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One of New York City’s most unique identifiers is no longer. The graffiti from a very popular tunnel in Washington Heights has been repainted to the ire of some residents.

As spotted on Gothamist the Department of Transportation gave the 191st Street 1 train tunnel in Upper Manhattan a noticeable makeover. On Friday, January 20 a crew of employees repainted the underground passageway in an effort to remove all the graffiti that had been there for decades.

The project was not announced prior to it starting and even local were taken aback by the surprise remodeling. “The continual lack of transparency has long damaged our community’s trust; we are angered and disappointed by the lack of notification and care employed by the Department of Transportation in panting the tunnel without community engagement or planning” a joint statement from Council Member Carmen De La Rosa & Nira E. Leyva-Gutiérrez, Executive Director at NoMAA read.

When news of the project spread it quickly drew backlash from locals. “What happened here is just a slap in the face to the community,” said Luiggy Gomez, Washington Heights resident. “They erased history.” Naturally the controversy prompted the DOT to respond. Vincent Barone, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, did not explain why the repainting occurred but shared that the tunnel will receive new artwork in the near future. “We look forward to working closely with the community and local elected officials on a project that celebrates the culture and diversity that makes New York so special,” he said.

At this time the Department of Transportation has not shared details about the forthcoming art project for the tunnel.


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