New Yorker: A Journey from Homelessness to a Room of One’s Own

José A. Alvarado Jr. / New York, New York
Media

for The New York Times: His Job Helping Drug Users Is Illegal. He Says He Does It to Save Lives.

José A. Alvarado Jr. / East Harlem
News

for NPR: As NYC limits access to migrants and asylum seekers, many are left homeless

José A. Alvarado Jr. / Brooklyn, New York City
Media

for The New York Times: Vital Places of Refuge in the Bronx, Community Gardens Gain Recognition

José A. Alvarado Jr. / The Bronx, City of New York
for NPR: 50 years ago, teenagers partied in the Bronx — and gave rise to hip-hop by José A. Alvarado Jr.
Sign-up for
For more access