Princeton University Library Catalog

“Hysterically Wack”: Amending New York City’s Graffiti Policy

Martin, Connor [Browse]
Senior thesis
Fernández- Kelly, Patricia [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year:
98 pages
Summary note:
In the last twenty years, street art has burst into the public space of cities around the world. Some consider it a form of graffiti; others view it as this generation’s defining art movement. What is for sure is the practice’s authority in various aspects of modern urban culture. The high-end art market has adopted it, and its style has become influential in advertising, fashion, design, and art education. Tourism has increased with individuals traveling from far and wide to be a part of its contemporary culture. Investigating the two hubs of global street art, New York City and London, and their respective policies regarding the movement, this paper will recommend amendments to New York’s policy. The authorities of each have approached street art in two very distinct ways. London has accepted street art and seen benefits in the form of tourism and gentrification. New York City, on the other hand, has not recognized street art, remaining dedicated to a zero-tolerance policy since the 1970s. Despite this, street art has become a fixture among New York’s cityscape through privately organized initiatives. Neighborhoods have begun to gentrify, property values have increased, and the already popular tourism industry has expanded due to street art. If New York officials accept street art as separate from graffiti, it can be used as a tool in the continued fight against graffiti and the city can benefit from the economic and cultural benefits that London has already seen. It is recommended that New York City create a program to oversee street art’s legal implementation. The program will increase urban aesthetics through sponsored walls while continuing the anti-graffiti mission through education and prevention.