The Impact of Graffiti on Urban Areas

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • New York, US
  • London, UK
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Recommendation


In 1976, the earliest sign of modern graffiti was found. A highschool student began drawing graffiti on building walls to get a girl’s attention. Eventually graffiti was becoming more widespread from the young couple’s romance coming to light. Graffiti art began to catch people’s eye, and it became apart of pop culture and it was “cool”. In the 1980’s graffiti was put into museums as an art and was admired but all types of artists. Since graffiti is well known today, more graffiti artists are uprising and using this art form in many different ways to express themselves. Some examples of graffiti can include murals or pieces dedicated to the dead and people also can draw politicians and give their opinion on it. Although graffiti is an art form and adored, disputes can occur because of it.

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Graffiti has a unique style but ways to create it can be considered as vandalism and destruction of property. Also, it is common in big cities and can cause a negative appearance to the city and stereotypes to arise about certain parts of the city. Therefore, from a governmental standpoint, graffiti is a crime that should be controlled to better urban areas.

New York, US

New York City has done many things to contain graffiti and stop it, such as fines and laws. The city even has a “graffiti removal program”. A group over this program is Graffiti-Free NYC and anyone can report graffiti. Although this can be an effective program, it can take up to months for them to clean the graffiti because winter months interfere. Their laws take into account how long they have been creating graffiti illegally and the many offenses you can get in the process of tagging graffiti, including “property damage”. Although graffiti itself isn’t much of a crime, what is done to create it can be. In New York, graffiti is often seen frequently and this makes it look like a bad area. According to CBS New York, “Graffiti is seen everywhere from Chambers and Church streets to the Long Island Rail Road train station in Forest Hills, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn”. Even though it’s often seen doesn’t mean New York takes it lightly because its “vandalism” and people can just walk by and think that “It looks like somebody just defamed somebody else’s property”. Creating graffiti can make this state look like there is high poverty levels. New York is nationwide known for their gangs and these gangs may create graffiti to continue the spread of violence to younger generations today. The government feels as if they must take action against these criminals and street art artists.

London, UK

Furthermore, London is very strict on vandalism and can have some shocking penalties compared to New York. A graffiti artist, “Skeam, ” was sentenced to jail for 30 months for his graffiti on walls and trains in London. He was 23 years old and found in his jail cell hung and dead. This young man was only in jail for drawing on walls and it resulted in suicide. London will go to extreme measures just to stop these artists from expressing themselves to the public. For adolescents, the highest consequence for them is 24 months in a juvenile detentions center. It can be very surprising that people who just paint on walls are spending time in prison where rapists and murderers are but this is all apart of London’s plan to reduce graffiti. According to The Mix, “laws on public property are very strict and anyone caught doing graffiti can be arrested and prosecuted under the Criminal Damage Act 1971”. London is concerned with nice communities for families. When most people think of london, they think of fancy buildings and professional people. London is strict on graffiti through their laws to keep their image and not let their city look any kind of way.

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, on the other hand, can be very lenient on graffiti. Graffiti is not used much in Hong Kong but there are still a few artist. Graffiti isn’t as common in this big city because people really don’t show a appeal towards it. Also, people don’t want to break the law. Honk Kong might have a little bit of graffiti here and there but there isn’t as much as the previous cities discussed. The citizens just aren’t attracted to graffiti and haven’t been interested to catch on to this pop culture trend.

For China overall, people found vandalizing the Great Wall of China with graffiti can see fines from $30 to $60 and the artists will be “publicly shamed”. These fines aren’t really or as big as the consequences in London or New York. China has had harsh laws like the one child law and the consequences were very brutal. Also, the article mentioned “the heavy hand of teachers” and this can be assumed that adolescents partaking in graffiti can be abused by teachers so they choose to abide by the law.


Although there is a huge problem with graffiti in urbanized cities, there are many ways to tackle this problem. These problems can include a negative look of the city that can prevent tourism and the spread of gang violence. According to the organization of Project for Public Spaces, we can change the design of buildings so that it can be harder to have a space for people to easily vandalized with graffiti. This can most likely take up to many years but there are also quick effective ideas. We can use graffiti to our advantage and get graffiti artist to paint murals for organizations or schools. Also we can save spaces specifically for graffiti artist so they don’t have to ruin buildings in these urban cities.

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