"Domed" and Whited Out: Arts Gentrification and the Negotiation of Public Space in Long Island City, NY

Michelle Rufrano, Fordham University


Queens, New York continues to be celebrated as one of the most ethnically diverse places in the nation. Historically, Long Island City (LIC), Queens was an industrial neighborhood and LIC's image as an industrial wasteland has deterred developers from targeting LIC in the past. However, in the 1980's, the city sought to revitalize LIC through the arts--a global strategy for urban renewal. The Long Island City Cultural Alliance (LICCA) is a key actor in LIC's development and claims to stray from the art-to-gentrification model of urban growth. However, as new residents are lured to LIC by a variety of arts attractions, long-time residents of the neighborhood have been displaced. One of the spaces supported by LICCA is Socrates Sculpture Park--formerly a landfill that has since been transformed into a thriving, globally acknowledged sculpture park. In contrast, "graffiti mecca" 5POINTZ (unaffiliated with LICCA) has recently been sold to develop luxury housing. Socrates Sculpture Park and 5POINTZ, as public art spaces, influence how a neighborhood thinks of itself--its identity, and as shared landmarks, public art also helps to build a sense of community among residents. As such, it is my purpose to analyze the physical, cultural, and social landscape of LIC in order to showcase forms of inclusion and exclusion in LIC's public arts spaces. I employ a historical analysis of LIC's infrastructure as well as ethnographic research of both Socrates Sculpture Park and 5POINTZ.

Subject Area

Sociology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Rufrano, Michelle, ""Domed" and Whited Out: Arts Gentrification and the Negotiation of Public Space in Long Island City, NY" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI1561146.