Here are the top places to find amazing street art in NYC for your next visit – or for your first time there. There are a lot of things to see in the Big Apple. And while street art may not be the first thing you think of, there is some amazing art waiting for you. And all with a rich history behind its beginnings. You shouldn’t miss these at all.
No matter which, seeing this art makes you experience what the artist is conveying. It’s beautiful, inspiring, and showcases great talent.
What Is Street Art?
The definition of the word graffiti refers to what is known as guerrilla artwork. This is artwork found on train lines and inner city walls. The guerrilla artwork became popular in the late 60s and early 70s.
An early form of this guerilla artwork or graffiti is tagging. This is using grandiose typography to showcase the painter’s name. Except the name is hidden within the script or painting.
This tagging found its way onto subway cars and sides of buildings. There were extra points given to artists who found the most inaccessible locations. This took place often at great heights to score the points. Yet, this competition was to see who could make their mark better than their competitor. This insular group determined skill in two ways. By evaluating control of the spray paint and developing their unique typographical marks.
Since the 1970s, street art has been a part of New York City. It started with the younger kids from Brooklyn and the Bronx. It was often dangerous and always illegal. Yet, subway cars, buildings, and more showed tags with graffiti. Now, it is an art form that has gone from the streets to the museums.
Where to Find Street Art in NYC
Now you know more about street art and what it represents. here are a few places you can see some of the iconic street art in New York City.
The Audubon Mural Project
This particular street art has a purpose. Bringing awareness to birds threatened by climate change is the focus. This is a partnership between Gitler &_____ Gallery in Hamilton Heights and the Audubon Society. Commissioned throughout Upper Manhattan and these images are beautiful to gaze upon.
This art location is at Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights.
Hammer Boy by Banksy
Most people have at least heard of Banksy. And on the Upper West Side on the exterior wall of a DSW store, Hammer Boy is there to view. It first made its appearance in 2013 and with an artist like Banksy, the store knew they had to protect. So they added a plexiglass cover to the artwork. This street art showcases the silhouette of a kid with a sledgehammer. The kid looks as if he is going to hit the real fire hydrant located in front of the art.
You can find this street art at W 79th St near Broadway.
The Bronx Wall of Fame
This is a must-see before removal by demolition. Some of the artists who have graced this wall include L.A.’s MSK, Long Island’s Phetus, and the late Queens legend Iz the Wiz. This is an entire block of art filled with varying types of art. From messages to art and color – this block of art has everything. The wall is to be razed to make room for more affordable housing. And by the way, it is only called the Wall of Fame in an unofficial capacity.
You can find it at E 173rd St at West Farms Rd in The Bronx
The Bushwick Collective
Joseph Ficalora lived his whole life in Bushwick. And it was dealing with a death in 2012, when he needed inspiration. The walls around the local blocks started to become covered in art. This was after getting in touch with his friends to help. You can find murals by Swoon, Dan Witz, Cost, and Nychos.
Find it at Troutman St at St. Nicholas Ave in Bushwick.
Bowery Graffiti Wall
What started in 1982 with graffiti from Keith Haring, has turned into a showcase for other artists. What made things take off is when a real estate mogul (the late Tony Goldman) took over. He encouraged the artists and even invited them to come to make their presence known on the wall. This is a place where such artists as Os Gêmeos, Lady Aiko, and Shepard Fairey make their mark.
You can find the Bowery Graffiti Wall at E Houston St at Bowery.
Graffiti Hall of Fame
Located at the old BET headquarters, is the Graffiti Hall of Fame. It all started in 1980. “Sting Ray” Rodriguez was an activist for the neighborhood. He used the wall as part of his positive and creative expression. For years, there have been famous names who have graced the wall. Names like Dez, Crash, Flight, Delta, Tats Cru and Skeme are a few of them. Each year in August there is an event where the pieces are painted over.
You can find the Graffiti Hall of Fame at E 106th St at Park Ave.
2 World Trade Center
Inspired by anime and Pop Art, the foundation for 2 World Trade Center has vibrant murals. These are all on a metal shed where paint meets its canvas. This is the same area where the future skyscraper will be in a few years. There are many famous artists who have shared their art. Like Hektad, BoogieRez, Todd Gray, Stickymonger. As well as husband and wife team, Chinon Maria and Sebastian Mitre. What stands out is the bright colors and bold looks. This is because the Financial District is usually more sterile looking. The contrast is amazing.
The location is at Greenwich St.
Centre-Fuge Public Art Project
This was a project started back in 2011 by Jonathan Neville and Pebbles Russell. These Lower East Side natives wanted to take construction sites and make them more exciting. So, the Centre-Fuge Public Art Project became a reality. Artists will drench the exterior walls of construction trailers with their spray-painted masterpieces. You’ll find works by Col Wallnuts, Cycle 21, Julia Cocuzza, Kwue Molly, Mike Kuhn, and Damien Miksza.
You can find it at E First St.
This area was set up by Tats Cru, comprised of Bio, BG183, Nicer, How and Nosm. These trendsetters from The Bronx started this area in 2008. Later, inviting other friends to join them. Like old friend Goldie, U.K. stencil pioneer Nick Walker, L.A.’s reputed Seventh Letter crew, Crash and Evoke. They even keep the area non-overtly political. They also do not allow wheatpaste or carving in respect to the building’s owner.
You can find Hunts Point at Drake St at Spofford Ave.
Located in Bushwick, Johnson Avenue is an industrial block where street artists from all over the world create their street art. Whether it’s Host 18, Swiss artist Tones One, or Rime (aka Jersey Joe) – the art is invigorating, unique, and prime space for others to be creative.
You can find it at Johnson Avenue off Bogart Street, Bushwick in Brooklyn.
Two Trees Management Co and Jonathan Levine Gallery joined forces with the DUMBO Improvement District to create and organize the DUMBO Walls street art space. Many acclaimed artists have created murals for this project. Artists like Shepard Fairey, CAM, DALeast, MOMO, Stefan Sagmeister, Faith47, and Yuko Shimizu. There are eight walls in total.
You can find it at 20 Jay St. #510 in Brooklyn.
Coney Art Walls
One of the most iconic areas in the world, Coney Island has the Coney Art Walls project to add to its resume. Organized by Thor Equities, there is street art featured by talented artists. Artists like Nina Chanel Abney, John Ahearn, and Timothy Curtis. As well as D*Face, Jessica Diamond, and Tristan Eaton. Also, Eric Haze, Icy & Sot, London Police, Nychos, Pose, Stephen Powers, Tats Cru, and Sam Vernon.
You can find the Coney Art Walls at 3050 Stillwell Ave. Brooklyn (at Coney Island).
Along with awesome views of Manhattan, the High Line in NYC is also home to Highline Art. This arrangement is by an art collective known as Friends of the High Line. Artists from all over the globe get invitations. This is to share their artwork with the world. In 2011, French artist JR created a large-scale mural as part of his contribution to the project. In 2012 another artist made his statement – Brazilian artist Kobra. His piece was inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic 1945 photograph dubbed V-J Day.
You can find Highline Art at Linear Park on the West Side.
Many artists have left their signature at this storied tattoo shop. Located in the Bronx, this is a huge area for muralists, bombers, and taggers with a huge name or following. Artists can share their signature pieces at the back of the shop. This is where a 45-foot subway car replica acts as their blank canvas. Os Gêmeos, Cope2, as well as the late Iz the Wiz have created murals at Tuff City.
You can find it at 650 E. Fordham Road in the Bronx.
Os Gemeos Mural
If you follow street art, then you are already aware of Os Gemeos. In 2015, a massive mural got its start at First Street and Second Avenue in the East Village. According to their own statement, the mural honors “everyone that has made and continues to keep the real hip-hop alive.” More so, the work pays homage to graffiti, rap and the era of 1970s New York break dancing. This one has extrinsic details. The boombox plays “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa. The cap is embellished with a graffiti-bombed subway train. And a Mugsy pin painted by Rock Steady Crew member Doze Green attaches to the old school tracksuit top.
You can find it at Second Avenue and First Street in the East Village.
Big Pun Memorial Mural
Tats Cru, a graffiti artist based out of the Bronx created this tribute mural. Its work is in tribute to Big Pun, a Puerto Rican rap star who died in 2000. Big Pun, who is Christopher Lee Rios or known as the Big Punisher. Every year on his birthday, the mural gets new paint to help keep it fresh and new. It’s a fitting reminder of the deep ties between the community and Pun. He was the first Latino rapper certified platinum as a solo act.
You can find Big Pun Memorial Mural at 910 Rogers Place in the Bronx.
So Much to See
There are so many incredible pieces of street art all across New York City. Many, you will find by walking around and looking. The more iconic ones we have listed for you to explore but there isn’t enough room to include them all.
Make sure you take your camera with you. Catch all the vivid kaleidoscope of grandiose colors and styles. Even if you want to look and explore, that’s fine too. The point is to enjoy these artists and their work and best of all, everything is free to look at.
There are even tours available where you are guided along. There, you see some of the more famous street art offerings. It’s up to you how you wish to see these pieces of art. The important thing is to make sure that you do.