Tribeca corner named for Argentinian rocker

The music blogger Alex Smith, whose website, Flaming Pablum, has been a historical resource for us before, sent word that the corner of Cortlandt Alley and Walker was being renamed yesterday for Charly Garcia, the Argentine singer-songwriter considered one of the most important and avant-garde figures of Latin American music. And it was a huge scene! These are his pictures.

This is all a deep-dive for me, since I had never heard of Garcia, so I am deferring to Smith to give us the story. He was kind enough to email a primer. If you want even more of the history, see his posts here, here and here. And it will not be a waste of time to watch the 5-minute video on graffiti artist Richard Hambleton, below.

Here’s the deal: Charly Garcia is still alive [I asked since I thought it was NYC policy to not name streets after living people]; he is now 72 and was not at the event. His connection to Tribeca is tenuous at best — he never lived here or did anything here other than to take one picture here somewhere around 1983. But that image, Smith argues, is on a level with the Abbey Road cover image, at least in Latin America. So here goes:

Garcia is a huge rock star in Argentina and throughout Latin America. In the early ’80s, he came to New York City to record at Electric Lady Studios on West 8th Street. While doing so, he was staying in an apartment on Waverly Place. One day, during his time recording the album, he went out for a walk with a photographer. By this point in the proceedings, he’d already picked out a name for this album and an image. But, in walking around Tribeca, he came across a striking swathe of graffiti and had his picture taken under the cryptic legend “Modern Clix.” So enamored was he of this, that he scrapped his original idea and re-titled his impending record CLICS MODERNOS, using that photo as the album cover art. [The album was released in 1983.]

In time, that album became a HUGE phenomenon in Latin American rock/pop circles.

But wait…there’s more!

The graffiti Charly posed in front of was actually a combination of three images:
1. The largest is one of famed street-artist Richard Hambleton’s “Shadowmen,” which used to appear all over lower Manhattan.
2. The tag next to that was from renowned graffiti artist Zephyr.
3. The words “Modern Clix” came from the name of a Lower East Side punk band of the same name, lead by a gent named Fran Powers. Powers no doubt added that tag to the wall.

Back in 2021, I spotted a photograph shared on Facebook by a tourist named Bo G. Ericsson who’d snapped the image in about 1983 — it was a long shot of Cortlandt Alley, looking south. Sure enough, at the intersection of Walker Street, I spotted the same graffiti that adorns Charly’s album. I posted it on my blog.

In short order, I got a note from an Argentine writer/filmmaker named Inaki Rojas who was thrilled that I’d pinpointed the exact location of the original graffiti — drawing a parallel to it being as iconic a landmark as, say, Abbey Road.

Inaki started piecing together a documentary series on the web about it, and word started to spread — to the point where people were making pilgrimages to the very spot. This all spurred one Mariano Cabrera to petition the city to get the corner commemorated on the 40th anniversary of its original release by erecting a plaque and re-christening the corner the CHARLY GARCIA CORNER.

Phew… that’s more or less the back-story.



  1. So interesting – Thanks for sharing!

  2. We tried to save that graffiti. To no avail. The owners of tthat building in the steam punk alley wanted the wall repaired and painted over. Now even Cortlandt Alley is upscale and gentrified.

  3. So many superlatives in the piece! The whole thing almost sounds like a spoof. Charly Garcia? Cortlandt Alley has mysteriously been gentrified and appropriated by the social media set for years, like the selfie spot in Dumbo, an Instagram must.
    While across Walker Street, towards Canal, under the perennial
    scaffolding, still a homeless shelter, the street urine soaked and reeks of pot and other waste, waiting to be discovered.

  4. This is exactly the kind of soft-headed mismanagement ruining New York. The CB objects on principle to a street renaming for a real Tribeca booster in Robert Deniro and makes an exception for some nobody with no connection to Tribeca.

  5. Wow, whole lot of anger here. That’s a shame. It should be remembered that there is a world outside of New York City, and I’m pretty certain that, at absolutely no point in his distinguished career, did Charly Garcia ever intend to imply or try to assert that he was from — or of — NYC. He was indisputably enamored with our lovely city, and took pains to come here (without any major label support) to record at Electric Lady on his own dime. He felt a kinship with the energy of New York City and wanted to tap into it, so to speak. This isn’t a recent “social media” thing either — this was 1983. He never claimed to be a New Yorker.

    While many folks here in the States are entirely unfamiliar with the man — as I was until fairly recently — he is widely considered an influential artist not just in his native Argentina, but throughout Latin America writ large. You might not know his music, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he has millions of fans literally all over the world. I’d suggest that respect is due, but y’know …. you do you.

    • Alex, this is all well and good, but it’s still not a reason to have a street corner named after him in Tribeca. He is and was not a resident, his art isn’t tied to the area, and he isn’t well-known amongst the people who live here.

      There’s a British band called A Certain Ratio. They spent a short period of time in the 70/80s living in Tribeca, even writing a song called “Tribeca”. I and many other people really like them, and they were pretty influential as a Factory Records band. I would find it super weird if we named a corner after them.

      There are tons of extremely influential Tribecans (is that a word?) who have more of an influence on the area than this undoubtedly influential and talented person. So why him? Why here? Ken Jacobs, Edward Albee, Laurie Anderson, Richard Serra – none of them have anything named after them in this area and yet they have true name recognition for residents. Hell, I’d support naming a corner after Bob Townley or Blossom Gelernter who helped raise a generation of Tribeca kids (myself included).

      • Elizabeth….

        1. There’s a big statue of Christopher Columbus on the Upper West Side. He was from Italy, as I recall.

        2. There’s a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi in Washington Square Park. He, too, was from Italy.

        3. There’s a giant statue of Hans Christian Anderson — he was from Denmark, don’tcha know — in Central Park.

        4. There’s a statue of Peter Pan in Carl Schurz Park… he was from Neverland, not Yorkville.

        5. Balto the Arctic Sled Dog is also immortalized in sculpture in Central Park. Pretty sure he wasn’t from New York.

        6. There’s a heroic statue of Joan of Arc in Hudson Yards. Pretty sure she was from France, but I’ll let you look that up.

        7. There’s a big statue of Atlas in Rockefeller Center. His home address, I believe, was Mount Olympus.

        8. There’s a statue of Lenin on the Lower East Side. He was Russian, or so I’ve read.

        9. Scottish Poet Robert Burns and William Shakespeare are also both in Central Park, … despite neither of them being from Manhattan.

        Your point is moot.

  6. Please let’s not promote and glorify vandalism. People can graffiti on their own walls if they wish (codes permitting).

  7. Below are the Manhattan CB1 street co-naming guidelines. What is the “strong argument” that Charly Garcia “had an extraordinary and highly acclaimed accomplishment or involvement for the public good linked to MCD1”?


    “Manhattan Community District 1 (MCD1) is unique given its narrow street grid, historical street names, and history of human loss. In order to fully respect our district’s history, Community Board 1 (CB1) sets standards and reviews applications for street co-naming with stringency and great care. These guidelines are meant to ensure that the honor of co-naming is available for future generations of honorees and that the selected honorees will be considered significant by future generations. Given these issues, we strongly encourage applicants to fully consider other ways to memorialize those who they believe deserve to be honored in MCD1

    “CB1 is open to considering efforts, at the applicant’s expense, to display a plaque or other commemoration that describes a proposed honoree’s community contributions and significance on a building, sidewalk, lamp post or other appropriate space or structure in our district. An application for an individual, an organization or an historic event that has already received a street co-naming within the City of New York (NYC) or has already been named on, or qualifies to be named on, a public memorial within MCD1 is strongly discouraged from applying to co-name a street. […]

    Prospective honoree must:
    1. Have been deceased for at least 20 years;
    2. Have been a person of great significance to NYC, a key person in an event of historical note* that occurred in NYC or have brought about significant changes through their twenty or more years of community involvement in Manhattan Community District 1 (MCD1); and
    3. Have the reason for his/her/their selection be closely associated with the proposed street and block/corner being proposed for co-naming.
    *an individual whose death occurred under extraordinary circumstances of crime, accident, disease or a societal problem and that death led to a greater awareness within society of that issue. Alternatively, a person that helped to solve that problem/issue may be considered.

    A prospective honoree must be a nonprofit organization that
    1. has demonstrated an extraordinary and continuous commitment of at least 30 years that has benefited the community and/or community members in MCD1; and
    2. is currently located on the street and block proposed for co-naming or has a very significant association with the street and block proposed for co-naming.

    “Historic Events/Places
    A prospective honoree must be:
    1. an historic event/place that is recognized as significant by a historical society or other appropriate group; and
    2. mentioned in at least one major film, book, and/or international news story; and
    3. identified on a widely available map at or near the proposed co-naming location.

    The Board may, at its discretion, grant a naming that does not clearly fall into any of the three categories. However, the applicant must provide a strong argument that the proposed honoree had an extraordinary and highly acclaimed accomplishment or involvement for the public good linked to MCD1 and the location proposed for the co-naming. […]”

    • Maybe, James, and I realize this might be hard for you, because it involves an opinion contrary to your own, but just maybe you should consider that while you may never have heard of Charly Garcia, that he is WIDELY REVERED beyond the confines of TriBeCa, and that the album that boasted a photograph from that corner has been celebrated around the world.

      A single glance at Wikipedia confirms: Clics modernos is the second solo studio album by the Argentine musician Charly García, released on November 5, 1983 on SG Discos and Interdisc. It was a decisive work to consolidate the modern trends that would mark the profile of Argentine rock during the 1980s and saw García heralded as a “revolutionary” for his musical and lyrical boldness. It was ranked at number two in the Argentine edition of Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Albums of Argentine Rock.

      Billboard Magazine … an industry staple … called Garcia’s record one of the “greatest Latin albums of the past 50 years,” further extrapolating: If Clics Modernos only contained the haunting “Los Dinosaurios,” which became a cry from the ashes of Argentina’s devastation by the military dictatorship, it would be enough. But the album, which includes more of Garcia’s best songs, would change the sound of Argentine music. Recorded in New York with Clash engineer Joe Blaney, the recording brought synthesizers and dance beats to Garcia’s emotional, socially conscious piano rock.

      It’s an accomplishment. He’s earned it. What’s your grievance? (beyond possibly a myopic xenophobe, `cos that’s the impression you’re creating).

      • If he is “WIDELY REVERED beyond the confines of TriBeCa,” then perhaps the street named for him should be located somewhere beyond the confines of Tribeca, like in South America. He has nothing to do with Tribeca, and certainly far less than someone like Robert De Niro, for whom no similar exception was made.

        • James, this is not a location issue, this is ART, LOVE, PASSION, the whole AMERICA ( North, Central and South), a talented and well recognized artist in the whole world, making people happier. Spread the love, you will happier too! Thank you for spending your time in this dialog. We can disagree in our concepts, but Charly Garcia is already an idol, with or without your Tribeca Corner…now it’s a little bit our too. Don’t worry! The corner will be more famous and well know than ever.

    • Charly also sounds like a real gem in his personal life. What’s your point?

      From 2000:

      “Eccentric Argentine pop star Charly Garcia, jailed over the weekend for skipping a court hearing, is in good spirits and has even performed for some of his fellow inmates, his assistant said on Monday, as reported by Reuters. Garcia was arrested on Saturday after failing to show up in court to answer charges that he and a bodyguard beat up a newspaper photographer outside a bar last month. …”

      From 2007

      “Kabusacki states that [in 2007] Charly García was excited to chat and share ideas with Björk. However, the artist seemed busy chatting with her own group of friends, paying little attention to the Argentine idol .

      ” ‘It was already about three in the morning. Björk goal to talk to the Icelandic woman next to her and Charly in front of her looking at her, trying to get her attention and Björk didn’t give her a ball,’ said Kabusacki. Thus, he added that soon the Argentine lost his patience when he was ignored.

      ” Apparently, Charly would have spoken directly to the artist and said: ‘I have perfect pitch.’ Björk would have reacted without much interest and just replied, ‘Oh, really?’ After this, Charly lost his patience and with a knife he broke the glass of champagne that Björk was holding .

      “ ‘You don’t even reach my heels,’ Charly Garcia would have said to Björk after her act. After this, the artist would have been paralyzed without knowing what to do or how to respond to the Argentine’s action. Kabusacki apologized and security quickly arrived, so they had to leave. […]”

      From 2008:

      “Once again, Argentinean singer Charly García is in trouble. The musician was detained after two Colombian actors accused him of aggression –claiming Garcia hit them with his guitar during a concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

      “The incident took place last Thursday evening in a bar in Buenos Aires. While in concert, 56-year-old García got off the stage and supposedly used his guitar as a weapon and hit the two actors –both of whom are living in that country because they are under contract to work with an Argentinean producer.

      “The ‘Estoy verde’ singer was detained and held in custody for four hours. It’s still unknown why the singer behaved so violently. Also in the to-be-revealed category: the names of the actors who are thought to be very popular.”

  8. Heh. Fair enough — well, these guys are both hot-tempered artists, what ya gonna do? In any case, I don’t really share your opinion that DeNiro is being somehow shortchanged just because a solitary corner in TriBeCa went to someone other than him. There’s room for everyone. He seems to be doing just fine.

  9. Followed this story with great interest, in turn it opened a lot of doors and old memories. While I can understand a street naming might be overkill, the plaque is very in order. The album cover alone tells a whole lot of stories, of a very very different NYC. This image is so seeped in history. I’m glad there are people still around who get it and know why this is important. Good story Alex