High Line vs. Graffiti

The New York Times’s City Room blog covers the controversy over graffiti removal along the High Line, New York’s new art world-inspired urban park:

Credit: Seth Carnes
Credit: Seth Carnes

The city identified about 20 buildings along the entire High Line as candidates for graffiti removal and reached out to their owners back in October 2008, according to Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. Under legislation passed in September intended to speed up cleanup, the city’s Graffiti Free NYC program, which identifies and removes graffiti, contacts people whose buildings have been defaced. If the owners do not object, the city will remove the paint free of charge, unless the building owners ask to do it themselves or tell the city they would like the scrawl to stay. When graffiti is on private property, as it is on the buildings abutting the High Line, the city cannot force a cleanup, Ms. Erskine says.

So far, 18 of the buildings have permitted the city to scrub them clean — nine of which have already had the work completed. The remaining buildings are mostly along the unfinished second half of the track, where park construction is still under way. The move has been lamented in the graffiti blogosphere and chronicled in places like iheart.org, the Web site of Seth Carnes, an artist whose 2008 white, red and black painting of the words “i heart” on a patch of brick wall above the line near 13th Street was covered over with what he writes is “a battleship gray layer of paint” this past spring.

Removal of Graffiti Along High Line Vexes Some (City Room/New York Times)