Joni Mitchell wrote : “Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Well in this case, they’re tearing down paradise to put up a 1,000 unit high-rise. And paradise is located in Long Island City, Queens. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Bordering a Long Island Railroad rail yard and partially shadowed by the elevated subway tracks is 5Pointz, a collection of warehouses that would seem nondescript, were the facades not covered entirely in spectacular murals. This breathtaking display is the result of an ongoing collaboration with over 100 artists who come from far and wide to leave their mark on New York’s most famous graffiti destination.
For over a decade the art community and the owners of the property have peacefully coexisted, the result of an agreement allowing free and legal painting to take place on the facade. However, with the Long Island City real estate market booming, the owners have decided it is high-time to demolish the site in favor of luxury condos. The City Council quickly gave the projects two thumbs up, eager to bring in construction jobs, a public park and 210 affordable units.
To their credit, the developers have offered up 10,000 square feet of surfaces for artists to graffiti on the new construction. But this is miniscule compared to the space they use right now. And whether the community and its curator even want to be part of the new project is a different question. As of right now, the defenders of 5Pointz are on their last stand. If their final round of litigation fails, the historic warehouses will see the wrecking ball in a matter of weeks. Joni Mitchell might be the first to say: “I told you so.”