It was a great day in Harlem. Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and many other jazz greats gathered on a stoop on 126th St. in 1958 to be photographed together by Art Kane. There were 57 musicians in all.

"At the time as we know it, the largest gathering of musicians for one photo," said Jonathan Rheingold, the curator of "Hip Hop's Greatest Day," a photo exhibition inside the rotunda at City Hall.

The exhibit tells the story of a photo shoot in 1998 for XXL Magazine, which set out to recreate the stoop scene, but instead feature hip-hop stars. Rheingold was part of the team charged with assembling the group of artists.

What You Need To Know

  • A photo exhibition at City Hall celebrates an iconic 1998 photo taken by Gordon Parks in Harlem that featured 177 hip-hop artists
  • Among those in the photo were Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Common, Da Brat, Fat Joe, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, Mos Def and Questlove
  • The gathering of rappers was for the cover of XXL magazine, paying tribute to Art Kane's 1958 jazz photo for Esquire known as "A Great Day in Harlem"
  • The photos are scheduled to be on display at City Hall through June

The former executive publisher and a co-founder of XXL had a camera on the day of the 1998 shoot, even though he typically worked on the business side of the publication. He took a bunch of photos of the artists taking part in the historic day.

"Several years ago I reached out to other individuals I knew who had taken photos and aggregated a behind-the-scenes archive, if you will, of the making of that day and of that photo," Rheingold said.

Rheingold noted that one of the photographers was Johanna Fiore, Gordon Parks' business manager, trusted right hand and his personal photographer. 

The shoot itself was led by legendary photographer and film director Gordon Parks, who Rheingold says was not necessarily a hip-hop fan, but was excited to work with the artists there.

"He understood the importance of this opportunity. And Sheena Lester, who was the editor-in-chief at the time, really convinced him that there was really no other photographer that one could possibly think of that would be more suitable to capture such an amazing moment than him, and he took it on," Rheingold said. 

There were 177 artists in the iconic photo. Fat Joe, Slick Rick, Da Brat, Common, Busta Rhymes and Questlove were all there.

Rheingold, who also founded iD8 Entertainment, says all the photos from that day didn't really have a home, so it's great to seen them displayed at City Hall.

"We are so thrilled to have the mayor's office and Department of Cultural Affairs really give us a venue to share this with the rest of the city," Rheingold said.

As Rheingold says, "Hip-hop is part of the fabric of New York history, so of course it belongs in City Hall."