The word PRAY appeared etched onto walls, benches, and phone booths throughout New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. Sometimes it accompanied other directives written in the same hand: JESUS SAVES, WORSHIP GOD, GO TO CHURCH, and so on. The writer behind them is one of early New York City graffiti’s mysteries. Some graffiti writers say they caught a glimpse of PRAY in action, describing her as a vagrant elderly white woman, but her identity has never been confirmed. PRAY may have been one lone religious zealot or PRAY might have been a movement. The marks were scratched into painted metal, as replicated on this salvaged phone booth, enduring for nearly as long as the urban legend of their creator.
BEYOND THE STREETS New York, 2019. Photo by Dan Bradica.