Street art: Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

From storied walls to exciting new spaces, here are ten free outdoor spots to see the city’s best street art and graffiti.

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In the early 1980s, kids battled Mayor Koch over end-to-end burners and broadside rollers, but much has changed in the 30 years since the documentary Style Wars blew the cap off NYC’s street-art scene and brought it into mainstream conversation. Contemporary bubble tags, murals and conceptual pieces continue to pop up citywide, while building and gallery owners commission both legendary painters and new luminaries—a far cry from the days of sneaking through subway tunnels in search of unclaimed tile.

RECOMMENDED: Street art and graffiti guide

With the help of storied graffiti artists, gallery owners and current scene documentarians—including Tats Cru, Crash One, Joey TDS, Trike1GND, Bowery Boogie (boweryboogie.com), New York Graffiti (newyorkgraffiti.com) and Stern Rockwell of Streets Are Saying Things (streetsaresayingthings.com)—we’ve gathered ten choice public, outdoor spots from BK to the BX to see the finest modes currently fashioned by old-school heads (Crash One, Cost, T-Kid, Os Gêmeos) and young bucks (Beau, Danielle Mastrion) alike, all of which is proof positive that sometimes, nothing’s more exciting than watching acrylic paint dry.

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Bowery Graffiti Wall

    Keith Haring first splashed this wall in 1982, and it’s been a destination ever since. In 2008, it went somewhat legit when late real-estate man Tony Goldman took over the location, invited Os Gêmeos, Shepard Fairey, Lady Aiko and more to rotate murals. Crash’s massive Popeye mural, which went up in March, succeeded the mixed-media collage of Tats Cru’s How and Nosm. While something of a serious artistic showcase, this wall is also steeped in street ethos. E Houston St at Bowery

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Bronx Wall of Fame

    This epic South Bronx block is only unofficially dubbed the Wall of Fame. That’s too bad since it could benefit from landmark status; plans are afoot to raze this community beacon in favor of affordable housing. The wall’s pedigree is indisputable: Late Queens legend Iz the Wiz, Long Island’s Phetus and L.A.’s MSK crew represent a tiny fraction of the artists who’ve painted remarkable wild styles, fills, murals and messages across its bricks. The clock is ticking for you to see history before those bricks come crashing down. E 173rd St at West Farms Rd, Bronx

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    The Bushwick Collective

    In 2012, dealing with bereavement and seeking inspiration, Bushwick lifer Joseph Ficalora called on friends to begin covering the walls on local blocks (look for the massive, decrepit robot courtesy of Pixelpancho, among other beacons). Scene luminary Cost has contributed a mural, as have Dan Witz, Swoon and Nychos. Catch the collective’s all-day street party June 2. Troutman St at St. Nicholas Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn (facebook.com/thebushwickcollective)

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  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Centre-fuge Public Art Project

    Where thousands of pedestrians saw a construction trailer at 1st and First, Pebbles Russell and Jonathan Neville envisioned an experimental canvas, a way to transform the ugliness of the Houston restoration project. Since January 2012, the duo has curated seven bimonthly cycles of art (the eighth is installed Wed 1–May 4 and will be on view through mid-July). Danielle Mastrion’s mural of late Beastie Boy MCA put Centre-fuge on the map, and in a very short time, Russell and Neville have corralled pieces from high-profile bandits like Iranian stencil aficionados Icy and Sot. Art-school grads, at-home novices and grand masters may all submit work and written descriptions via the Centre-fuge website, while the rest of us can revel in this indirect gift from the MTA. 1st St at First Ave (centre-fuge.tumblr.com

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  • Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    5 Pointz

    Whether by happenstance or canniness, Flushing-raised Jonathan Cohen (Meres One) picked quite the choice intersection for his outdoor graffiti paean, residing in a revived LIC, between starving-artist epicenters Astoria and Greenpoint. The five-story, block-long building with 200,000 square feet of surface is a breathing homage to hip-hop’s five elements and the closest one can get to aerosol nirvana. There have been rumors of demolition, but a full program of summer events is already slated and any given afternoon is a good time to admire the kaleidoscopic tag panels, towering facade murals and epic memorials. Tats Cru, Stay High 149, Sway and scores from across the planet have sprayed here, and it’s even more astounding up close than from a 7 train bird’s-eye view. 45-46 Davis St at Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens (646-258-0328-219-2685, 5ptz.com)

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  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Germania Bank Building

    The Bowery Graffiti Wall down the street deserves its attention, but over at Bowery and Spring, a landmarked bank long ago turned residential space has graffiti climbing up its walls like ivy, all with the begrudging acceptance of owner and renowned photographer Jay Maisel. As condos continue to claim the surrounding neighborhood, Germania sticks out in protest, with work by famed inhabitants such as late taggers Nekst and Semz covering its original stone-brick exterior. Plus, Keith Haring reputedly used to scrawl chalk babies here. 190 Bowery at Spring St

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  • Photograph: Camille A Fernandez

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Graffiti Hall of Fame

    It doesn’t get more quintessentially New York than this outdoor exhibit on a wide stretch of East Harlem wall (yes, right by BET’s former residence). Back in 1980, neighborhood activist “Sting Ray” Rodriguez founded the Hall as an outlet for positive expression and more than three decades later, hundreds of boldfaced names— Dez, Crash, Flight, Delta, Tats Cru and Skeme to name but a few—have left characters, tags and pieces. Veteran artist Joey TDS still organizes the annual event that paints over the old pieces (Aug 25, 26 noon–8pm). E 106th St at Park Ave (917-361-5483, graffitihalloffame.net)

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  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Hunts Point

    Longtime Bronx trendsetters Tats Cru (Bio, BG183, Nicer, How and Nosm) found their latest ripe facade in 2008 and invited, among others, old friend Goldie, U.K. stencil pioneer Nick Walker, L.A.’s reputed Seventh Letter crew, Crash and Evoke to paint. Out of respect for the building’s owner, they avoid carving, wheatpaste and overt politicizing, but anything else goes. Now that the weather’s warming, check facebook.com/tatscru for their next big artist gathering and perhaps an eventual contribution from original Tats collaborator Fat Joe. Drake St at Spofford Ave, Bronx (tatscru.net)

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  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    North 6th St

    It’s no secret that Williamsburg’s industrial Northside has been almost entirely reconfigured as a young urban professional’s paradise. But not every abandoned warehouse has been claimed. In recent years, Banksy and Nick Walker have left their unique brand of artful vandalism on this strip, and there are still plenty of throwups, murals and even the odd wild style popping up along the drag—development be damned. North 6th St between Bedford and Kent Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

    Tuff City

    This landmark tattoo shop and gallery’s uptown location (the sister outpost’s on the Lower East Side) has doubled as a haven for graffiti heads since 2007. Signature lettering wraps around the building, but the main attraction is the awe-inspiring 45-foot subway car—a decorative tribute that’s becoming more common these days—out back that’s boasted full-scale pieces, colorful characters and throwups of all stripes by Brazilian twins Os Gêmeos, Cope2, the late Iz the Wiz and scores of their peers. 650 Fordham Rd at Belmont Ave, Bronx (718-563-4157, tuffcitystyles.com)

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Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Top ten spots to see street art and graffiti in NYC

Bowery Graffiti Wall

Keith Haring first splashed this wall in 1982, and it’s been a destination ever since. In 2008, it went somewhat legit when late real-estate man Tony Goldman took over the location, invited Os Gêmeos, Shepard Fairey, Lady Aiko and more to rotate murals. Crash’s massive Popeye mural, which went up in March, succeeded the mixed-media collage of Tats Cru’s How and Nosm. While something of a serious artistic showcase, this wall is also steeped in street ethos. E Houston St at Bowery


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