Starting in around 2002 and running thru 2013, New York City — specifically Queens — housed “the world’s premier graffiti mecca” — the old Neptune Meter factory built in 1892 for the construction of water meters. Graffiti artists from all over the world traveled to the site to paint the walls of the 200,000-square-foot factory, consisting of multiple 4-story brick buildings and taking up a 2-block by 2-block section of Long Island City, Queens.
I didn’t know any of that when I brought my high-school daughter to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA PS1) for a school art assignment. I parked two blocks from the MOMA gallery and was hit dab smack with the amazing graffiti that — amazingly — seemed to engulf the massive 4-story high complex head to toe. So I parked the car and brought my daughter (with wife and son in tow) to MOMA. After daughter finished her assignment on a modern art exhibition behind a closed ‘for fee’ section of the stuffy MOMA building, we went back to where the really fascinating art was — to where as Joni Mitchell once said, they painted for free.
The name “5 Pointz” came from the notion that NYC’s five boroughs came together as one at this location — even though Staten Island and the Bronx were no where near it — it might more aptly be called “3 Pointz” — since it was at the border of Brooklyn and Queens in the shadow of Manhattan. But “5 Pointz” came to be known as the place where graffiti artists from all around the world came.
According to Wikipedia, graffiti writers such as Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Cope2, Part, SPE, Dan Plasma, CORTES and TATS CRU had come from all over the world to spray paint on the complex’s walls.
PS: the PS1 in MOMA PS1 stands for Public School 1 — the building was the original location of NYC Public School 1. There’s a PS1 in Staten Island’s Tottenville section — different school.
At the time, 5 Pointz housed the Crane Street Studios, in which 200 artists paid below-market rents for studio space.
5 Pointz is long gone — the building demolished in 2014. In 2013 the building owner had all the graffiti painted over white — essentially erased — without any notification to any of the artists. The artists sued and won $6.7 Million amongst them. In September 2018 the owners appealed. The full story is on wikipedia. All good things come to an end — all that art — gone — existing only in photographs.