Somewhere between visiting four different parks, drinking one amazing iced coffee, touring the Noguchi Museum, having a picnic and watching the sunset over Manhattan, I also managed to stumble across the 5 Pointz complex in Long Island City.
Described as the "world's premiere graffiti Mecca," 5 Pointz is a building complex covered, for the most part, in really beautiful "graffiti," or as I see it, art. I was vaguely aware of its existence, and when I looked it up I found that it was actually only a few blocks from where I had tried to eat at Garage Burger. As I got closer it became easier to find by the loud music and cheering crowds, and when I rounded the corner I immediately knew I was in the right place. There was a bike competition going on that day too, with cyclists racing each other and weaving in and out of cones down the street.
Apparently the complex is in danger of being torn down and turned into high-rise residential towers, and a few booths were set up selling merchandise and providing petitions to help preserve the area.
If you ever make it out to 5 Pointz, be sure to take in the entire 360 view. As I was getting ready to leave, I realized that the artwork continued onto the other side of the building, as well as the sides, sidewalks, fire hydrants, fire escapes, doors and lampposts.
Since 2002 the artwork has been curated by a graffiti artist, who apparently asks for samples and layout sketches from every potential artist before they can contribute to the project. A lot of graffiti you see on the streets is sloppy and abstract, but the screening process is obviously working because 5 Pointz showcases the best of the best.
After seeing it in person, I can completely understand the passion that people have toward saving the complex. I love that it's a totally accessible (and free!) way to view (and make) art in the city, and tearing it down would be completely unfair. You want to believe that the building owner has an investment in the area that means more than the millions he would make from a high-rise, but unfortunately that's not very likely.
If you want to know how you can help save and support 5 Pointz, you can find out more here.
More about Long Island City: Noguchi Museum + Socrates Sculpture Park | Gantry Plaza State Park + Sweetleaf