Subway graffiti. It’s probably something that everyone living in NYC has noticed from one time or another. Whether on the morning commute or traveling to see friends on the weekend. Seen as a blur while the train is in motion, or studied in detail while the train is ‘delayed by train traffic ahead’. It covers nearly every wall inside the New York City subway system.

Most of it is plain white and seems hastily thrown up by immature vandals – however some graffiti is more complex and can even be considered works of art. Every time I see these marks I think the same thing: When was this done?

It seems fairly obvious that in modern day New York that neither the hipsters in Williamsburg nor the millionaires in Brooklyn Heights are sneaking down into the subway tunnels at night and dodging trains to vandalize the walls. So if they’re not doing it, then who? Some cursory research has led me to discover that most of the subway graffiti was done in the 1970’s and 80’s when New York City was a very different place (

I’m happy that the subway cars and subway stations are no longer skinned with spray paint (I think that would be rather unpleasant) – but I actually find it quite interesting that the inside of the subway walls still feature gang tags from the New York of yesteryear. I suppose it’s a sort of homage that this city pays to its rougher and less glamorous roots.

Graffiti on the Subway Walls
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