I remember those days. My glory days, I mean.
It was Autumn 2013, I was younger (and this is already a good reason to define those days “glory days”) and, above all, I was in New York City. It was my second time in town, so I was free from “institutional” appointments (official museums, parks, city views, Manhattan, Manhattan and still Manhattan). This meant only one thing to me: street art hunting.
As you know, for graffiti lovers like us, NY is a special place. This city wrote some of the most important pages of the street culture history and one of these pages was for sure 5 Pointz. And when I say 5 Pointz your first thought should be “Fuck yeah! The Graffiti Mecca!”.
Located in Long Island City, Queens, between Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, it was an industrial block, basically a complex of crumbling depots and warehouses. Well, at least this was 5 Pointz at the beginning of the 90’s, because starting from 1993 and for the next 20 years graffiti artists from all over the world decided to give heart and soul to those old buildings, covering every single inch of their walls with colorful and visionary spray paintings.
Anyway, it was Autumn 2013 and I was in 5 Pointz. The sight in front of my eyes was simply breathtaking. Over 200.000 square-foot of factory buildings fully covered with hundreds and hundreds of outstanding graffiti pieces. Probably the biggest spontaneous outdoor art gallery never created in human history. I was walking around the block, thrilled like a child in a candy shop or something like that, when a young boy came up to me.
“It’s sad, you know…” he told me.
I was sincerely confused, because sadness was the last of my feelings in that moment. So I just looked at him with eyes full of doubts.
“Tomorrow… They will destroy this place…” he said and walked away keeping his head down.
Honestly I didn’t know what to think or what to do. “My English sucks, probably I misunderstood” I thought to myself. But then, the day after, the news was everywhere: “Night Falls, and 5 Pointz, a Graffiti Mecca, Is Whited Out in Queens” was published by The NY Times. 20 years of street art history completely cancelled just in one night, to build an entirely new residential area. To make richer someone with deep pockets and cold heart.
I remember those days, I always feel both sad and lucky at the same time.
Because probably I am one of the last men on earth who had the opportunity to admire 5 Pointz. The Graffiti Mecca.