Over the last few decades street art has gone from an act of rebellion to a respected form of art. The best Murals in New York City are admired by both those who love to wander aimlessly as well as connoisseurs who seek them out.
As someone who lives in New York I found myself amazed by the colossal murals that bring the city to life. I’ve also been blown-away by the talent and gall of the artists behind the most epic murals in New York City.
New York City unequivocally has the ability to inspire. Hence why artists from all around flock here to add their little mark to the city. In the Big Apple you can find the creme de la creme when it comes to murals, and I aim to make that a little more manageable for you. So without further ado, let’s dive into the best murals in New York City.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Where to see the best street art in New York city
The lively neighborhood has long been home to artists and the streets reflect it. Always at the forefront of ingenuity the area comes alive with character and color.
Chelsea is home to the High Line, where you will find incredible art pieces. The neighborhood is also quickly growing. The increase in foot traffic is bringing more attractions, like some of the best Murals in New York City.
Also known as “El Barrio” this community is historically Hispanic. The streets showcase the vibrancy of its resident and make for great street art viewing. It’s also a great spot for Puerto Rican food.
#15. Audrey Hepburn
Tristan Eaton participated in the Little Italy Street Art (LISA) Project to create this colorful rendition of Audrey Hepburn back in 2013. It’s doing extraordinarily well for a mural that’s nearing 10 years of age. You can find the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star at the corner of Mulberry and Broome Street, and it’s quite difficult to walk by without being awestruck by the pop of color.
Eaton did an incredible job at capturing Hepburn’s legacy in such a vibrant statement. It’s evident Eaton was moved when he used Hepburn as his muse to create one of the best murals in New York City. The scenery is fitting too. Mulberry is bustling with life and excitement.
Combining her beauty with his talent, the mural is captivating to people of all generations. Yet another great thing about this beautiful mural in New York City is how accessible it is. It’s commonplace to see folks waiting for a picture with it.
Address: 176 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
#14. I Love NY
You know when you love something so much you just want the world to know? Well, what better way than to spray paint it on a parking garage in Chelsea?
Nick Walker created one of the best murals in New York City by alluding to the famous “I <3 NY” shirts.
The old school feel of a man in a pin stripe suit, mixed with the playfulness of him balancing on one leg trying to complete his work makes for a memorable piece of art.
I’ll admit, the first time I saw this artwork I couldn’t help but laugh. This iconic New York City mural leaves so much room to your imagination. To see a polished man in a suit spray painting something silly on a wall, it’s comical. It created this idea in my head that at the end of the day, no matter who you are or where you come from-we can all come together and agree New York City is something else.
Address: 102 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
#13. 2 World Trade Center
The World Trade Center has had a long road in rebuilding after the attacks on September the 11th. Attracting millions of visitors annually, the folks tasked with the rebuild wanted the campus to resonate with energy and positivity so they invited well known local artists to create some of the best murals in New York City.
The buildings overflow with vibrant colors and there is something new to see around every corner. Although there was no unifying theme during the original painting, the artwork feels coherent and engaging. The campus itself is the canvas rather than just a facade. Not to mention color is a welcome sight in the usually gray Financial District. Most of the murals can be found at 2 World Trade Center, just north of the Oculus Mall.
When I have guests visiting from out of town it’s near impossible to not by stop the 9/11 Memorial or Oculus Mall. Seeing that we get to take in some of the best New York City murals while we’re there makes for a remarkable experience.
Address: Two World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007
#12. Rice Terraces
During the early 20th century Doyers Street, in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, was a dangerous place to be. In fact the bend in the road came to be known as the “bloody angle” after violent gang altercations that took place here.
Today however it is simply another neighborhood street with barbershops, a post office and New York’s oldest dim sum restaurant.
Doyers Street is also home to one of the best murals in NYC. In 2021 Chilean artist Dasic Fernández partnered with NYC’s Department of Transportation Art to transform the historic street into a vivid corridor that attracts New York City street art lovers. Named “Rice Terraces,” this epic New York City mural is a nod to the famed rice paddy fields in China.
In full transparency in 2022 it is not what it was a year ago. The road gets used and wears with time. However it is still one of the best murals in New York City, which is enough to warrant a visit!
Address: Doyer St. New York, NY 10013
#11. The Braves of 9/11
September the 11th was a day of horrific loss and tragedy, and it was also a day that made heroes. It goes without saying that first responders saved countless lives that day. America and New York City owe them an unplayable debt.
Eduardo Kobra is originally from Brazil but still beautifully pays tribute to those courageous individuals. He presents a firefighter kneeling over the stars of the American flag with the stripes of the flag behind him. The stripes also double as the Twin Towers. It’s a touching reminder to be thankful of the people who help keep NYC safe, and makes for one of the best murals in New York City.
There is currently work going on outside the building where this mural was painted but it’s massive and can still be viewed.
Address: 780 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017
#10. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
New York City has no shortage of hometown heroes in need of homage. After The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed in September 2020 little time was wasted creating her tribute. A four-story mural in the East Village now commemorates her life and story.
Elle Street Art, the artist who created the mural, partnered with LISA (Little Italy Street Art Project) to bring us one of the best murals in New York City. In the piece she offers a glimpse into the monumental life and career of RBG.
The mural does a phenomenal job at showing us the monumental career of RBG. There’s the Statue of The Contemplation of Justice, which sits outside the Supreme Court. The blue behind Ginsburg represents the ceiling in the Library of Congress. There is a faint crown on her head which alludes to the famous “King of New York” photo of Biggie Smalls (whom she gets her “Notorious RBG” nickname from). On her left you’ll see the Brooklyn Bridge, a nod to her childhood borough.
Address: 177 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003
Women belong in all places where decisions are being made
Ruth bader ginsburg
#9. We Love NY2
Another epic mural in New York City brought to us by the talented Kobra is the “ We Love NY2” mural located in Chelsea. Kobra’s specialty is creating art that’s realistic, massive and loud.
This New York City mural is everything a true Einstien fan could hope for. The playful artwork displays the silliness and enthusiasm of New York City perfectly.
The genius that Kobra is, used the memorable photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue and gave him a rebellious side. Heck, if a Nobel Prize-winning physicist loves this city enough to vandalize it, it oughta be a good city.
Compared to Kobra’s other murals, you’ll find that this one isn’t as vibrant as some of his others. But don’t worry- the perfectly executed New York City mural pops in color where it matters! The giant red heart is the first place your eyes wonder. Which really forces you to step back and take in what’s right in front of you.
Address: 212 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011
#8. Black and White
It’s difficult to talk about the best murals in New York City without mentioning Kobra a million times. But seriously, his work is just that good!
The next time you find yourself perusing the East Village, make sure you check out “Black or White”.
Today, you’ll find flocks of visitors and fans taking pictures of the mural and with the mural, as the vibrant colors take up a 5 story building. The size and composure speaks to Kobra’s style and he nailed it.
“…the mural itself is not a simple tribute to MJ. My entire idea was to show the transformations he went through during his entire life: from black to white, kid to adult, from natural to unnatural. The whole project that I did in NYC last year was about peace, and in that mural in particular I was trying to describe that people sometimes have to go through so much to be able to reach their own peace of mind.. and even then, sometimes [it] doesn’t matter what people do, they can never reach that peace.”
Eduardo Kobra to timeout in 2019
Address: 400 E 11th St, New York, NY 10011
#7. Crack is Wack
Artist Keith Haring was arrested after creating his iconic “Crack Is Wack” mural in 1985, but after news outlets and the community rallied behind his anti-drug activism he was let off with a small fine. The famous New York City mural is a testament to the stranglehold crack cocaine held on major cities across the U.S. and the frustrations Haring felt after a personal friend became addicted.
The current mural isn’t the original Keith Haring painted in June of 1986, but it’s still just as amazing. Shortly after completion it was vandalized and then painted over by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
However luckily for us the Parks Department commissioner invited him to repaint it in October of 1986 bringing back to us one of the best New York City murals we have today.
Address: E 128 St, 2 Ave & Harlem River Drive
#6. Mt. Rushmore of Art
If you don’t have a trip to South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore planned anytime soon don’t fret, I got you covered. Above the Empire Diner in Chelsea you will find Eduardo Kobra’s “Mount Rushmore of Art.”
In his tribute to some of modern art’s biggest players he chose to include Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
All of the artists included spent a considerable amount of time in New York City and played a major part in the worldwide art scene. You can see some of the unique signatures of the depicted artists like Keith Haring’s figurines and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Pez Dispenser (the dinosaur with the crown).
This modern take on Mt. Rushmore is refreshing and lighthearted. Since it’s near some of the other murals on this list you can make a day of it and explore Chelsea.
Address: 210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
#5. Comandante Biggie
Few characters loom as large in Hip Hop’s pantheon as Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G. It’s only fitting that NYC’s most notable hip hop artist would also have one of the most epic murals in New York City.
As a true New York City icon, Wallace’s legacy resonates throughout the Big Apple. The city recently paid him tribute on what would’ve been his 50th birthday by lighting the Empire State Building red and white.
One of the best New York City murals pays homage to the Bed-Stuy born rapper in his home borough of Brooklyn. Stylized as the South American Revolutionary Che Guevara, Biggie looms over S. Portland St. The other side of the building has some of his most famous lyrics sprawled across it’s facade, “spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way”.
Address: 690 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
#4. The temporary art at the High Line
The elevated tracks this NYC park was built on were originally used by freight trains delivering cargo to the city. A practice that became moot with the rise in trucking.
For ages, the railroad track was abandoned and neglected, a blight on the neighborhood. That is until Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan to transform the derelict train tracks into a park for the people.
The repurposed park also serves as canvas for one of the best murals in New York City. The High Line commissions some of the best artists in the world to create unique pieces of art that are displayed for the public’s enjoyment. They rotate every few years so it’s worth the stop.
One of my favorites currently on display at the High Line adjacent to 22nd St is Baayfalls by Jordan Casteel. It illustrates two friends of Casteel. They are siblings, the brother on the right had recently moved to New York from Senegal.
Address: Entrances on Gansevoort Street, 23rd Street, and 30th Street
#3. Bowery Graffiti Wall
The Bowery Graffiti Wall is a sought after canvas for street artists from all over the world. The wall was destined for greatness after Keith Haring first painted one of the best murals in New York City on it in 1982.
The Bowery Wall was largely forgotten for a a few decades but in 2008 Goldman Properties began allowing commissions for murals. Since then it has brought some of the best murals in NYC, with a new piece going up every year or so.
Featuring powerful and moving works, the Bowery Wall has served as host to some of the most famous street artists. In fact, the likes of Shephard Fairey, Ron English and Banksy have all had their art displayed.
Address: 76 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012
Okay last Kobra mural on this list, I promise. I saved my personal favorite for last. Close to the High Line you will find “Tolerance,” a riveting depiction of two of history’s symbols of peace and love.
Kobra’s portrayal of Gandhi and Mother Teresa, to me, represent New York beautifully. In this city people of different ethnicity, colors, and religions come together and begin to show that we’re really not that different from one another. For this reason I’ve chosen to include Kobra’s art as some of the best murals in New York City.
Address: 516-500 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011
#1. Hammer Boy by Banksy
Banksy is a famous (and anonymous) street artist known the world over for his thought-provoking street art. Many of his pieces have sold at auction for more than $1 million. In fact, Banksy’s Hammer Boy was the impetus for this post about the best murals in New York City.
Seeing an original Banksy piece almost feels like a privilege, as strange as that sounds. Swinging by 79th and Broadway to see Hammer Boy is one of the top attractions to the Upper West Side.
The piece was created during Banksy’s 2013 visit to NYC and is protected by plexiglass to prevent vandalism. Whether you appreciate street art or feel spray paint should be illegal, Bansky is a household name and seeing one of his pieces is quite the unique experience.
Address: 233 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024
Bonus Reading: 20+ EPIC Things to Do in the Upper West Side (Local’s Guide)
Best NYC Murals (Summary)
In sum, these are the best murals in New York City:
- Hammer Boy by Banksy
- Tolerance by Eduardo Kobra
- Bowery Graffiti Wall
- The High Line
- Comandante Biggie
- Mt. Rushmore of Art by Eduardo Kobra
- Crack is Wack by Keith Haring
- Black and White by Eduardo Kobra
- We Love NY2 by Eduardo Kobra
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Elle
- The Braves of 9/11 by Eduardo Kobra
- Rice Terraces by Dasic Fernández
- 2 World Trade Center
- I Love NY by Nick Walker
- Audrey Hepburn by Tristan Eaton
Map of the best Murals in New York City
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the 15 best murals in New York City! I hope you enjoyed the post!
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.