New York is a city of superlatives – a place where everything is considered bigger, better, and brighter. It’s no surprise the city is home to one of the largest street art collections in the world: 5 Pointz. While graffiti and New York may be associated with dark backstreets somewhere deep in the Bronx, this world famous street art Mecca is located in an old warehouse complex in Queens.
The brightly colored landmark is hard to miss. When traveling into Queens on the elevated 7 train, the graffiti-covered building with its colorful tags, symbols, faces and grimaces is one of the first things that will capture the passenger’s eye. 5 Pointz is less of a museum or gallery but more of a living collage of aerosol art covering the walls of the old factory building in Long Island City. The complex was first established in the early 1990s to discourage graffiti vandalism by offering a site where artists can legally work and experiment – rather than illegally tag subways or fascades.
To get permission to create a piece at 5 Pointz, artists are required to submit samples of their work for curation. The rules are simple: You are allowed to paint whatever you want as long as there is no explicit language or imagery. After a certain amount of time, the walls are erased to make room for new pieces. 5 Pointz has become a global attraction over the past decades – not only for artists but also photographers, filmmakers, musicians, and of course tourists.
Depending on who sees it, 5 Pointz can either be a living art collection or just an uninspired bunch of graffiti tags. Why not check this place out yourself? 5 Pointz is located near the Court House Square station, only three stops into Queens on the 7 train (45-46 Davis Street, Long Island City). It’s recommended to not procrastinate a visit: Recent articles report 5 Pointz is likely to be demolished by September 2013 to make room for residential buildings.
All photos by Cordula Schaefer.
Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.