New York: East Village & NoLita Street Art

The East Village & NoLita Street Art is some of the best in the city.  Historically poor areas, today both, and the bordering Lower East Side are to a large extent gentrified. Thankfully, the street art scene is still intact, in part because it’s tolerated and in part because those that have moved into the area see it as part of the “cool” that adds to the area’s amenity.

east village street art

east village street art

east village street art

This typifies exactly what I love about New York. A tiny space in between a store and a bar, and it’s used to broadcast a radio station. The whole space was literally just this, and what the DJ was spinning is what was on air live.

east village street art

east village street art

east village street art

east village street art

The East Village used to be a Dutch owned farm, with wealthy townhouses, then from the 1850s to the early 20th century, it was known as “Little Germany”, and was New York’s first foreign language neighbourhood. In the 1950s, it was home to many beatnicks, and then became a hotbed for hippies, artists, musicians and alternative types in the 1960s and it’s where New York’s Punk music scene originated.

During the 1970s and 1980s, it was considered one of the most dangerous parts of New York, with rampant homelessness, crime and drug use.

Since the 1990s, the area has gentrified and, in a theme which I have brought up in many previous posts, this has its pros and cons. It’s no longer unsafe, and along with the still present counter culture and arts scene in the area, there are great cafes, bars, restaurants and shops – independent and international.

This is a perfect sign of the area’s gentrification.  At first sight, this looks like street art.  Closer inspection reveals that it’s an advertisement for “Blue Moon”.  Blue Moon is a craft beer brewed by Blue Moon Brewing Company.  Upon further inspection however, one finds out that Blue Moon Brewing Company is owned by MillerCoors, one of the largest beer companies in the world.  The below advertisement, while looking quite good, is a slap in the face to all of the real street artists in the area producing great independent work, often with a political or social message (and often just to entertain).

Of course by me taking a photo of this, including it in a post about East Village Street Art, and talking about it, the advertising tactic has worked perfectly.  What is one to do?

east village street art

east village street art

Another mosaic by French street artist “Invader”.  I’ve seen his space invader mosaics in almost every city that I’ve been to in the world.

NoLita (“North of Little Italy”) also has lots of street art and interesting buildings.

This entire building was probably the most run down, intact building I saw in New York. Drug Den was the first thing that popped to mind, which could possibly be the case given that the area (back in Bowery) epitomised the “crime city” that New York was back in the 1970s and 80s.

I really wanted to check out the New Museum, which is full of modern art, but it was closed for re-installation when I went . The materials used to clad the building are really cool and it looks amazing in real life – very metallic.

New Art Museum New York

Heading uptown towards Union Square, the amount of street art slowly started to decrease, however there were still some gems to be found.

This piece was hidden behind a garden to the side of a building.

There’s nothing particularly special about this convenience store, but it’s typical of the kind of convenience stores you see all over the city.



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