If you follow my blog, you know that I have a slight obsession with street art (that’s putting it mildly) and that I try to satisfy that obsession with my travels. So, naturally when my birthday trip to the “Big Apple” came around, the first thing I did was diligently look into the best areas for murals and graffiti-clad buildings. It wasn’t easy, seeing that this was after all New York City and street art really is everywhere.
What I found is that while Manhattan itself has its graffiti’d walls here and there, Brooklyn has a large concentration of amazing murals in a neighborhood called Bushwick.
On the invitation of a new friend we made at a hotel bar (see my DUMBO video), my husband and I, with the help of a new app I downloaded, precariously worked our way through Manhattan’s complicated (not really) subway system and found our way to Williamburg, where we met our new friend Thomas, a French bartender who used to live on St. Martin years ago. Seriously. What are the odds?
From Williamsburg he guided us to what some locals refer to as the new Williamsburg or Bushwick. It’s another Brooklyn neighborhood located between Ridgewood, Queens and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Bushwick is a working class neighborhood with a large Dominican and Puerto Rican community. While it is not exactly an appealing neighborhood, the signs are all there that Bushwick is definitely up and coming. I even dare say that this is mainly due to all of the art.
The Bushwick Collective has turned this neighborhood into a true open air gallery, with stunning murals and gaffiti, communicating social and political issues on every corner.
Bushwick has become a tourist destination on its own thanks to the Collective. People flock to the streets of this once-grim neighborhood just to admire the art.
Although there are graffiti foot tours, we took advantage of having our own connoisseur of the area. Thomas knew where to take us and what to show us. Thanks to his knowledge of the neighborhood, we saw and experienced things we probably wouldn’t have, walking this neighborhood by ourselves. Also, the neighborhood did not exactly scream safety, so having him be our guide was most appreciated.
His time was unfortunately brief but we will forever be thankful for the afternoon he spent with us showing us around some of his favorite areas, vintage shopping, sipping coffee at odd holes in the wall and for patiently stopping at each mural for me to take dozens and dozens of photos.
Once by ourselves, my husband and I found our way to my favorite artist’s mural in the middle of the Bushwick Collective. If you ask me it ain’t a street art mecca without at least one piece by James Bullough. I was slightly disappointed to see how small his piece here is but at least it led us to an amazing pizza place next door, where we devoured one pizza each. All that walking sure made us hungry.
The neighborhood of Bushwick can be done in one afternoon. Be sure to go weekdays when it tends to be a little less busy with tourists. We were lucky as there were hardly anyone in the Bushwick Collective, the area where most of the art is concentrated. The freezing temperature might have had something to do with that. If you do not have your own “Thomas”, contact the Bushwick Collective about organized street art tours or self-guided tours.
Once you’ve admired all of the art in the Collective, stick around and check out the trendy eateries, coffee places and micro breweries.
Yes, Bushwick is the place to be for street art lovers and hipsters alike. It reminded me of Wynwood in Miami, another industrial and grim area converted into a trendy district. It might not yet have all the art galleries and cool hangout spots but it is definitely well on its way of becoming the Wynwood of the New York area.
Where have you seen the best collection of murals lately?
*The above is all based on my own personal opinion and experience.