5 Pointz

A city gem that’s due to be demolished.

It draws the attention of nearly every 7 subway train commuter that emerges from the depths of the MTA’s distinct network of rat-infested underground tunnels. Sleep-deprived Queens bound employees; seem awakened by the sight of this industrial depository that’s chock-a-block with murals of every imaginable hue. When the comatose straphangers of the 7 train see Five Pointz, the coffee seems to kick in.

An abandoned 20th century warehouse that’s dwarfed by a distant city skyline, Five Pointz is a hulking facility that provides a post-apocalyptic canvas for inner city artists. More than 350 Technicolor murals form a psychedelic concoction of urban and contemporary art, where eye-popping color explodes and swirls around every corner of this outdoor art exhibit. The industrial complex is situated in a neighborhood filled with burgeoning gallery spaces, yet it’s Five Pointz that draws the attention of those looking to marvel at true modern art. Aerosol artists from around the world, nearly 1,000 each year, come to leave their mark here at the epicenter of the graffiti scene. On many days, the sound of a DJ’s track competes with the shrieking brakes of the IRT Flushing line-circling overhead. Kick aside the discarded aerosol canisters populating the unkempt streets surrounding the former factory, and explore the crevices of this otherworldly, cultural gem.

Normally, being a graffiti artist is a furtive occupation where urban masters often lurk in the shadows waiting for their chance at spray-paint nirvana. That’s why Five Pointz is such an incredible find– it’s a graffiti Mecca located in a city where all other tagging is considered illegal. It’s unfortunate that developers plan to demolish this unique visual attraction later this year and replace it with cooperative high rises.


Photography Tips for 5 Pointz:

Shoot during times of shade and underexpose your photographs for higher contrast and saturation. Seek out characters or colorfully dressed subjects that can act as models and give the murals a sense of scale. Scout the factory and find areas where the colors are particularly vivid– those regions tend act as ideal backdrops.

*All images were taken with a Nikon D7000 and a Nikkor 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 ED lens*


Chase Guttman is the Managing Photo Editor of the Bronx Science Yearbook, the Observatory, and an award-winning and internationally published travel photographer. Guttman won a Grand Prize in National Geographic’s International Photography Contest for Kids, was named Young Travel Photographer of the Year in 2010, was called a Top Ten Travel Photographer by the New York Institute of Photography and was named an Emerging Photographic Talent by the Young Photographer’s Alliance just last month. Guttman’s photographs have been featured on the homepages of CNN.com, the Huffington Post and BBC.com. His photographs have been published in the famous Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the Polish magazine The Voyage, numerous hardcover books and a National Geographic Publication. In addition, Guttman was recently profiled in a New York Institute of Photography book entitled “Top Tips From Top Travel Photographers,” with an entire chapter devoted to his work. Having traveled to 42 countries and 47 American states, Chase has had the distinct opportunity to lead photography tours overseas, complete a month-long assignment for Fodors Travel Publications and have his photography exhibited at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London.  chaseguttman.com