Jim Power and the Mosaic Trail

Jim Power, also known as the “Mosaic Man”, has been creating his Mosaic Trail in New York City’s East Village for over 30 years to beautify and document the neighborhood’s history. The trail runs primarily along 8 th Street and St. Marks Place from Broadway to Tompkins Square Park, but Power’s work can be found all over the East Village, not only on street light poles, but on building walls and inside local establishments. Now world-famous and listed in several NYC guidebooks, the Mosaic Trail commemorates important people and happenings in the Village and in New York City. Jim Power created the Mosaic Trail initially because he was moved by the idea of the old Native American trail that ran through the neighborhood and wanted to create a pathway to reflect the East Village in the 1980s. The poles pay tribute to the history of the neighborhood, as well as the fire, police and sanitation departments, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mayors, Presidents, and more recently the 9/11 tragedy.

Public interest in saving Jim Power's mosaic light poles along Astor Place and 8th Street came to light through outreach efforts lead by the Village Alliance Business Improvement District in 2013 to discuss future programming of the new plazas. The community felt that with so much change in the neighborhood, both physically and socially, the poles were a unique reflection of East Village history and should be preserved.

Today, it is estimated that about 25-30% of the original poles still remain, but the trail is still clearly visible at Astor Place. There are seven light poles within the Astor Place redevelopment project area that would be reintroduced in the proposed design solution, which aims to reintroduce the poles near their original locations to reinforce the Mosaic Trail. This direction is supported by Community Boards 2/3 and by Jim Power. 

The poles were removed safely from the site in October and are in a lighting storage facility in Long Island City. The mosaic portions will be saved and the remaining portion of the pole will be cut and removed. The design includes a new steel cap and the base and is intended to be as minimal as possible so as to not detract from the artwork. While some of the poles have suffered a loss of mosaics over time, the artist has committed to rehabilitate the poles with volunteer assistance. Future maintenance of the poles will be undertaken by the Alliance.