Since the 1990s, graffiti artists were given safe haven, and for decades they honed their craft in broad daylight. However, when the developer and building owner eyed the site for a massive residential development, the street art was put on the backburner.
In the case of 5 Pointz, the graffiti artists took their issue to court, but they lost their bid to have the work protected under a little-used copyright law.
Then they argued that the building should be turned into a landmark to document street art in New York City.
Regardless of how you feel about graffiti or the situation at 5 Pointz, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission should have a more defined system when it comes to dealing with potentially important works of art whose historical significance is perhaps still being defined.
Artists have historically pushed along the economic development of the city - Lower Manhattan in the 70s, Williamsburg in the 90s – and the city should take this as a lesson learned on how to protect those creative developments.
In many cases, the city would likely benefit from outsider art movements, which is why the Landmarks Preservation Committee should rethink the way they designate buildings and neighborhoods significant to an emerging art world, not just a historic one.
Critics of landmarking say that designating 5 Pointz would freeze the artwork in time and no longer allow graffiti artists to paint the walls, defeating the purpose. Proponents argue that there could have been a way to landmark 5 Pointz and allow it to continue to evolve as a canvass.
Regardless of your feelings on the controversy surrounding 5 Pointz, the city needs to reconsider how it can resolve a similar situation should it arise in the future.