In 1986, Keith Haring got a $25 ticket for painting graffiti on a handball court in East Harlem. Perhaps sensing the crack epidemic of the 1980s reaching a fever pitch, the Parks Department contacted him months later with a request to finish the mural. The two murals on either side of the wall not only still stand, the Parks Department has officially named the park the “Crack is Wack Playground,” acknowledging it among the most salient dedications of public art in the city.
Haring, one of the quintessential New York City artists, died in 1990 of AIDS related complications, and in a poignant way, signaled the passing of a cultural moment.
Official New York City Parks Department signage