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Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Crack Is Wack Playground

E. 127 St., 2 Ave., and Harlem River Drive

Manhattan

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This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Crack is Wack Playground earned its distinctive name after artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) painted the now-famous Crack Is Wack mural in 1986 on the handball court walls.  The mural, done in Haring's signature style of thick black outlines, bright colors and intermingling, cartoon-like bodies, was painted to send a serious anti-drug message to the community.

Keith Haring was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on May 4, 1958.  His father, an amateur cartoonist, sparked his son's early interest in art.  After high school, Haring enrolled in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, but soon grew dissatisfied with the commercialism of his illustration and graphic design coursework. He withdrew from school and hitchhiked across the United States. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1976 where he became involved with the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center and hosted his first art show at age 19.

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ParkCrack Is Wack Playground

Keith Haring's Crack is Wack mural will not be available for viewing during reconstruction of the Harlem River Drive, expected to be completed by the end of 2019. It is currently enclosed by a protective shelter.
Anticipated Completion: Winter 2020

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