By Gus Saltonstall
Hundreds of pieces of graffiti were recently identified on the Upper West Side in what one local elected official is calling a “growing problem” in the district.
New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer conducted a survey this summer that found 370 different pieces of graffiti from West 54th to 109th Streets, between Riverside Drive and Central Park West.
Following the count, Brewer penned a letter to multiple city departments on Wednesday, shared exclusively with West Side Rag, requesting that the agencies review the Upper West Side data and arrange for a removal process.
“I echo the concern of my constituents over the growing problem in my district and throughout the city, and request that these areas be cleaned up as soon as possible,” Brewer wrote in the letter sent to the New York City Department of Sanitation, the Department of Transportation, the FDNY, the New York City Housing Authority, New York City Transit, and the Manhattan postmaster.
The count was completed through the use of the NYC 311 complaint system, an on-foot survey by Brewer’s staff and interns, and Upper West Siders flagging sites with corresponding photos.
Highlights of the findings
- 17.8 percent of the UWS graffiti was found on residential and commercial buildings.
- 9.5 percent of UWS graffiti was found on mailboxes.
- On the southwest corner of Amsterdam and West 88th Street there is a cluster of five shuttered and boarded-up buildings covered in graffiti.
- Multiple instances of graffiti were reported on nearly every block, with the largest clumps along Broadway.
- Graffiti removal is not the responsibility of one city agency, but instead is determined by where it is found, according to Brewer.
While multiple city agencies and organizations play different roles in graffiti removal, the Department of Sanitation took on the task of overseeing graffiti cleanup across the five boroughs from New York City’s Economic Development Corporation in April of 2023.
“Since taking over the program in April, we have closed more than 5,000 graffiti service requests, an 85 percent increase from the same period last year,” the Department of Sanitation told the West Side Rag when asked about Brewer’s letter. “We appreciate the Councilmember’s advocacy for clean streetscapes and look forward to continuing this work on the Upper West Side and across the five boroughs.”
Brewer added in the letter that the graffiti could affect property values.
“Graffiti makes the neighborhoods appear unsafe and neglected, can affect property values, and can deter customers from shopping at businesses that have been serving our community for years,” Brewer wrote.
Outside of buildings and mailboxes, graffiti in the neighborhood was also reported on streets, parking signs and meters, sidewalk sheds, garbage bins, dumpsters, street lights, bus stops, newspaper boxes, and fire hydrants.
Here’s an interactive map created by Brewer’s office of all the Upper West Side graffiti findings and the corresponding addresses.
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