Terms such as “wall wanderings,” “wall crawls,” and “mural hunting” have invaded our vocabulary.
Since creative types started to use street art as a revitalization tool for once derelict neighborhoods, an interest to capture these colorful expressions have sweep the nation (maybe the world).
Hundreds of Instagram accounts have been dedicated to wall and murals. The news about the latest finds are spread with hashtags such as #walltraveled, #wallcharades and #ihaveathingforwalls.
If we use the number of followers of these accounts as an indicator, we can say these artistic expressions are received with great enthusiasm.
I am one of those who have been swept by this trend. Over the past year, I have found myself more interested in finding spots with great street art. Hey, I am not the most athletic or fit person in the world. Therefore, doing a walking tour, with the purpose of finding murals, kills two birds with the same stone.
For a long time, I have known New York City is a paradise for those who are into walls. Even with two weeks in the city, I didn’t find the time to book a tour. But, I was determined to return home with some nice pictures.
One afternoon, after finishing a food tour of the East Village, I decided to go for an impromptu wall crawl since I had a bit more than an hour of sunlight.
Here are my simple instructions to find the best street art in Manhattan.
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This is one of the hippest and coolest neighborhoods of Manhattan. Get prepared to find eateries serving delicious and multi-ethnical food. I found great art along 1st Avenue and East Houston Street.
In the area, I found lot of works by an artist called Hek Tad, a native of The Bronx. He is well known by a series of works denominated Love Drunk. His use of color gets my whole attention!
Another famous artist represented in the area is James Goldcrown. His colorful hearts can be seen all over New York and Los Angeles and other places like Chicago and Austin. Not sure if there is a pattern somewhere but the use of hearts is prominent in Manhattan.
Along Houston Street, there is a place called First Street Green Cultural Park. Since 2008, a derelict building lot at 33 East 1st Street has been converted into an open art space serving the community. Today, First Street Green provides ongoing cultural activity in First Park by engaging with emerging artists, architects, community and cultural groups through a series of programs that activate this public space.
The art in here has a lot of substance. By looking at the murals, you start to think about causes such as human rights, political corruption and poverty.
SOHO and NOLITA
It is not simple to determine where one neighborhood in Manhattan starts and where another one ends. For example, some consider NOLITA (North of Little Italy) part of SOHO (South of Houston) but other considers it a different entity.
Even if you are confused by all this terminology, pay a visit to SOHO. It has some of the most beautiful and unique (Cast Iron) architecture in the borough. Plus, of course, it has some of the best street art in Manhattan (by the way, Manhattan is an island).
Well, in the area known as NOLITA, I found murals along Prince Street and Mott Street.
In SOHO, Broome Street has some nice art.
If you walk Broom Street towards the east, you are going to find yourself in Little Italy. Two famous murals by artist Tristan Eaton can be found in the area. One mural features Gigi Hadid and the other one Audrey Hepburn.
There is another work of James Goldcrown on Broome Street.
Once again, some consider The Bowery part of SOHO. One way or another, you are going to find a great concentration of art if you continue walking along Broome Street (and Allen Street).
After taking a look in there, move to Allen Street, north of Delancey Street. This is a wide street, so, you will need to walk on both sides to capture the different murals.
On Christmas Day, my sister and I walked around Harlem. I was able to photograph murals along Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard.
- To spot street art, make sure you look in front of you, behind you, above you and even, at the floor. You may be walking in the direction against the mural, plus, sometimes they are in the least expected spaces.
- I used an excellent resource created by the editors of Wear + Where + Well to find street art in SOHO and NOLITA. They include a map that you can follow. You can find it in here.
- I was interested in taking the Manhattan Street Art Tour offered by Free Tours by Foot. Unfortunately, time was not benign to me. It may be something you want to check out. They offer street art tours in Brooklyn too.
- Find my guide for street art in Dallas here.
Where have you found street art in Manhattan?
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