For the past four years, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have walked by or on top of the orange lines have unwittingly passed what is the biggest graffiti tag in the world. The tag, which is so vast that all parts of it cannot be viewed at the same time, was created by an artist known as Momo in 2006 and consists of a single paint line that runs about eight miles long and spells out his name.
It runs from the East River to the Hudson River and extends north to 14th Street and south to Grand Street. The line runs over curbstones and subway grates and zigzags around lampposts and manhole covers. Its route begins at the edge of a West Side pier and ends after crossing a footbridge over the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. “I wanted to make a trail that people could follow,” Momo said. “And I realized that I could write something if I planned it out with the street grid.”
The project was inspired by a series of purple footprints that were painted on Manhattan sidewalks in 1986, which stretched all the way from the Upper East Side down to Foley Square. Those mysterious markings led to a spot on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side, where the city had bulldozed an elaborate community garden called the Garden of Eden, which had been created by a squatter named Adam Purple. Momo said he glimpsed the footprints as a child and was captivated.
“It was a really ephemeral, strange sight,” he said. “And it felt like those footprints created a path that was all mine.” Years later he experimented for months with a way to make his own paint trail and eventually lashed a homemade funnel-shaped bucket to the back of a bicycle. He fitted the bucket with a hose that was controlled by a ball valve of the kind used in swimming pool plumbing systems. The line was created with 15 gallons of paint dispensed over the course of two covert missions carried out between 3 and 6 in the morning. “Everyone was oblivious except for one guy who chased me,” he said. “But I think he was trying to be helpful, believing I was heading to a job site and had a legitimate leak.”
You can read more about MoMo’s Manhattan tag in The New York Times here.(by Patrick Zimmerman )