New York is a city of artists — although the days a starving artist could afford a Manhattan apartment are long gone — so it’s no surprise that’ll you’ll find some artsy and quirky building facades throughout the city. Some of the more artistic buildings in New York have given way to glassier, newer residential buildings (the infamous 5Pointz warehouse is Queens will soon be demolished and replaced with a condo skyscraper) but here are five unique facades to check out while they’re still around.
Wyckoff Street Mosaic
In Boerum Hill, one townhouse stands out among a typical block of Brooklyn brownstones. The house at 108 Wyckoff St. features an elaborate mosaic that incorporates everything from shells to buttons, jewelry, tiles, old CDs and broken glass. The owner, Susan Gardener, started randomly gluing things to the front of her house back in 2001. Now the mosaic is a colorful and swirling design that reaches up to the second floor. Gardener even started decorating the iron fence that fronts her home. susangardner.com
Greenwich Locksmiths is probably the coolest, and definitely the most artistic key shop in all of New York. The entire facade is covered in a swirling and spiraling design comprised of thousands of keys. The owner started attaching keys to the front facade a few years ago then decided to take on the whole building, buying keys by the pound at local scrapyards. The result after two years of hard work: a Starry Night-inspired art piece made of all metal. atlasobscura.com
The New Museum
The New Museum, located on the Bowery, famously incorporated a piece of artwork onto its facade. The Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone designed the “Hell Yes!” insignia as a permanent installation to be displayed prominently on the front of the building. The neon sign is lit in rainbow colors — it symbolizes, according to the New Museum, the “openness, fearlessness, and optimism” that the museum embodies. newmuseum.org
This is Brooklyn‘s most famous artsy facade and it’s not long for this world. Back in the 80s, couple Arthur and Cynthia Wood started building on top of their Bed-Stuy home, a large brick townhouse at the end of a cul-de-sac. They used bottles and glass to create stained-glass windows and built a towering addition on the roof. The city evacuated the Woods in 2006 after a building fire, and soon after Cynthia passed away. But Arthur has fought for the building ever since, despite facing foreclosure. Just last week a developer announced that the company purchased Broken Angel for $4 million with plans to redevelop the site.
324 E. 4th St.
This East Village townhouse, between Avenues C and D, is vacant and was initially slated for demolition — but right now it boasts a beautiful and unique facade. After tenants were booted due to structural issues with the home, the former tenants decided to transform the entire space into a gallery. The front facade received a full-on artistic paint job, the interior features artwork as well. The artists held a party in the townhouse this December, but the parties may not last long — plans were recently filed to gut renovate the home and add two stories.