Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to find and admire street art, especially around New York City. Nevertheless, there’s something special about seeing a piece in person, standing where the artist stood, noting how the work adds to or detracts from its surroundings. So, without further ado, here are our five favorite places for spotting street art in NYC. By Jessica Allen.
Since its founding in 2014, the 100 Gates Project has connected artists and business owners, who collaborate on an original mural, which is then painted on the business’s roll-down gate. Among the goals of the project are to provide jobs for artists, deter vandalism, support public art, and pretty up the Lower East Side. The formula proved so successful that new murals are coming to East Harlem and Staten Island this year. A helpful map lets you design your own tour, all the better to find and photograph work by Shantell Martin x FAUST, Buff Monster, Kim Sillen (whose work is pictured), and more.
Troutman Street at St. Nicholas Avenue
The streets around Troutman and St. Nicholas in Bushwick, Brooklyn, have become one of the world’s foremost galleries of street art, thanks to local Joe Ficalora. Grieving over the death of a parent, heartbroken about the violence and vandalism that plagued the neighborhood where he was born and continued to live and work, Ficalora typed “street art” into Google and emailed some people whose pieces he admired—the rest, as they say, is history. Everyone who’s anyone has, or has had, work on these walls. If you only make it to one spot on this list, make it here.
Graffiti Hall of Fame
Jackie Robinson Educational Complex
1573 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10029
If tags are your thing, then you’ll need to hop the 6 train to the Graffiti Hall of Fame at the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex. Founded almost 40 years ago, at a time when being a street artist could get you arrested, beaten, or worse, the Graffiti Hall of Fame gave artists a safe place to do their work. Today it’s a monument to an art form whose commercialization and glamorization have sometimes overshadowed its origins as a way of saying, simply, “I was here.” The pieces, and the artists, including Bronx-based TATS CRU, remain refreshingly old-school.
The High Line
Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street,
between 10th and 12th Avenues
New York, NY
The High Line has become a massive success story for the city, no doubt, but lots was lost in the transformation of abandoned railroad tracks into a gorgeous urban park, including tons of street art. While much was torn down or white-washed, two huge pieces by REVS and COST remain. These days the Friends of the High Line maintain an excellent artist residency program, inviting major artists like JR (whose work is pictured), Ed Ruscha, Carol Bove, and Henry Taylor to contribute murals, installations, sculpture, and other pieces.
30th Avenue and 12th Street
Queens, NY 11102
Mark your calendars: the eighth annual Welling Court Mural Project takes place on Saturday, June 10. Plenty of well-known and up-and-coming artists will be on hand throwing up new work and freshening up old pieces on the streets around 30th Avenue and 12th Street, in Astoria. The project was created as a way of bringing beauty and fostering community to this mixed-use neighborhood, and has attracted the participation of such luminaries as Chris Stain, Swoon, Hellbent, and Joe Iurato (whose work is pictured). Not only will you get to see varied designs here, but you’ll get to see varied media as well, from stickers to wheatpastes to stencils.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.