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Beloved Graffiti-Covered Washington Heights Art Tunnel Unexpectedly Painted – NBC New York (47)

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  • An iconic graffiti-filled pedestrian tunnel that has been a part of Washington Heights is at the center of controversy as a surprise paint job stripped it of the art it once held.
  • The tunnel of nearly 1,000 has become a tourist spot, but now, after being painted white by the city’s Department of Transportation, many claim that by painting the community’s artistic soul has been erased.
  • The tunnel has received attention not only for its painted walls, but also concerns about the safety and cleanliness of community members. Supposedly, the city has painted the tunnel, as part of a plan to address security in it.

NEW YORK — An iconic graffiti-filled pedestrian tunnel that has long been a part of Washington Heights is at the center of controversy as a surprise paint job stripped it of the art it once held.

The tunnel of nearly 1,000 has become a tourist spot, but now, after being painted white by the city’s Department of Transportation, many claim that by painting the community’s artistic soul has been erased.

The tunnel connects St. Nicholas Avenue with Broadway for access to the No. 1 train. It has received attention not only for its painted walls, but also for safety and cleanliness concerns from community members.

Supposedly, the city has painted the tunnel, as part of a plan to address security in it.

However, in a joint statement, Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa and the executive director of the arts organization Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (or NoMAA) Nira Leyva-Gutiérrez say that while they agree with the idea of ​​ensuring a safe and clean, they do not agree that the tunnel was completely painted.

“We have never advocated removing the soul of the tunnel, erasing the local art that was emblematic of the tunnel,” the councilwoman and CEO’s statement read in part, adding that they are disappointed with the lack of transparency on the part of the Department. of Transportation “by painting the tunnel without community notification or planning.”

“The 191st Tunnel Art was a labor of love coordinated by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) to uplift local artists while capturing the essence of our community,” the statement continued.

De La Rosa and Leyva-Gutierrez say they will continue to hold city agencies accountable for tunnel maintenance and cleanup, as well as support services for “the homeless who often congregate in the tunnel,” but are demanding a Coordinated communication between City agencies and community voices on the tunnel plan.

“We jointly call on the Department of Transportation to immediately engage our community, local elected leaders, Community Board 12 and NoMAA in reinstating the tunnel public art initiative,” said De La Rosa and Leyva- Gutierrez,

The Transportation Department did not immediately comment on the decision.

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