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Hudson Heights Neighbors Not Pleased After Teens’ Mural Was Painted Over

Fresh Youth Initiatives Mural Was Whitewashed For Liam Neeson Movie
Fort Washington Avenue Mural

This mural on Fort Washington Avenue in Hudson Heights was painted over for the filming of a Liam Neeson movie. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some neighbors in Upper Manhattan are upset with Liam Neeson’s new movie – but not because they’ve seen it.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the neighbors are furious after a much-admired mural was painted over during filming.

As local residents around Fort Washington Avenue walk past the Hilltop Pharmacy at 187th Street, there is a feeling of loss.

“It’ been here the whole time since I’ve lived here,” said Sandy Galawanji. “It was a part of the neighborhood.”

The mural was painted by local teens with the group Fresh Youth Initiatives in 2010. It pays tribute to the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” and the cover of the album “Abbey Road,” with the images of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr replaced by colorful Keith Haring-style figures.

A 1 1/2-minute video uploaded to the site Vimeo documented the creation of the mural, showing an enthusiastic group of teens applying brushstrokes to create the image.

“I actually enjoyed the mural. It made the block sort of special,” said neighbor George Herman. “And I think they painted over it to make a movie.”

Indeed they did. The movie, set to be released next year and starring Liam Neeson, is called “A Walk among the Tombstones.” Producers thought the mural did not fit the 1991 period of the film.

The cover-up, or paint-over, was done with the sanction of the pharmacy owner, who said the wall was in poor condition.

“It had to be repaired,” said Amy Sidney. “It was a great time to have a fresh coat of paint put up.”

Fresh Youth Initiatives has nine such murals in the area. Executive director Steve Ramos was not pleased with the choice to paint over the one at Hilltop Pharmacy.

“We never expected anything we put up in the community to beautify it, to be taken down,” he said.

But the organization is satisfied with the film company’s response.

“A $2,000 donation has been made to the Fresh Youth Initiatives for a new mural,” film unit publicist Amy Johnson said in a statement.

The movie, which has finished its shooting in the Hudson Heights area, is scheduled for release next year.

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