LONG ISLAND CITY — Artists and fans gathered at 5Pointz Tuesday night to mourn the loss of the graffiti art that was whitewashed the night before.
The crowd lit candles and stood in the cold, while artists spray-painted canvases that were then taped to a wall of the painted-over building. Fans also wrote messages of tribute and support and taped them to the wall.
"I feel like a huge piece of history is just gone now," said Stephanie Rogers, a Flushing resident who said she looked at the colorful walls of the complex every time she took the 7 train into Manhattan.
"I can't imagine not seeing it anymore. It just hurts."
Artists and neighbors awoke Tuesday morning to find much of the tag-covered Long Island City buildings covered in white paint.
Owner Jerry Wolkoff, whose company G&M Realty is planning to demolish the site to build a pair of high-rise luxury apartment towers, said he decided the paint job was easier than having the works of art dismantled one at a time once the wrecking ball arrived.
"Not getting tortured over and over every day, watching a piece come down every day," he told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday. "This is the decision I made for the both of us — I thought it out for them and for me."
But many artists and fans were shocked and angered by the move. 5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen, known by his tag name Meres One, called it "the greatest art murder in history."
At Tuesday's vigil, Long Island City resident Stefanie Nava, 30, said she had frequently visited the site to see the art and look at the new works that had gone up since the last time she was there.
"It's a really amazing place," she said. "It's just a sad day."