top of page

5 most iconic murals in New York City

New York City is famous for its thriving street art scene, which has been a part of the city's culture

for decades. From the gritty graffiti of the 1970s and 80s, to the vibrant murals and installations of

today, the city's streets are alive with creative expression.

One of the most popular locations for street art in New York City is Bushwick, a neighborhood in

Brooklyn that has become a hub for artists and creatives. With its streets covered in colorful

murals and graffiti, the neighborhood has hosted an annual street art festival called Bushwick

Collective since 2012.

Another popular destination for street art enthusiasts is the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The

area is home to the legendary Bowery Mural, which has been painted over by a rotating cast of

artists since 1982. Recent artists to paint the mural include Kehinde Wiley and JR.

Whether you are a longtime resident, or a first-time visitor, exploring the streets of New York City

and discovering its hidden works of art is a must-do experience.

Each of these murals is not only visually impactful but represents a social commentary and is

embedded with cultural relevance.

While it is impossible to narrow down the best murals in the city to just five, here are some of the most impressive and iconic pieces of public art you can find in New York.

1. The Bowery Wall by Tristan Eaton

New York City’s historic Houston Bowery Wall has been given a complete transformation thanks to

international street artist Tristan Eaton. Eaton spent over a week completing the expansive

outdoor mural titled Intermission. The artwork was done entirely freehand with spray paint.

The artist’s words are the best to describe his work:

“I wanted to paint imagery that triggers the imagination and recalls memories of beauty, joy, and escapism. From juicy fruit and gold chains to Sci-Fi and race cars, the collage of whimsical imagery serves as a launch pad for a momentary mental vacation. I believe that even a brief moment of wonder and curiosity can be therapeutic and deeply helpful. I was compelled to paint something intentionally apolitical. A literal INTERMISSION from the noise and madness - nothing more”.

2. Crack is Wack, Keith Haring

This is one of the most powerful pieces of social commentary. Located on a handball court in East

Harlem, the mural was executed independently, without permission from the city.

The mural serves as a warning against crack cocaine use, which was rampant in major cities across the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s and is a reminder of Haring's commitment to social justice and his dedication to using art to make a difference.

3. The Chronicles of New York, JR

French artist and photographer JR’s latest work ‘The Chronicles of New York’ is a 53-foot-high

mural that depicts over 1,000 New Yorkers. Installed on stacked shipping containers in

Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the black-and-white mural is JR’s biggest public project in the city.

To create the piece, JR individually photographed people from all five boroughs and then collaged

their images together into one collective portrait, depicting the diversity and strength of the city's

inhabitants and celebrating the power of community.

4. Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi Mural, Kobra

Throughout 2018, Kobra added color to the New York City landscape with an incredible series

of giant murals dedicated to iconic figures who have promoted peace, searching to inspire

public dialogue on race, violence, and the cause of immigrants.

Most of Kobra’s works are portraits punched up with vibrant hues, and his subjects range from entertainers to humanitarians or physicists. Like many other street artists, Kobra uses his murals as a platform for his political and social views. Here you can see the one he realized to celebrate World

Humanitarian Day, portraying Mother Teresa and Gandhi in his colorful kaleidoscopic style.

5. Hammer Boy, Banksy

Banksy is a famous and anonymous street artist known over the world for his thought-provoking

street art, among which is his Hammer Boy. It has become one of the top attractions in the

Upper West Side.

The piece is simply made from black paint, cast against a light, clean, beige wall. This

contrast, as well as the clean, simple look of the painting, keeps the attention on what the

painting is of and on its meaning. However, since Banksy never explained the intended

meaning behind his works, everything that exists is pure speculation. For sure, “Hammer Boy”

adds the street culture’s vibrations to a quiet and clean part of the city.


bottom of page