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The top 10 spots to see graffiti in NYC

From storied walls to exciting new spaces, here are ten outdoor spots displaying the city's best street art and graffiti

Photograph: Filip Wolak
Tuff City

In the early 1980s, kids battled Mayor Koch over end-to-end burners and broadside rollers, but much has changed since the 1983 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 evolve graffiti in NYC, 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.

With the help of storied graffiti artists, gallery owners and current scene documentarians—including Tats Cru, Crash One, Joey TDS, Trike1GND, Bowery Boogie, New York Graffiti and Stern Rockwell of Streets Are Saying Things—we’ve gathered ten choice public, outdoor spots from Brooklyn to the Bronx 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 that sometimes, nothing’s more exciting than watching acrylic paint dry.

RECOMMENDED: Street art and graffiti guide

Street art and graffiti in NYC

1
The Audubon Mural Project

The Audubon Mural Project

The Audubon Society has been partnering with the Gitler &_____ Gallery in Hamilton Heights to commission street art murals around Upper Manhattan dedicated to birds threatened by climate change. Their fine feathery plumage makes for eye-popping images, and you can find out where to see them by downloading this map from the project’s website. Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights (audubon.org)

2
Bowery Graffiti Wall

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

3
Bronx Wall of Fame

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

4
The Bushwick Collective

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. Troutman St at St. Nicholas Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn (facebook.com/thebushwickcollective)

5
Graffiti Hall of Fame

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, facebook.com/grafhalloffame)

6
Hunts Point

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. Check Facebook 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)

7
Johnson Avenue

Johnson Avenue

This industrial block in Bushwick offers prime wall space for street artists from around the world including right here in NYC. A stroll past the warehouses along the avenue might lead you past colorful murals by the likes of Rime (aka Jersey Joe), Swiss artist Tones One and Host 18. Johnson Avenue off Bogart Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn

8
North 6th St

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

9
100 Gates Project

100 Gates Project

The storefront gates in question belong to businesses participating in this unique street art program covering the Lower East Side, in which retailers looking for some of that sweet street creed are matched with artists looking for a legally permitted space to do their thing. So far, some 75 plus murals have gone up, ranging from Buff Monster’s elastic flying brain cum cyclops for Bondy's Cameras and Appliance to Billy the artist’s Picassoid faces for Michele Olivieri’s sneaker mecca. A complete rundown on works and locations can be found on the 100 Gates Project website. Lower East Side (100gatesnyc.com)

10
Tuff City

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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