The city is looking for artists to redecorate an underground pedestrian tunnel in upper Manhattan that it can’t keep free of graffiti.
He The Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it is seeking artists to paint murals on the walls of a 900-foot-long pedestrian tunnel that runs from the platform of the No. 1 train to Broadway at the W. 191st St. station in Washington Heights.
“The 191st Street Tunnel is a milestone for the community, providing a critical connection between Broadway and the 1 train for tens of thousands of New Yorkers,” Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement. Rodríguez used to represent the area in the Municipal Council.
The tunnel is an intermittent canvas for New York City graffiti artists, who take on painters paid by the city for control of the space.
For years, graffiti littered the walls of the tunnel, which, unlike the state subway system, is owned by the city’s Department of Transportation.
Around 2015, the city painted over the labels with murals by artists it hired. But over time, those paintings became covered over with graffiti again, locals told the Daily News.
After the Daily News reported on the ongoing plague in January, the city struck back in January by putting white paint over the problem.
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“They had done a piece of art here and then they started graffitiing it and then one day it all went blank,” said Lauren Rodriguez, a 23-year-old teaching assistant who lives in the neighborhood.
But on Thursday the freshly painted walls were already covered in graffiti scribbles. “I’ve never seen graffiti on anyone here, but it always ends up here,” Rodríguez said.
The 191st Street passage is also a popular drug spot in the neighborhood, locals said.
On a recent day, Rodríguez said, he saw “needles everywhere on the floor. I saw a lot of them.”
“Here they throw fentanyl,” said a man who gave his name as Carlos. They always do it.
“There is nothing wrong with the tunnel. There are no robberies, there is no crime, it is just people shooting each other,” she said. “They are homeless people. They have nowhere else to do it.”
“It’s sad. It’s been like this forever.”