New Yorkers, ex-Pats, tourists, Mexican buskers, never mind who – you’ve most likely looked beyond the tagged windows of a 7 train and down below at the iconic 5 Pointz in L.I.C., Queens. A riot of color in the form of a 200,000 square foot warehouse, 5 Pointz began in 1993 as a meeting point for street artists from our five boroughs (yes, even Staten Island) to create and show off their aerosol skills. Fast forward twenty years and 5 Pointz has become a ‘grafitti mecca’ for artists all around the globe, holding a vital place in the history of graffiti.
Stand within the decrepit warehouse, and you see stories, tributes to beloved artists and messages to our dearly departed. Among my favorite faces to greet me on my morning commute is the unmistakable Notorious B.I.G. by New Zealand artist Owen Dipple.
But not for long. Plans are now in motion to demolish 5 Pointz and replace it with two 40+ story towers allowing for 1,000 residential units.
Cries and protests from artists, residents and aficionados have been clogging up Co-Owners David Wolkoff’s mailbox ever since the mere idea of replacing 5 Pointz surfaced in 2009. After the changes L.I.C. has seen during the past decade, Wolkoff believes this is the best next step for the use of the warehouse. He plans to keep (some) artist studios in tact and have a 200ft mural in the courtyard as an homage to the areas former life.
But with P.S. 1 around the corner and artists living left, right and center, instead of pushing out the residents that have made L.I.C. so attractive, perhaps Wolkoff should invest in their growth. Renovating the space to encourage small businesses, a new ‘IT’ venue for artists to show their work or a community arts center would all help the growing neighborhood more than a 10,000 square foot gym and indoor pool.
It will be a long journey for Wolkoff and the fate of 5 Pointz, but one thing is certain, whether from the train or on a guided tour, 5 Pointz has become a living, breathing, collage of our history. We will miss it dearly.