Believe it or not, tattooing as we know it has only been legal in NYC for 21 years. Banned in 1961 after a hepatitis B outbreak (although more amusing theories are rumored), City Council finally voted to legalize and regulate the practice in 1997. “We were afraid,” a Canal Street shop owner said after the victory. “Now, a lot of people are listed in the yellow pages.”
Today, years removed from telephone book tyranny, there are about 300 licensed tattoo shops in New York City. You could try them all, but odds are you have a fam to -ily, and a j to -ob, and a society to assimilate to despite your base self-destructive desires. Plus, tattoos are expensive. Keep your skin in the game with this list of the nine best tattoo shops in New York City.