5 Pointz

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Front and side of 5 Pointz
Rear of the 5 Pointz building.

5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin'[1] or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. (45–46 Davis Street) was an American outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City in Queens, New York, considered to be the world's premiere "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.[2]

The complex is across Jackson Avenue from MoMA PS1 but is not associated with MoMA. It is privately owned by Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff, and houses the Crane Street Studios in which 200 artists pay below market rents for studio space. In 2009, a 450-square-foot (42 m2) studio was listed as renting for $600 per month.[3]

As of August 2014, 5 Pointz was in the process of being torn down.[4]


The building was originally constructed, in 1892 for Neptune Meter, as a factory for the construction of water meters.[5][6]

The property was bought in the 1970s by Jerry Wolkoff, who did not have immediate plans for redevelopment.[5] Wolkoff was approached in the 1990s, and gave his permission, for the factory to be used for legal graffiti work.[5] 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.[7]

In 2002, Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist operating under the name "Meres" began curating the work.[8] If he is not familiar with an artist, Cohen will ask for a sample of their work; if it is a mural, he will ask for a layout as well.[8] The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs coming together as one but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex has actually united aerosol artists from across the world. Writers from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, and all over the United States have painted on the building walls, including Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Cope2, Part, SPE, and TATS CRU.

In April 2009, the New York City Buildings department 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.[3]

Demolition Plans[edit]

After 40 years of ownership, the Wolkoff family decided to develop the 5 Pointz site. On August 21, 2013, the New York City Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve plans to build condos on the property. The development plans include two residential towers with retail space and affordable housing. The developer, David Wolkoff, wanted to demolish 5Pointz by the end of 2013.[9] The New York City Council, on October 9, 2013, 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 exclusively for art panels and walls in the building, including ground level facades to be used for curated graffiti.[10][11]

Time Out New York reported on November 19, 2013 that the graffiti on the exterior of the 5 Pointz building was painted white overnight,[12] providing images that showed the building's previously graffiti-covered walls partially covered in white paint. A message posted to the 5 Pointz Twitter account the morning of November 19 confirmed the reports.[13] Despite a lawsuit filed by 5 Pointz proprietors as well as a rally on November 16, 2013, to gain petition signatures to protect the building from demolition, the sudden whitewashing indicates the end of the space.[14]

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.[15]


John Roleke of About.com writes[16] "5 Pointz is a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios". 5 Pointz is known worldwide, and taggers or graffiti artists from all over the world have come there to paint graffiti.[8] 5 Pointz has been the subject of articles in newspapers such as The Christian Science Monitor,[8] The Boston Globe,[17] The New York Times,[1] and the International Herald Tribune.[18]

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.[19] On March 10, 2014, upset artists, who were fighting for National Register of Historic Places landmark status for the building, staged a protest by draping a large yellow "Gentrification In Progress" banner around the building.[20][21][22]

Use in Media[edit]

The striking, graffiti-covered warehouse has been used in music videos 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][2] One of the first graffiti there was a portrait of Jam-Master Jay, an important member of the early hip hop musical style.[citation needed]

In 2011, 5 Pointz was the fictionalized site of a major fire in the series finale of "Rescue Me" [15]

The building has also served as a backdrop for movies, including the climax for the 2013 film Now You See Me.[5]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b [1]. 5ptz.com.
  3. ^ a b Buckley, Cara (April 18, 2009). "One Artist Is Hurt, and 200 Others Are Feeling the Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ "RIP 5 Pointz". August 25, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d 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. 
  6. ^ "When the 5Pointz Warehouse Was Home to Neptune Meter". queens.brownstoner.com. December 16, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ Weir, Richard (February 15, 1998). "Wall Hits a Patron of Graffiti". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d 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. 
  9. ^ "The City Planning Commission Votes for Big Changes in Queens Today | Brownstoner Queens". Queens.brownstoner.com. September 15, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Lawmaker: Deal Reached On 5Pointz Redevelopment Plan « CBS New York". Newyork.cbslocal.com. October 9, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  11. ^  . "Deal Reached For '5Pointz' Development In Queens". NY1. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Breaking: 5 Pointz was painted white overnight". 
  13. ^ "5 Pointz Is Gone" Tweet
  14. ^ 5 Pointz Petition Rally Rally information on 5ptz.com
  15. ^ a b "5 Pointz Explored". ltvsquad.com. March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  16. ^ Roleke, John. "5 Pointz - Graffiti Mecca and Home to Artists". About.com. Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ Turco Bucky (3 February 2014). "5 POINTZ SPRAYED WITH "ART MURDER"". Animal New York. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Mathias, Christopher (10 March 2014). "New York's Graffiti Mecca Receives Another Makeover In Protest Of Gentrification". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "Protesters hang "gentrification in progress" sign on 5 Pointz". The Real Deal. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  22. ^ ""Gentrification in Progress" Banner Appears on 5Pointz Building". Queens Courier. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′43″N 73°56′44″W / 40.745152°N 73.94567°W / 40.745152; -73.94567