Sandwiched between Houston and Canal streets, this 73-acre area was one of my original New York City stomping grounds (and is the place I now call home). In my relatively short lifetime, I have seen the neighborhood known as Soho change, from quiet streets to a bustling matrix of commerce. My stepfather bought his first loft here, a converted spice factory on Wooster Street, in the 1970s. At the time, he would tell me, cab drivers refused to take him to his apartment because the area was riddled with abandoned buildings. (Though perhaps he embellished these facts to make for a better story.) Now, residential units are in demand and storefronts are leased by well-known designers.
What has been retained, however, is the visibility and popularity of street art on the thoroughfares of the neighborhood. From a spray-painted mural to a paper concoction plastered on the side of a building to a sticker slapped on a slab of sidewalk, art is everywhere in Soho and part of every view. One place holds special significance to me: the edifice of a dark, vacant brick building on Wooster Street between Grand and Canal streets, right outside of my apartment. Each day I am greeted by this ever-evolving canvas—even a few famous artists, like Shepard Fairey, have been known to illicitly decorate it. I have heard this immovable tapestry referred to as “The Wall.” Where others might see vandalism, I see a wonderful and continuous community art project.
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