Friday, Jul 25, 2014 04:24 am est

Artists, residents grapple with potential 5Pointz demolition

Posted on October 28, 2013 | by Kevin Burns and Nicole Brown

Justin Lanier for WSN

As aerosol artists continue their fight to stop the demolition of 5Pointz, the graffiti mecca and art center in Long Island City, Queens, the 10-day restraining order on the owners of the 5Pointz property and developers G&M Realty ends today, Oct. 28.

Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall approved the developers’ $400 million plan in early October to build two apartment buildings on the site. Since then, Jonathan Cohen, 5Pointz curator, and 16 other artists filed a lawsuit against the preparation for the construction project. The artists won the restraining order that prevented the developers from continuing demolition preparation but also forbid any painting.

The artists hoped to use the time to prove that demolishing the building violates the Visual Rights Act of 1990 and to gain an injunction against G&M Realty. However, 5Pointz would not comment on the lawsuit or what they plan to do after the restraining order is lifted.

Jarek Szczesny, a Pennsylvania resident and artist who has been visiting Queens to paint on the building for the past five years, said he visited the site last weekend but was not allowed to paint.

Szczesny said destroying the cultural landmark would be detrimental to the neighborhood and it is the only reason he frequents Queens.

“That’s the only [attraction] you have in Queens,” Szczesny said. “What else do you have?”

Gallatin sophomore Catherine Schmitz, who has been researching 5Pointz for a class, explained that the owners of the building have the final say in the demolition.

Justin Lanier for WSN

“For a while, [the artists] tried to get it landmarked so the owner couldn’t touch the property and he would essentially be bought out,” Schmitz said. “But the problem is that once you landmark something, you can’t change it. So in the process of protecting it, you would also be killing 5Pointz.”

Schmitz said change is part of the purpose of 5Pointz, as artists are always painting over work from previous artists.

According to a Queen’s Courier article, the developers said the construction will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City and increase affordable housing units from 75 to 210. However, some members of the community emphasized the negative impacts of demolition.

Jackson Heights residents Paula and Jim Noone donated their black, early ’90s Oldsmobile Cutlass to 5Pointz as a symbol of protest against the developers. Cohen painted the car with 5Pointz’s emblem to advertise the location’s fight for survival.

“It’s a subversive art form that has been wiped from the streets,” Jim Noone said. “Where better to have a museum for street art than on the street?”

But Szeny said losing 5Pointz could result in an increase in vandalism, as 5Pointz is the only place people can legally paint graffiti.

“We don’t want [to be] known as vandalists,” Szczesny said. We just want to be known as artists.”

*A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Jarek Szczesny’s name. WSN regrets this error.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 28 print edition. Additional reporting by Mimi McCann. Nicole Brown is a news editor. Kevin Burns is a deputy news editor. Email them at  


  • Guest

    When would demolishion potentially begin?

  • Vanessa Morales

    When would demolition potentially begin?

profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.