Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Thanks to reader Steven Benga who sent in the following photo and writes, "I would be concerned if this REVS/COST graffiti would be a pity if every building adjacent to the High Line ultimately has its graffiti removed."

There is cause for concern.

On the upper right of this photo, workers whitewash the Manhattan Mini-Storage sign in blue paint, covering its logo of a man carrying a box. Below, on the High Line, more hardhats contemplate the Revs/Cost sign.

Are they thinking, "This one's the next to go"?

Many are vexed by the High Line's white-washing, especially after the disappearance of the Roxy graffiti that once spelled out the tags of Werds and Slur. As Gothamist put it earlier this fall, "workers are still busy trying to make sure every last vestige of urban character and uniqueness is removed from sight!"

Seth Carnes, who lost his iheart, chronicled the loss, writing, "Where the Highline was once natural, historical, and gritty, it is now corporate, cordoned-off, unnatural, pastiche. The graffiti cover-up in drab grey is symbolic of the Highline's loss of historical identity."

And graffiti expert Jake Dobkin has said, "if they touch the Revs/Cost Mural at 23rd Street, it's war."

Looks like the enemy may be massing at the gate.


EV Grieve said...

The Graffiti Friend of EV Grieve has been training for weeks for this war.

Any why not just leave all that up? And then the power brokers can market the High Line as "urban" and "gritty" like Old New York, except mostly really pretty and glassy and expensive and, look, food stands!

Bowery Boogie said...

billboards and such will probably grace these highline-facing facades. of course, after the character is completely eradicated.

Grade "A" Fancy said...

Am I the only one who is irked that the Revs painted over the ghost sign that was there?

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear: there are already HUGE billboards adjacent to the High Line that are invasive, hideous, and possibly illegal under recent City Council revisiting of unenforced ordinances. If folks don't want this historic graffiti to disappear, they should make their voices heard by contacting the High Line folks at:

Anonymous said...

This and all other adjacent pieces certainly will be buffed, if not this week then next. I hope they are not replaced with billboards, as BB suggests, but cynically, I expect it will happen that way.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the founding Friends of the High Line and architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro, I've always wondered who the informer was. Who was the turncoat who pointed out Anne Frank's achterhuis? It makes me think of Henry Miller's 1945 book THE AIR-CONDITIONED NIGHTMARE:

"We have war memorials in our public squares that must make the dead in whose name they were erected squirm in their graves. We have an architectural taste which is as near the vanishing point as is possible to achieve."

It's unfortunate that sixty-five years later the Board of Directors of the High Line continues a quest to perpetuate mundane, degenerate forms. The High Line is simply just another nonfulfillment of hope, another anticlimax, another washout.

The High Line is a $50 million dollar failure because of the hucksters and the young public relations ectoparasites who fed off its historical functionality leaving nothing but a lukewarm, tightly shrink-wrapped turkey and Brie white bread sandwich, with the smallest measuring spoon of cranberry chutney squeezed into one side, yours for $12.95. They betrayed New York. They will continue to betray YOU.

It's interesting that the High Line was built to reduce or eliminate street-level accidents and fatalities. My Christmas wish is that the High Line's purple people-eater tunnel will perform as designed.

Raul "Rez" Barquet said...

The Graffiti may be over a ghost sign that was once impressive, however if these pieces were not buffed over, the graffiti would also one day fade and chip and new pieces would be painted over it. I found that depth quite beautiful.

JakeGould said...

I like graffiti, photograph it and know some stuff about it but I also recognize context. And honestly the era for those pieces and tags is gone. And graffiti is ephemeral; you folks most of the pieces documented by the likes of Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant were buffed over within days?

We can complain about the High Line, but honestly I like it. And I agree with Baroness V.O., the ghost signs I find a sadder loss because these were true touchstones of what existed in the neighborhood at one time.

As for graf, I comfort myself by heading out to the deeper parts of this city that are not in Manhattan and see/discover new stuff.

Anyone who likes graffiti and can't acknowledge the ephemeral nature of it is really missing the point.

Unknown said...

Man, the various Revs/Cost stuff around the city is iconic. I'm not the only one wishing for a sudden resurgence of guerilla bombing around the city, with an anti-corporate bent.

Emmett5678 said...

I watched the Cost and Revs graffiti and paper posts appear around the city in the late 80's and early 90's. There was a telephone number that was posted. I called it. There was a chaotic message, that I will never forget...can't remember it now. Somehow "Cost and Revs" survived from my old hand written address book to a electronic Casio address keeper to Palm pilot to Blackberry to iPhone. I tried to call it again in later years. First, the voice mail was full. Then the number disappeared. Maybe the graffiti that has survived on the walls is the same. What did Cost and Revs mean to me? It was a wax stamp on the hot sun of New York 1989. I can feel it, smell it and I know what it looks like. At least it's not in a of the few things of my past that is not cooler now then it was then. Thanks for the posts and information. I am happy to feel my youth again~ Emmett Murphy