New York City’s Infamous “Tourist Lane” Graffiti: The Culprit, Unveiled


Remember the infamous “Tourist Lane” sidewalk graffiti on the corner of 22nd and 5th that – despite Mayor Bloomberg not being fond of it — many people like us absolutely loved? Well, the culprit behind one of the wittier pieces of conceptual street art in recent history has been unveiled. Drum roll, please?

Credit and/or blame can be assigned to New York City’s notorious pranksters-as-performance-artists Improv Everywhere, of course.

For our latest mission, we created separate walking lanes for tourists and New Yorkers on a Fifth Avenue sidewalk. Department of Transportation “employees” were on hand to enforce the new rules and ask pedestrians for their feedback on the initiative…Agent Greenspan came up with the idea for this project earlier this year and did some experimenting with different types of chalk and line drawing machines. When he told me about the project, I immediately fell in love with it and asked him if he would like to collaborate and turn it into an Improv Everywhere mission. To my delight, he was down.

Hysterically, there’s even video:

And plenty of priceless photos, like this one:

As they then go on to note the press coverage the lane got, and how people interpreted their intentions:

It was fun to watch people speculate as to who was responsible and what his motives were. In the end, The Tourist Lane is not a pro-tourist or anti-tourist project. It just is.

Surely, there’s some kind of law against this, but these are the same guys who ended up chasing ghosts around Bryant Park after they were commissioned by the New York Public Library to perform for their cause. And Bloomberg didn’t totally hate it — he noted that he “thought it was very cute” and also that it was a “nice thing to do” — he just hated the people who’d take it as we did, which was with a slight hint of contempt for tourists who don’t know how to walk and thus, mess up our commute first thing in the morning. Either way, Improv Everywhere wins again, and prove themselves as one of the many reasons our city does, in fact, have so many goddamn tourists: world-class pranksters. Only in New York.