Todd James (aka REAS), a graffiti artist who cut his teeth smashing subway trains with spray paint in the 1980s, was commissioned to create public art — legally — for Washington Market Park. Today, the park’s Court Mural program was unveiled. The 90-foot-wall of the Chambers Street basketball court will feature a rotating roster of artists. REAS’ mural, populated by his signature characters, will stay up until the fall.
The green space was built in the early 1980s, after residents protested a plan to turn the dump site into a municipal parking garage. Before the neighborhood was called Tribeca, it was known as Washington Market for the massive wholesale-produce operation that occupied Manhattan’s west side from about 1880 to 1910, according to the New York Times. The city eventually razed the Greek Revival warehouses in the area, leaving what Forgotten New York aptly described as “a deserted no-man’s land that existed north of Vesey Street and west of Greenwich Street that persisted until the 1980s.”
(Photo: Friends of Washington Market Park)