Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys is one of the greatest albums of all time. There ya go. Let’s get that out of the way from the top.
There’s not really that much more to bring to the table on the subject, but I spied a photo on Flickr recently that made me want to re-address it.
The iconic cover photograph of the Beasties’ second LP, you will doubtlessly remember, is a fish-eye, gatefold panorama of the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington Streets on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I’m assuming it was taken at some point -- given the recording and release dates of the album — between 1988 and 1989. Bizarrely, I’m actually now friends with the gent who took the photo, so I’ll fly it by him.
In any case, in the late 80’s, this particular plot of Manhattan had quite a different vibe that it does today (i.e. there were fewer brunch-friendly bistros, high-end haberdasheries and hoighty-toighty hotels). It was more of an actual neighborhood than the nightlife-destination it has since become.
Essentially, this is the same strip featured on the cover, albeit looking in the opposite direction, snapped from the northwest corner of Orchard and Rivington looking east (towards Ludlow).
This big clue is the "BAR RESTAURANT” sign on the left, just steps before that arched doorway, which both appear on the front of Paul’s Boutique towards the vanishing point.
At the time Stu Brown’s photo was taken, of course, Paul’s Boutique — nor its album cover — officially existed, so it’s just a coincidence that he decided to take this particular shot.
Check out the rest of Stu’s photos here — there are some good ones buried within.