Graffiti and Street Art in New York: 5 murals, tours and theme paths not to miss – among Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens – to discover a selection of the best New Yorker street art. Practical info, tips and cues to further explore.
Graffiti and Street Art in New York, a boundless and variegated offer.
It’s impossible to be able to gather in just one report all the itineraries and the theme tours, the new murals and the events dedicated neighborhood by neighborhood.
So I preferred to select and tell about the places and the paths I love thanks to their colors, message of the author and position and that I know personally, of course. Hopefully this list can be useful when planning your next journey to New York.
I can’t help but starting to talk about Street Art, Murals and Graffiti without mentioning those ones that up to now – after the Five Pointz destruction – are the two most beautiful New Yorker paths dedicated to the so called “street art”: The Bushwick Collective and Welling Court Mural Project.
Bushwick is a former working district in the north-east of Brooklyn, little far from the more popular Williamsburg.
· It takes about twenty minutes to reach the Jefferson Street stop through Line L of the subway leaving from Union Square. Until few years ago the whole area was off limits not only to tourists and visitors, but even to the law enforcement, then little by little things have changed thanks to the people of the district most of all.
The strongest impulse came from Joe Ficalora.
Joe was born in Bushwick, and in 1991 he saw his father dying here, shot during a gunfire in the street. Grown up, he committed himself in any way in order the whole area could become a safer place.
Convinced that the rebirth has to pass necessarily also by art and its most original expressions, Joe created The Bushwick Collective: it is a permanent street art exposition telling not only the great desire of renovation, but also the dreams, the stories, the projects the thoughts and hopes of an entire community.
Find here a detailed report about the history of Bushwick, about how to move and about the best path to follow.
For any update about the new murals or the events organized in the district, you can follow the project official Instagram account here.
Welling Court Mural Project is a project aiming to turn the whole area – the Welling Court one, the most ancient village in Astoria – into an exciting experience of public art.
In 2009 its residents – guided by Jonathan Ellis – decided unanimously to commit themselves in order to improve the aesthetics of the district, also pushed by the initiatives carried on by The Bushwick Collective.
The Welling Court Murals Project was officially opened in 2010 and still today it exhibits murals by over 150 artists coming from New York and from different countries in the world – among them Greg Lamarche and Queen Andrea.
To visit the Wellington Court Murals, take Line N or W of the subway as far as the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard stop. From there walk westwards in Astoria Boulevard for about 10-15 minutes as far as reaching 12th Street.
Within few blocks you’ll be able to admire an amazing explosion of murals by street artists coming from all over the world.
To stay up to date about the new murals or the events scheduled in the district you can follow the official Instagram account of the project here.
A unique experience in the New Yorker history and street art at the price of a subway ticket.
The Second Avenue Subway is actually an extension of the Q Line, wanted to make the Upper East Side more accessible and so lighten the traffic of the Lexington Ave subway line.
A project officially presented in 1920 and then made unfeasible over time due to the problems following the Great Depression first and the two World Wars’ ones then. After that it was resumed several times starting from the 1980s and then made finally working on January 1st, 2017.
Three new subway stops – 72nd, 86th, 96th – and a futuristic system of entrances in the respective stations enriched by the works of internationally renowned street artists of the caliber of Chuck Close, ViK Muniz and Jean Shin.
If you have not a lot of time in your hands, my tip is to focus on the first two stops – the most suggestive ones – so to enter the 72nd and go down to the 86th to admire artistic installations and murals. Then go back following the path backwards to your next destination.
The entrance of the 72nd Street subway stop is located at the crossroads with 2nd Ave.
There are really many murals throughout the USA dedicated to the unforgotten Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. He died, together with his own daughter Gianna and 7 more people, on January 26th 2020 in a helicopter crash near Calabasas in California.
I want to recommend those ones that in my opinion are the most beautiful murals in New York dedicated to its figures so during my latest Journey to the city I went to admire them personally.
The first one is located at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, little far from its entrance, at the crossroads on the right with Pacific Street. It is a work by the street artist Andaluz and dedicated to Kobe, Gianna and all the fatal crash victims.
The second one is in Chinatown, at the crossroads between Hester and Eldridge Street and it is entirely dedicated to Kobe and his daughter Gianna.
It is a work by Madsteez, a really good New Yorker street artist that I had the chance to meet right in Chinatown while he was finishing the last details of his mural.
A new mural “colors” and enriches the promenade of the High line, in the same place where previously the Berliner artist Dorothy Iannone painted “Our Liberties”, the three bare breasted Statues of Liberty with the quote to the lines of the Emma Lazarus poems engraved at the feet of the original Statue of Liberty in Liberty Island.
It’s The Baayfalls by the artist Jordan Casteel: he is famous for the portraits and the detailed facial expressions of its characters.
The mural is an enlarged version of his paint dated back to 2017 with the same name.
It shows Fallou, a woman the artist became friend with during his frequentation of The Studio Museum in Harlem, together with his brother Baaye Demba Sow. The two are portrayed together in front of the desk outside the museum where Fallou sells his handmade hats.
When Fallou’s brother arrived from Senegal, Casteel asked them to sit for a portrait and they accepted enthusiastically.
In High Line you’ll run into other artworks, among them graffiti, statues and futuristic compositions. It will be enough to go all along it in a good part to see them all.
Little far, at the crossroads between 10th Ave and W 22nd Street (Chelsea area), I recommend the revolutionary Mount Rushmore by Kobra – perfectly visible by the High Line – with Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, instead of the 4 USA Presidents.
The Brooklyn street artist Tristan Eaton in 2013 painted a mural entirely dedicated to Audrey Hepburn in the heart of Little Italy in Manhattan – it is one of the longest-running street art works in the city.
Eaton thought of white and black lines with inside abstract colorful motives to recreate the unmistakable and captivating face of the famous and unforgotten actress Audrey Hepburn. One of my favorites without any doubt in New York City.
The mural is located at 176, Mulberry St on an external wall of the famous Caffe Roma.
To always stay up to date about the new project of Graffiti and Street Art in New York I invite you to look up the official Street Art Nyc website: it is an open window about everything that happens – artistically speaking – in the streets of the city.
A website updated non-stop, rich in cues and ideas – among them theme paths, tours, events and initiatives organized by districts and neighborhoods – to make your New Yorker stay even more intense and special.
“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
(Henry David Thoreau)