Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Pointz White-Washed

The fight to save 5Pointz might very well be over. In the dark of night, with police protection, the building owners have white-washed the public work of art.

This morning @5Pointz tweeted the news and Jeff Carroll posted the following photos of the destruction on Instagram:

After the City Council approved the demolition of 5Pointz to make room for luxury development, the founders of the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center filed a lawsuit to block the demolition.

With their lawsuit defeated, the 5Pointz defenders held a major rally this weekend and announced their plan to seek landmark status for the building. As we've seen many times before, when preservationists seek landmarking, building owners act fast--destroying the structure trying to be saved.

This morning, commuters on the 7 train are getting a shock, many of them taking to Twitter to say #RIP5Pointz.

These are photos from my recent trip to 5Pointz.

And yet another part of untamed New York is destroyed for more towering glass boxes, more hollow architecture for a city that has lost its soul. Again, too often, I think of Ada Huxtable's words:

“Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves… We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture.”

Update: As the morning goes on, more gut-wrenching photos are emerging online:

Stephen Nessen's twitter


  1. no comments, just tears

  2. What has crumbled is rebuilt. And what is rebuilt will crumble.

    Just part of the cycle.

  3. I have conflicting emotions like this.

    The destruction of New York's late twentieth century culture and its replacement by a fairly dreary and watered down version of late twentieth century mid-American culture has been sad, but as long as the buildings remained in place it could always be reversed.

    In the last few years, the cityscape has started to change to match the cultural change. I actually think a place's look and feel should match its soul, its too much dissonance otherwise. But it will make it much harder to leave this phase of the city's history behind.

  4. Very very sad. But I think the owners are getting attacked unfairly. They welcomed artists to use their building as a canvas for several years, always with the understanding that the building might be sold. If artists don't respect that deal, then other landlords aren't going to let their buildings be used in the future.

  5. 5 Pointz was not white-washed, NYC was.

    No amount of landmarking will protect the city from what it has already become. Buildings do not need protection, the culture does. You might landmark one building, but ten others will vanish in the meantime because the mindset has changed.

    BTW, I used to get a far better view of graffiti from the 7 train during the '80s. Every rooftop in Jackson Heights had some type of graffiti. As a kid, I would look down and be amazed.

  6. Since when is a decrepit building covered in graffiti "art"??
    I think the building only glorified urban decay and should've long ago been demolished.

  7. This is sad and yes it would've been nice if the owners hired an architect who came up with an artful plan to incorporate the graffiti and existing building into new plans. Maybe that would've been cool. But this is New York, not London, Boston or Berlin. In New York it's the almighty dollar that rules. Always has been. Always will be.

  8. We knew this was coming, but it's heartbreaking all the same.

  9. Of course the whitewash too is graffiti, as profound and disturbing as waking up to find your fire escape and windows tagged in the night, and perhaps a fitting end to this building - two sides of a coin of disfunction.

    Were our physical environments and culture more humane and engaging we might not need these reactionary & frequently destructive expressions (via roller and spray), and that modest brick factory building might be useful & sufficient on its own terms....

  10. The developers didn't have to do this overnight, under police protection. They could have given fans, the artists, the community a deadline for when this would happen. They did this overnight to prevent any more attempts to save the building. It has a tawdry, desperate feel to it. I think that is what is really a shame here.

    I was lucky enough to visit last week, but I know lots of others who will never get to see the building at all now. The developers could have easily left the art until right before demolition.

  11. Very very sad, and the whitewashing seems like the ultimate cruel gesture. The building was incredible. My husband went to a memorial service there for a graffiti artist who was killed in a traffic accident (several years back) and was overwhelmed by the spirit of place and the kids that came from over the city to pay their respects. It was a mecca, but there's great stuff still around where the neighborhoods haven't skyrocketed in value.

  12. would have been nice if they saved the architecture rather then demolish. personally im not a graffitti fan across the board. i would not want tolive where i see that.

  13. The very nature of street art is its temporary and short lifespan. There will always be a new addition or peice in its place. Unfortunately when the structure is to be demolished that is one less place to express and show your talent. Corporate dollars will always speak louder than rebellious art. By its short lived nature we must enjoy these works and document them while we can.

  14. Speaking of corporate dollars...5 Pointz proved that corporations and artists could work well together. It was the site of many commercial shoots professionally organized by the 5 Pointz crew. The landlord and everyone else involved benefitted and it shows that there is value in street art beyond looking cool.

  15. I don't get the attraction to this type of art. To me it invites crime.

  16. In my opinion this was one of the last "NY Things" left close to the city. Manhattan has become so sterilized and boring I find it more interesting to stay in the outer boroughs than go to the city. Not in the Williamsburg sense, which in my view has created this whole pretentious exclusive vibe which IS NOT artistry at all.

    I say it everyday, NYC is over. It's been over and nothing is left. Even if you have all of these mom & pop shops left in Manhattan like Russ & Daughters, etc, they clientele is not New York anymore. The PEOPLE make the city. The only people I ever see in the city are people who refuse to embrace the real NYC. They want to create their own hipstery vibe.

    What it really boils down to is all of the classes mixing together in harmony, and nowadays I just see a bunch of NYU students, hipsters, and people on section 8 who hate each other.

    I think Chinatown still has that 20-30 years ago vibe which I like, an ethnic enclave and somewhat mysterious and reminiscent of "Once upon a time in America" when people enter the new frontier.

    Hopefully someone will take the art (ELSEWHERE IN THE CITY).

    I remember when graffiti caked Manhattan in the early 90's. It was really out of control. But few of them were real artist and had really eye catching murals and throw ups.

    If you guys want to see awesome films about graffiti YouTube "Stations of the Elevated 1981" and "Wild Style" Style Wars. These are great portraits of that time.

  17. "Since when is a decrepit building covered in graffiti "art"??
    I think the building only glorified urban decay and should've long ago been demolished."
    Anon 12:47 - are you stupid, insane or blind? People came from all over the world to visit this building. It definitely is/was art. Guaranteed that nobody will travel from abroad to take a photo of the boring, glass condo that will replace it.

  18. Nice pics, I wish I had taken the time to take some before the building got whitewashed, but who would have expected it to be gone overnight?

    Here are my pics from Tuesday night's vigil:


  19. I'm so glad I lived in the NYC of the 80s...so alive, so vital...I even miss smutty Times Square. I was/am obsessed with graffiti ART so this is just so, so sad. So short-sighted. Greed is Bad.

  20. Sorry, don't like graffiti.

  21. This was a pretty sad loss in an ongoing battle between intellectual and property rights. I really appreciate this blog and am a regular reader--I have been chronicling the legal battle over 5 Pointz for some time and have published a pretty comprehensive report concerning it if you are interested: http://www.thecuratorial.com/2014/01/the-whitewashing-of-5-pointz.html


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