Thankfully, graffiti is hard to find here
06/20/2012 8:27 PM
During one of our Chicago apartment-hunting trips in early 2011, we looked at a promising Bucktown flat on Milwaukee Ave., directly above the Bongo Room. The unit was spacious, and I had visions of walking downstairs for waffles or a puffy omelet.
Then I saw something vaguely alarming. Above the entryway on the transom was the signature of a graffiti artist.
Actually, many buildings along that stretch of Milwaukee are tagged. As it turns out, graffiti has gotten out of hand in many Chicago neighborhoods. Gangs and random graffiti artists are tagging buildings and fences with reckless abandon. The Sun-Times reports the cityís graffiti removal unit canít keep up with the demand for its services. It doesnít help that the unitís operating budget was cut.
In the West Loop, youíd be hard pressed to find any graffiti. I asked the guard in our building if heíd ever seen evidence of graffiti here. He said it was rare; sometimes, the maintenance staff finds a tag on the outside wall in the back alley, but they clean it off immediately. He joked that they assume itís the work of UIC art students.
I talked to a West Loop police lieutenant to see if he had any theories about why weíd been spared. He said itís because we donít have any high school students in or around the neighborhood. Thatís the age group most likely to tag. Thereís Whitney Young, but itís a magnet school and therefore a magnet for study jocks. The teenagers at Merit School of Music are more likely to wield an oboe than a paint can.
You may recall about a year ago Details Magazine named the West Loop one of the six hippest neighborhoods in the world. Generally, one associates graffiti with gritty hipness. If we lose our hip grade because thereís no tagging here, I wonít be disappointed.