"There is something about a mural, painted on-site, that shows commitment," says Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams, a design firm responsible for a variety of murals in locations around Manhattan—from the lobby of the Viceroy hotel to the guest rooms at the Ace. "It stays with the space," he adds. "You can't take this thing out."
In a city where tastes, whims, styles and neighborhoods change constantly, the relative permanence may be one reason why the large-scale artworks are an attractive choice. They add gravitas, put down roots. They also help build institutions, communicating the identity or story of a place to its customers and community -- whether it's the bohemian history of the West Village's Waverly Inn or the dreamy musical heaven depicted at Café Carlyle. From uptown to downtown, we explore 11 of New York's most interesting murals, found within some of its top restaurants and bars. —Sasha Levine