Brooklyn is known worldwide for its street art. The murals, wheat pastes, graffiti and stencils you can see here are every bit as good as the street art you will find anywhere in NYC.
In fact, today’s street art originated in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The 1970s saw the rise of graffiti on the side of subway cars. Since the train yards were located in Brooklyn, many Brooklyn graffiti artists became known for their work.
Of course, society viewed subway graffiti as vandalism. But as subway graffiti developed from random spray paint scrawlings into thought-out large scale murals with unique styles, it came to be recognized as a new form of art.
From 1972 to 1989, the New York City Transit Authority spent hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up subway cars. The city cracked down on the artists and littery stopped subway art in its tracks.
Artists moved to the streets, using walls as canvasses. Thus, street art was born. Today, street art is displayed in museums and art galleries around the world.
But the best way to see street art is on the streets of the city. A trip to Brooklyn is well worth the time
TIP: If you prefer a guided tour, which offers a brief history of the neighborhood, and a detailed description of the murals then, be sure to go on our pay-what-you-likeBushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour.
2) DUMBO Walls
The DUMBO Walls started in 2012. Eight walls near the York Street subway station were chosen as sites for several large murals by renowned artists like Shepard Fairey, MOMO, Yuko Shimizu and others.
Some of these sites still have the original murals, others have new ones.
For example, as of 2019, one can still see the original, though somewhat faded, Shepard Fairey mural at the corner of York and Jay Street.
Also, some of CAM’s huge colorful owls are still visible along York Street between Adams and Pearl Street.
Other walls have had several new murals since the DUMBO Walls were installed, like the corrugated metal wall on Front Street between Adams Street and Pearl Street.
Street art is temporary in nature. There may be a specific artist’s mural on a wall one year and then the following year a new mural may be painted.
On the positive side, all sorts of art pop up in DUMBO constantly, so be on the lookout for random art in unexpected places!
Use this map to find the DUMBO Walls. Be sure to look at our post on things to do in DUMBO to find out what else to do there.
Decades ago Williamsburg, in particular, the area close to the East River, was for industrial use. Warehouses lined the streets.
Now, the former industrial part of the neighborhood is a residential magnet for young urban professionals and the old warehouses have been converted into condominiums.
However, there are still some of the old warehouses that have not been converted. They remain as large ‘canvasses’ inviting street artists.
At the corner of Bedford Ave. and North 9th Street you can see the well-known mural of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat painted by Brazilian artist Kobra.
North 6th Street between Bedford and Kent Avenues is a location to check out. Some artists whose work has appeared on walls in this area include Banksy and ROA. Also you may find some excellent works on Moore Street and Wythe Avenue.
Stroll the area and discover for yourself. You never know whose work will show up next!
4) JMZ Walls
Named for the subway lines that run through this part of Bushwick, the project started in 2014 by a local artist, Alberto Mejia.
With the goal of beautifying the neighborhood, Mejia asked building owners if they would allow artists to use the building walls as canvasses.
He was successful and what started as a grass-roots group of locals has grown into an organized collective.
The JMZ Walls continues to connect artists with businesses and property owners who ‘donate’ their walls, storefront gates or other spaces for the creation of large murals.
To see these walls, we suggest that you take the above-ground subway lines, the J/M/Z. Get off at Marcy Avenue Station. From there, walk along Broadway which is parallel to the elevated tracks.
5) Coney Island Art Walls
Located near the famous Coney Island Boardwalk, there are over 30 walls dedicated to murals, curated by Joseph J. Sitt & Jeffrey Deitch.
This ‘outdoor museum’ of street art has included murals by famous artists like Lee Quinones, Aiko, Alexis Diaz, Buff Monster, Ron English, and many more.
The below video about the Coney Walls was made by artist Ron English. The little green fella is “Temper Tot” a creation of English’s you can see in Little Italy as part of the L.I.S.A. Project.
The Coney Art Walls are located at 3050 Stillwell Avenue (map). Be sure to check the website for dates/hours when you can see them as they are only accessible seasonally.
The curator, Jeff Beler, lived locally and had been eyeing for years these walls on what was an abandoned building. In 2015, he finally contacted the building owner who liked the idea of the property being beautified. The rest is history.
While the Underhill Walls project is smaller and lesser-known than the other locations in this post, it is worth a visit if you are heading to the excellent Brooklyn Museum, just a six-minute walk from the murals.
Well, it’s mostly winter-like with daily afternoon high temperatures mostly in the upper 30’s f to near 40 f (3-5 c), however, 2-3 days will still likely produce highs reaching into the low to mid-50’s f (11-12 c). Read more »