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New Yorkers love them some tattoos—and for good reason. When you have one, just walking down the street makes you a moving piece of art, contributing to the aesthetic that makes this city—the same one that helped birth another street art, graffiti—so vibrantly cool. While Native Americans have refined the practice for (at least) hundreds of years, NYC’s modern history with ink goes way back, too. Martin Hildebrandt opened the first U.S. tattoo shop in 1870 on Oak Street, in the shadow of the then-unfinished Brooklyn Bridge. In the first half of the 20th century, the Bowery was the crucible that helped define the national style. (Tattooing was illegal in NYC until 1997, but that never stopped us.) Today, a whopping 47 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 are inked. Continuing our city’s proud tradition, some of the most incredible contemporary artists—in any medium—are working in a tattoo shop near you, pushing the art form forward. The art doesn’t stop there—there are plenty of great body piercing shops, too.
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