5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’

The place you’re currently reading about only exists as a memory. Unfortunately, the fate of this art center is one of the most tragic stories of gentrification I may have ever seen. Decades of graffiti history reduced to rubble for the sake of “affordable housing and retail space.” When I was a kid, every time took the 7 train, I was always amazed at the graffiti I’d see on the building of 5 Pointz before going underground. The mural of the Notorious B.I.G. is iconic, and that image is burned into my brain. This place helped form my love for hip-hop as child. Little did I know, this place was also known as the graffiti center of the entire world. Artists from every corner of the planet would come to leave their mark on any inch of the building they could find. It was called “5 Pointz” because it was the point at which artists from all five boroughs could come and express their love for art and street culture. I’ll never forget when the announcement and eventual destruction of the building came to fruition. It was the pride of Queens, and the pride of perhaps thousands of people around the world, and its physically gone forever. It couldn’t even go away respectfully, one morning, New York City woke up to see white paint covering a portion of the beautiful art, even though demolition wasn’t scheduled for several more months. It was a huge slap to the face, but we fought back by re-drawing over the white paint. But it was hopeless. There’s really no happy ending to this story, but next week I’ll write about a possible resurgence of a new graffiti mecca, right next door to our beloved 5 Pointz. Unfortunately, the urban exploration bug didn’t bite me yet, so I never fully explored 5 Pointz. But I was just getting my feet wet as a photographer, so I snapped some shots on my first camera before it was destroyed. These photos are some of my very first ever.