Murals – Crack Is Wack

Murals of East Harlem

East Harlem/El Barrio is home to a great number of murals that build on a long tradition in Latin American art, wherein residents may express themselves and tell their stories. Protecting these significant cultural symbols has become a great challenge, but an important endeavor, in a rapidly changing neighborhood.

East 128th Street and Harlem River Drive Handball Court
Keith Haring

Famed graffiti artist Keith Haring (1958-90) painted two colorful murals on both sides of a concrete handball court in 1986. The design is composed of Haring’s signature kinetic figures and abstract forms in bold outlines, cautioning youth against crack, an addictive and dangerous form of cocaine whose use had reached epidemic proportions. The Crack is Wack mural is a lasting reminder of Keith Haring’s talent and legacy.  A foundation in his memory was established, which continues to support the preservation of the mural.

Photo courtesy Marina Ortiz, East Harlem Preservation, Inc.