New York City Graffiti Murals: Signs of Hope, Marks of Distinction

Patrick Verel, Fordham University


Legal graffiti murals, far from being the nuisance that is often associated with traditional graffiti, are beneficial to the neighborhoods they inhabit. When authorities in cities such as New York overly concern themselves with the elimination of graffiti in all its forms, their zero-tolerance policies run the risk of squelching a vibrant art scene that has evolved beyond old stereotypes. In fact, when artists collaborate with building owners, graffiti murals can be just as effective at deterring vandalism as the city's current buffing efforts. In this paper, I will present evidence that graffiti murals that have been done by artists with a connection to the neighborhood are a cost effective way to keep surfaces free from vandalism, and also create visual cues to residents that the place they call home is desirable. This is in direct contrast with blank walls, which may be seen as a sign of order within a chaotic urban environment, but offer no respite from the drab surroundings that surround many of them.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Area Planning and Development|Art Criticism|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Verel, Patrick, "New York City Graffiti Murals: Signs of Hope, Marks of Distinction" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI1586887.