Graffiti in New York

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Graffiti has become an acclaimed art form in the capital of New York however, those who are aware of its dark and dreary past, will know that this wasn’t always the case. Street artists, considered vandals back in the day, hid from the authorities so they could practice this art form used to express their anger, sadness, or simply just to leave a trace of their presence. LocalNomad unveils how this once lost art form came to flourish in the colorful city of New York. Ready, set, spray!

History of Graffiti in New York

Modern graffiti first appeared in the 60´s in Philadelphia. Among those leading the movement were Cornbread and Cool Earl, two of the new fad´s earliest known pioneers. New York saw its first city wide wave of graffiti around the time of the death of musician Mr. Charlie Parker, nicknamed Bird. Shortly after, countless fans took to the streets and tagged the words “Bird Lives” all around the Big Apple. With time other artists began tagging their names and street number on metro cars all over New York. Thus, their masterpieces travelled across Manhattan and surrounding areas perceived by other artists who added their own, and from there a new art movement was born. New Yorkers gradually became aware of this new means of expression, and in 1971, The New York Times published a popular story featuring an interview with local tagger TAKI 183.

Throughout the early 80’s, the number of artists increased, the tagging techniques were being tweaked, and the graffiti itself was evolving, revealing the trademark style of each artist. Other pioneers behind the movement includeTRACY 168 and CLIFF 159 who added their names to their graffiti art for a more elaborate result. Around the same time, in 1972, New York Mayor John Lindsay, declared the first war on Graffiti which resulted in the removal of the last tagged train in 1989.  Despite their efforts, the movement refused to die as artists began searching for new locations and new ways to tag the streets. Today, it is considered part of New York history and the Big Apple cityscape, accepted by most as a genuine form of artistic expression.

Top Graffiti Artists in New York

Here is a brief list of some of the top graffiti artists in New York whose creations we are fortunate enough to be able to admire in streets across the city.

Tracy 168


ESPO – Steve Powers

Lady Pink

Jean Michel Basuiqt alias SAMO©

Keith Haring

Top Graffiti in New York

In New York, you don´t go looking for graffiti you just run into them. When you leave your apartment, when you take the subway, cross a bridge, or even find yourself at the corner of a street, you´ll undoubtedly discover an incredible chef-d´oeuvre by some famous graffiti artist. If you want a guarantee of running into some top quality graffiti we recommend you take a walk along 5 Pointz in Long Island City. This gigantic abandoned factory building has become a stomping ground for graffiti artists everywhere.

Another hot spot for some quality Street Art in New York is the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem, located on the corner of 106th street and Park Avenue. This wall, which surrounds an old city square, houses the best works of some of the most renowned New York graffiti artists. It was also home to a number of “graff wars”.

Graffiti and Street Art is now a generally accepted form of artistic expression which is respected and celebrated by most New Yorkers, so long as it demonstrates a modicum of artistic talent. If you would like a chance to contemplate the most beautiful graffiti in the Big Apple.

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