5 Pointz

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5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin'[1] or 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc., mainly referred to as simply 5 Pointz or 5Pointz, was an American mural space at 45–46 Davis Street in Long Island City, Queens, New York City, whose murals were exhibited mainly on the exterior walls of the building, drawn by artists from the world over. As of August 2014, 5 Pointz was in the process of being torn down and by November 2014 the building had been fully demolished, to be replaced by a condominium complex.


Highly visible from the New York City Subway's IRT Flushing Line (7 <7> trains),[2] it was considered to be "the world's premier graffiti mecca", where aerosol artists from around the globe painted colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory building.[3] While 5 Pointz was across Jackson Avenue from MoMA PS1, it was not associated with the Museum of Modern Art; instead, it was private property, owned by Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff.

It had housed the Crane Street Studios, in which 200 artists paid below-market rents for studio space. A 450-square-foot (42 m2) studio was listed as renting for $600 per month in 2009.[4] 5 Pointz was described by an About.com contributor in 2008 as "a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios".[5]

The name "5 Pointz" signifies the five boroughs coming together as one, but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex has united aerosol artists from across the world as well. Writers, including Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Cope2, Part, SPE, and TATS CRU, have come from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, and all over the United States to paint on the building's walls.[6] 5 Pointz had also been the subject of articles in newspapers such as The Christian Science Monitor,[6] The Boston Globe,[7] The New York Times,[1] and the International Herald Tribune.[8]

Context and usage

The building was originally constructed in 1892 for Neptune Meter as a factory for the construction of water meters.[2][9][10]

The property was bought in the 1970s by Jerry Wolkoff, who did not have immediate plans for redevelopment.[2][10] Wolkoff was approached in the 1990s for permission for the factory to be used for legal graffiti work, which he granted.[2] The site was first established as the Phun Phactory in 1993 by Pat DiLillo under a program called Graffiti Terminators to discourage graffiti vandalism by encouraging artists to display their work in a formal showcase.[11]

In 2002, Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist going under the moniker of Meres, began curating work.[6] If unfamiliar with an artist, Cohen will ask for a sample of their work, and if it is a mural, he will ask for a layout as well.[6] Around this time, Cohen gave the building the name "5 Pointz", which became popular.[10] He had plans to convert the 5 Pointz building into a graffiti museum.[3]

In April 2009, the New York City Department of Buildings ordered the largest building closed after citing it for numerous building deficiencies including the studio partitions which were built without permits. The inspections followed an incident on April 10, 2009, in which an artist was injured when part of a concrete fire escape collapsed.[4]

Demolition plans

File:5 Pointz 27.jpg
Mural detail

After 40 years of ownership, the Wolkoff family decided to develop the 5 Pointz site, stating that allowance of the murals on the building had been for temporary purposes and that redevelopment of the site had been planned ever since it started to be used for graffiti.[10] On August 21, 2013, the New York City Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve plans to build condos on the property, while the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a landmark status nomination by artists because the art was less than 30 years old at the time.[10] The development plans include two residential towers with retail space and affordable housing, for which purpose Wolkoff wanted to demolish 5Pointz by the end of 2013.[12] On October 9, the New York City Council unanimously approved the $400 million plan to build a 1,000 unit apartment complex with 210 affordable housing units included. The plan calls for 10,000 square feet (930 m2) to be used exclusively for art panels and walls in the building, including ground level facades to be used for curated graffiti.[10][13][14]

On November 19, the graffiti on the exterior of the 5 Pointz building was painted white overnight,[15] providing images that showed the building's previously graffiti-covered walls partially covered in white paint. A message posted to 5 Pointz's Twitter account on the morning of November 19 confirmed the reports.[16] Despite a lawsuit filed by 5 Pointz proprietors, as well as a rally three days prior to gain petition signatures to protect the building from demolition,[17] the sudden whitewashing indicated that it was already gone. However, on November 20, a ruling by a federal judge stated that the whitewashing could result in the Wolkoff family having to pay damages to 5 Pointz artists.[18]

Asbestos abatement work began on the property in February 2014, the first step in the building demolition process. During this period a group of urban explorers entered to document the building's interior.[19] as of August 2014, 5 Pointz was nearly fully demolished.[20] By November 2014, most of the building was reduced to rubble, while part of the building's shell still stood.[21]


News of the building's demolition was generally negatively received by artists, and at least two works of protest have been done upon the building. On February 3, 2014, in protest of the building's demolition, artists sprayed "Art Murder" in big blue and red letters on the side of the building.[22] On March 10, 2014, upset artists, who had lost a proposal to attain landmark status for the building, staged a protest by draping a large yellow "Gentrification In Progress" banner around the building.[23][24][25] According to an article in Complex magazine in November 2014, some artists felt that they had been disrespected when the murals were painted over, and that they had lost a sense of community with the demolition of the building. Additionally, the destruction of 5 Pointz resulted in a scarcity of cheap and legal mural spaces, according to one artist interviewed. In lieu of 5 Pointz, some mural artists are going to Jersey City and the Bronx instead.[26]

Another, similar controversy arose when Wolkoff decided to use "5 Pointz" as the name for the new condominiums being constructed on 5 Pointz's site.[27] He had claimed to own the rights to the building's name because he owned the building;[28] however, an application to trademark the name was rejected in March 2014 because it was too close to a similar, existing trademark.[29] Wolkoff has said that the name refers to the building site, not the art; his comment had insulted some artists at the site, with two artists saying that "it's ironic that the same corporation which single-handedly destroyed all the artwork known as 5Pointz is trying to capitalize on its name" and that "the disrespect continues".[29]

In popular culture

File:5 Pointz Jam Master Jay Mural.JPG
Mural of Jam Master Jay at 5 Pointz. This was among one of the first graffiti at the site.

In 2011, 5 Pointz was the fictionalized site of a major fire in the series finale of "Rescue Me" [19]

The building has served as a backdrop for movies, including the climax for the 2013 film Now You See Me.[2]

The striking, graffiti-covered warehouse has been used in music videos as well. Such videos are usually by several hip-hop and R&B stars, including Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Caz, Mobb Deep, Rahzel, DJ JS-1, Boot Camp Clik, Joan Jett, and Joss Stone.[1][3] In December 2014, before its final demolition, it was used in the King Truelove Christmas video "X Spells Christmas", written by John Truelove and directed by Terry King.[30]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bayliss, Sarah (August 3, 2004). "Museum With (Only) Walls". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 3, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2008. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sara Frazier and Jeff Richardson (2013-11-19). "5Pointz Building, Graffiti Mecca in Queens, Painted Over During the Night". NBC 4 New York. NBC Universal Media. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 5ptz.com, official website. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Buckley, Cara (April 18, 2009). "One Artist Is Hurt, and 200 Others Are Feeling the Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  5. Roleke, John. "5 Pointz - Graffiti Mecca and Home to Artists". About.com. Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Kiper, Dmitry (July 24, 2007). "Curator of an urban canvas article". The Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2008. 
  7. Wallgren, Christine (June 24, 2007). "Graffiti crew wants a place to call its own". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on May 30, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008. 
  8. "Graffiti artists find legal haven in New York City". International Herald Tribune. August 12, 2007. Archived from the original on April 6, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008. 
  9. "When the 5Pointz Warehouse Was Home to Neptune Meter". queens.brownstoner.com. December 16, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "Night Falls, and 5Pointz, a Graffiti Mecca, Is Whited Out in Queens". The New York Times. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  11. Weir, Richard (February 15, 1998). "Wall Hits a Patron of Graffiti". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  12. "The City Planning Commission Votes for Big Changes in Queens Today | Brownstoner Queens". Queens.brownstoner.com. September 15, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  13. "Lawmaker: Deal Reached On 5Pointz Redevelopment Plan « CBS New York". Newyork.cbslocal.com. October 9, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  14.  . "Deal Reached For '5Pointz' Development In Queens". NY1. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  15. "Breaking: 5 Pointz was painted white overnight". Time Out New York. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  16. "5 Pointz Is Gone" Tweet
  17. 5 Pointz Petition Rally Rally information on 5ptz.com
  18. "Graffiti mecca 5Pointz whitewash could cost owners some green". NY Daily News. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 "5 Pointz Explored". ltvsquad.com. March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  20. "RIP 5 Pointz". August 25, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  21. "Photos of 5Pointz's Heartbreaking Demolition". Complex. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  22. Turco Bucky (3 February 2014). "5 POINTZ SPRAYED WITH "ART MURDER"". Animal New York. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  23. Mathias, Christopher (10 March 2014). "New York's Graffiti Mecca Receives Another Makeover In Protest Of Gentrification". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  24. "Protesters hang "gentrification in progress" sign on 5 Pointz". The Real Deal. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  25. ""Gentrification in Progress" Banner Appears on 5Pointz Building". Queens Courier. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  26. Silver, Leigh (19 November 2014). "Remembering 5 Pointz: A Community Reminisces on What Was So Much More Than Just a Legendary Graffiti Spot". Complex. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  27. Mallika Rao (7 November 2014). "5 Pointz Landlord Says He Won't Back Down On Using The Graffiti Mecca's Name". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  28. Mallika Rao (6 November 2014). "5Pointz Landlord Claims He Owns The Name Of The Graffiti 'Temple' He Destroyed". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 Jeanmarie Evelly (4 November 2014). "5Pointz Developer Wants to Trademark Name and Use it for New High Rises". DNAInfo. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  30. "X Spells Christmas" - King Truelove Christmas 2014 on YouTube. Retrieved December 24, 2014. The shell of 5 Pointz can be seen behind the elevated subway tracks, to the left, from 0:00 to 2:50.

External links

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