Murals- The Spirit of East Harlem

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.

southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 104th Street
Hank Prussing/Manny Vega

One of El Barrio's most famous murals, The Spirit of East Harlem was commissioned by Hope Community. The four-story painting, featuring characters from the neighborhood, has significant historical roots in El Barrio and serves as a local cultural attraction. Manny Vega, who had served as Prussing's apprentice, restored the badly weathered painting in the mid-1990s, making minor changes, including the "El Barrio Tours" advertisement and the inclusion of an indigenous Taíno figure on the bottom right. Hope Community works continuously to raise funds to repair damage from such issues as vandalism and brick repointing.