This post lists 11 locations in NYC, accessible for visitors, where you can find high-quality street art including murals and graffiti created by street artists.
Since the end of the 1960s, aerosol paint has been an outlet and a powerful tool for social change.
Using tags, stencils, and murals, graffiti writers and street artists alike, communicate to the masses individual expression, social commentary, environmental concerns, and cultural frustration about consumerism.
It used to be that if you wanted to see the new graffiti you either had to live in the inner city or wait for a graffiti artist to emblaze their name across the subway car.
However, nowadays, new murals are popping up every day in the concrete jungle. And although NYC may no longer be in an economic crisis, the art canvased across the city still does personify urban living and the vibe of the people.
1. Bushwick Collective
To see a collection of stunning murals, head to the Bushwick Collective. There is so much artwork to see you won’t be able to stop talking about it for weeks.
The Bushwick Collective is located in Bushwick Brooklyn, just off of Flushing Avenue.
It is approximately a 7-8 minute walk from the nearest train station Jefferson Street (L train).
We recommend using this Google map to get directions to the Bushwick Collective from anywhere in New York City.
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-like Bushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour.
2. World Trade Mural Project
For years, Ground Zero was a construction zone that reminded New Yorkers and visitors of the September 11th attacks.
But if you visit the World Trade Center’s Oculus today, you will see the work of some of our favorite street artists commissioned by 2WTC.
Artists: BoogieRez, Stickymonger, JCBKNY Photo by: tour guide Mar
Don’t miss these eye-catching walls, which have given downtown Manhattan a new sense of hope.
Mar and Izzy, street art tour guides with Free Tours by Foot, are proud to have consulted on the World Trade Mural Street Art Project, which was a result of their co-curating the 69th floor of 4WTC.
They are the tour guides leading street art and graffiti tours for Free Tours by Foot.
And you can see this artwork on our Lower Manhattan Tours as well.
3. Harlem Street Art + Grafitti
Harlem is definitely worth a visit for street art, particularly murals.
We spot at least 5 different murals on our tours of Harlem, including the Know Your Rights mural.
There is one particularly large mural on the side of the Harlem Hospital, which consists of 3 panels telling stories of the African-American experience in the U.S. and was commissioned back in the Great Depression.
In East Harlem, there is the Graffiti Hall of Fame, which still periodically invites lesser-known artists to come and paint their murals.
Unfortunately, most of the artwork is behind a gate, but you can still see it from a distance.
A pair of relatively new murals to the neighborhood are of Dizzie Gillespie, the great jazz musician well associated with Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.
4. Houston Bowery Wall
In 1982, legendary artist Keith Haring painted his first iconic large-scale mural on a wall on the corner of Houston St. and Bowery (map).
Back then, that wall and building were privately owned and Haring and the artists who followed his lead had no permission to paint there.
Fortunately, the property was bought by a real estate developer who was also an art aficionado, Tony Goldman.
In 2008, Goldman brought on well-known curator Jeffrey Deitch to manage the wall (he was then replaced by the owner of a contemporary art gallery, The Hole).
In the video, you can see a time-lapse of artist Ron English transforming the wall into his unique style of mural art.
English has also contributed to the L.I.S.A. Project that has artworks on walls throughout Little Italy.)
Select artists from around the world are invited to bring their unique style to the wall. The wall is repainted by new artists every several months.
Past murals included works by Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf, AIKO, Os Gemeos, and many others.
TIP: This seminal street art wall is included in our pay-what-you-like Manhattan Graffiti and Street Art Tour. Your guide will discuss the history of the wall as well as the current mural on the wall when you visit.
5. The Little Italy Street Art Project (L.I.S.A.)
This non-profit organization brings street artists to the Little Italy neighborhood in Lower Manhattan to paint murals on the walls of participating businesses and residential buildings, mostly along historic Mulberry Street.
There are several important pieces here, though they do change periodically.
Audrey Hepburn Mural
There are so many that we visit Mulberry Street on our Lower Manhattan Street Art Tour. We also walk through on our Downtown and NYC in a Day Tours.
Find out more about the project on their website: https://www.lisaprojectnyc.org/.
6. The Museum of Street Art
This relatively new museum, located in the basement of a new Bowery hotel, CitizenM, is a family reunion of sorts for the original artists of 5Pointz in Long Island City.
The museum is free of charge but you should make a reservation because it's more a stairwell than a traditional museum and they limit the number of people in it at any time.
The museum is just 1 block away from the start of our Lower Manhattan Street Art Tour, something you could do just before the tour begins.
7. The High Line
This revolutionary park that sits on the remains of an elevated commercial rail line on Manhattan's West Side has a changing contemporary public art program that includes murals.
But it's also the street art that is parked up alongside the High Line that is of interest to the visitor.
8. First Street Green Art Park
A must-see space located in the East Village is the First Street Green Art Park.
You can find the entrance to the park on the corner of Houston Street and 2nd Ave (map).
This public space supports emerging artists who work in different mediums. You can see large murals, photography, and art installations.
There are also community and cultural events held there.
TIP: On our pay-what-you-like Manhattan Graffiti and Street Art Tour, a knowledgeable guide leads you to this park and other street art hot spots.
Along the way, you will learn about the artists whose work you see and about the neighborhoods you pass through on the tour.
Be sure to also check out the East Village.
9. Welling Court Mural Project (WCMP)
A little off-the-beaten-path, but well worth the trip is the WCMP, in Astoria, Queens (map).
You can get there easily by subway but you can also take the East River Commuter Ferry!
The WCMP is a massive collection of murals meant to beautify the neighborhood and transform how people experience their environment.
The project was launched in 2010 as a way to beautify the neighborhood.
The first mural project had over 40 murals. Now the WCMP has more than 140 murals by locals and international artists.!
It is free to visit and open to the public 24/7, all year long. See the WCMP website for more information.
10. DUMBO Walls
The DUMBO Walls project began in 2012.
Eight walls near the York Street subway station were selected as sites for large murals by famed artists like Shepard Fairey, MOMO, Yuko Shimizu, and several more.
Some of these eight sites 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 pops up in DUMBO constantly, so be on the lookout for random art in unexpected places!
Contributions to this post by Izzy and Mar.