A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


City to paint over two neighborhood murals after constant graffiti

July 21st, 2012 · Comments

The community-created murals on the North 63rd Street underpass below Aurora Avenue and on North 57th Street near Woodland Park Zoo will soon be painted over by the city, after years of graffiti have taken their toll.

The city says both murals were created in the mid-1990s, and maintenance remains the responsibility of the organizations that created them. People have tried to clean them up at various times, but the graffiti keeps coming back.

Graffiti on the North 63rd Street underpass in 2009.

The city plans to paint over both murals the week of July 30.

Graffiti on the North 57th Street mural in 2009.

If anyone is interested in creating a new mural at either site, contact Rob Mattson, Neighborhood District Coordinator, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, at 206-684-4051 or rob.mattson@seattle.gov.

Tags: , Uncategorized


  1. Block Watcher says:

    Idiot kids raised on violent computer games only know how to destroy things.

  2. mrs murphey says:

    Yeah – they idiot.
    But also, they don’t have ownership. How to engender an understanding of the term “ownership society”?
    Idiot society doesn’t create opportunity for then is surprised by outcome

  3. liz says:

    The fault is ours also, for not maintaining our murals. No point in installing public art without a plan to maintain it. I wish we had done better.

  4. Steve says:

    How nice. The sweet little taggers will have a blank canvas upon which to work.

  5. Mike Perry says:

    This makes no sense. Slapping ugly grey paint over what remains of that mural won’t end the graffiti. These little twerps will just spray over that. Graffiti over a solid color will look even worse.

    And why shouldn’t these vandals think they own that wall? They’re not the only one taking ‘ownership’ of something that not theirs. Recall recent news stories.

    We’ve got a president who thinks that those in business who labored for years to establish a successful company shouldn’t take credit for their labors. Not giving business owners the respect they deserve is really no different from not respecting the property of others. They’re two sides of the same coin.

    We don’t have respect for people’s labors at the bottom of our society because at present we don’t have respect for it at the very top. It really is that simple.

    We need to change what’s wrong at the top, or be prepared for a lot worse ills at the bottom.

  6. Tiktok says:

    The amount of graffiti won’t decrease by removing the murals. The only graffiti-free mural I’ve ever seen is the graffiti-looking one where the old Green Bean was. Curiously, that one has remained untagged.

  7. Margaret says:

    What if it were a place where creative graffiti could be allowed? “Graffiti-Looking Mural”

  8. Aaaaarrrggh says:

    What about the murals on 85th next to taproot – have they been tagged? I can’t remember seeing anything on them…

  9. Block watcher says:

    Republicans screwed this country good.

  10. Block watcher says:

    Mike Perry, FOX News is a pile of crap.

  11. i really don't heart greenwood anymore says:

    Tiktok and Aaaaaaaarrggh, unfortunately, the mural where the old Green Bean was, that was created after the arsons three years ago, has been tagged with graffiti, too — I was saddened to notice it recently. It’s just not as bad as most. I still love the story of an area Dad who caught a kid spraying graffiti, grabbed her can and turned it on her, spraying her completely blue. Somebody has to hold these little thugs accountable.

  12. Greenewood Bob says:

    Actually, you can blame the Republicans, and their ownership society for the lack of respect our public property is shown. We used to take pride in our local government, and valued shared communal property. We celebrated the things our tax dollars created for us, and we had a consensus that recognized that the taxes we paid were the cost of a civilized society. After a couple of decades of hearing a constant stream of propaganda condemning government as the root of all problems, and that public goods are of less value than corporate goods, is it any wonder kids don’t respect government property? Add to that the nut-ball libertarians who claim that all government property is just stolen property, and I can see why kids would rather tag things.

  13. Greenwoodie says:

    Can we put cameras up,? Love
    that someone sprayed the tagger!

  14. Judith Wood says:

    I’d love to see the wall under Aurora Ave designated a free wall to give local street artists a legal canvas. I hate random tagging as much as anyone, but there’s more to it than that. Anyone passed by the old TUBS lately? It’s an ever-changing vision of color and form. I wouldn’t mind having one place where this was allowed in our ‘hood.

  15. Greenlake Bob says:

    No person or group stepped up to repair, redo, or paint a new mural. Therefore the city’s only option is to cover it. The city created the law that covers graffiti removal, which they have been in violation of for the last 3 years. To those that think it’s a blank canvas for graffiti, if you report the graffiti immediately after you see it the city will paint over it (with a matching color so it doesn’t look like crap) within 24 hrs. Or you can even sign up to receive the same paint and cover it yourself.

  16. LLPenington says:

    Just curious, and I bet I know the answer but, who pays for the paint and labor to paint and repaint the 99 overpasses between zoo and woodland park? Seems like the get tagged pretty often.
    How does painting over the murals change anything…it will just be painted a zillion times over which leads back to my initial question.
    Is this a good use of resources?

  17. kelstar says:

    Sad. I’ve lived in places like Houston, TX that celebrate blank concrete. Dreary. Perhaps Phinney Neighborhood Center could come to the rescue? Form a Graffiti Brigade — group of volunteers to repair murals? Would be great volunteer work for kids, too. Service hours. Cameras are a good idea. Also great idea to designate a free wall. If we want this, we could make it happen.

  18. 4 words: Fume activated water cannons.

  19. kelstar says:

    One more idea — an Adopt-a-Mural program. Perhaps 6 mos. rotating or 1 year commitment?

  20. Block Watcher says:

    There is a free wall at 50th and Roosevelt Way NE. The former Tubs building is an ever changing display of color and message.

  21. jim says:

    A free wall is a great idea. If “they” were encouraged to use it for graffiti, they’d probably leave it alone (but show up elsewhere…). I don’t see graffiti as a Republican or Democratic thing. I do recall seeing it during several previous administrations.

  22. Mr. Flippant says:

    I would love to see this space revitalized with a Henry mural:


  23. GD says:

    “I would love to see this space revitalized with a Henry mural”

    Not me. Henry sucks.

  24. Rob says:

    If the taggers of these murals and/or any taggers actually created ART and not just scribbled their stupid names, etc on the walls it wouldn’t be so bad. But here in greenwood the taggers seem to have claimed ,with their initials, ownership of multiple buildings, just about every street sign there is, and lot’s of folks fences. Sorry your stupid symbols and names aren’t art.

  25. Syd says:

    A few years ago, someone tried to coordinate a clean up of the mural by the zoo. She posted a note with her phone number and email address that, I think, asked the taggers for their input. I noticed that shortly after the note was posted, the tagging got worse and the note was removed.

    I recall a story on PhinneyWood sometime during the past two years in which somone planned to redo the mural by Aurora. Surprisingly, she received little support and flack from commenters on this blog.

    I’d certainly sign up for a turn on a Adopt-a-Mural scheme. I don’t have the time or energy to organize such a thing. I wish I did.

  26. robert o says:

    lacquer thinner and a pile of rags would probably get that stuff off and not get into the original paint. painting it gray is stupid and it will be graffitied again and be much more noticable.

  27. Esther says:

    I think more “free” space like what the old TUBS building has going is a great idea. I personally like the aesthetic of graffiti art, and I feel like if we had a designated spot for people to be express themselves, it would manifest in a more visually pleasing way, rather than just rushed tagging on private property.

  28. Harry Tracy says:

    The former Tubs building is an eyesore.

  29. Robin Randels says:

    I would be willing to help restore the mural under Phinney. A group of neighbors and an artist originally painted it. Can we put together another group to do some restoration and touch up?
    Painting it over seems like a step backward.

  30. Syd says:

    Here’s the link to the previous story on PhinneyWood where someone was going to coordinate restoring the murals: http://phinneywood.com/2011/09/19/help-plan-the-future-of-two-neighborhood-murals/#more-6730

    I wonder what happened to the effort? I’ve just send an email to Rep. Dickerson to find out!

  31. Fred says:

    @12 I hear there was no such thing as graffiti before Reagan came along. I remember riding the NYC subway and marveling at the beauty of good ol’ fashion liberalism.

  32. W.F. says:

    The mural next to Taproot has been hit a couple times but not too bad. Fortunately, the painters of the mural are quick to repair the damage.

  33. X says:

    We are blessed with more things to do than time to do them,
    such that the question becomes not
    “Do you have time?” but
    “Would you rather accomplish this than what you accomplished today?”

    57th & Phinney & 63rd & Aurora:

  34. Wendy says:

    Tubs is not a “free wall”. Conversely it is a private business that has given up the battle. He is now in a battle with the city who continues to fine him for not doing something about it.

  35. Block Watcher says:

    The vandals are destructive non-talents and stupid.

  36. Syd says:

    There is a possibility that new murals could be created after they are painted over *if* there is enough interest from community members.

    If you let Rob Mattson know you’re interested (206-684-4051 or rob.mattson@seattle.gov), he’ll forward your contact information to Irene Wall with the Phinney Ridge Community Council.

    If enough interest is generated, new murals might be in the works.

  37. Simon says:

    Block Watcher – graffiti goes back to pre-Roman era times. It has nothing to do with video games.

    Mike Perry – the President was misquoted out of context. Or do you believe that businesses built the roads and educated the people of this nation?

  38. Scre says:


  39. Ted says:

    ” you can blame the Republicans”

    Actually I imagine it’s good ol’ fashioned entitlement punks who like to deface our city. Something tells me they think someone owes them something for nothing.

  40. Block Watcher says:

    Did Roman gladiators burn down the artworks at Carkeek park last week? Violent computer games are part of the overall violent media culture, so they do contribute and encourage stupid behavior.

  41. Block Watcher says:

    No, Ted, the GOP tax evaders want to send jobs to Mexico and whine about getting America back to work. GOP=Whiners.

  42. Ted says:

    “the GOP tax evaders want to send jobs to Mexico and whine about getting America back to work. ”

    Are the Mexicans are happy to get jobs?

    At least it’s good to know they’re not the ones taking my fence then.

  43. phinneyfun says:

    I am constantly astounded by how quickly people start dragging Republican/Democrat stereotypes and arguments into the arena as soon as an issue comes up.

    And I can’t believe that there are STILL people who seem to think that all punks with spray cans who vandalize public property are really latent artists (forced to engage in just fly-by tagging…as if!). They are NOT. Most are just jackasses who do things like smash little kids’ Halloween pumpkins, break bus shelter windows, etch on stores’ windows, set fire to garbage cans…oh wait, they’re all artists in search of canvases, I forgot!

    The mural at 63rd went unscathed for years. Then a little tagging crept in and that became a flood. I don’t blame those who tried to maintain the art…I’d get discouraged, too; who has time to go out every day and fix a damaged wall?

    These pin-headed miscreants obviously never learned in preschool that you don’t destroy other artists’ artwork. If they were “artists,” as those in pie-eyed-optimism-land claim, they would have respected existing artwork.

    Not every piece of crap is a statement.

  44. Feat of Clay says:

    @phinneyfun – well said

  45. ksear says:

    If the city stays on top of the tagging the taggers will move on for a while.

    Creating new murals is a great idea and as long as there is a plan keep up the maintenance.
    Make something simple with 6 or less colors. Ask people to volunteer to take a month or weeks where they are in charge of covering the tagging if needed. Maybe the Phinney Neighborhood Center can help with coordination and storage of the supplies. People seem interested in having the murals, so hopefully we will have something besides a grey wall and tagging in the near future.

  46. Aaaaarrrggh says:

    ksear has a good point – one of the difficulties maintaining that mural was the shear complexity of it. Fewer colors and simpler design would make much easier to maintain

  47. C Shaller says:

    Thanks for posting!! I just e-mailed Rob. Let’s all chip in and make our communities greater!! I’d like to think that these angry little artists would someday benefit from our efforts.

    “In a gentle way, you can shake the world” ~ Gandhi

  48. Jr says:

    The Seattle police had a detective that patrolled the graffiti. He retired a few years ago and they did not replace him. He did a great job of keeping track of the graffiti and building cases. In the last year the city made the brilliant move to replace the position. (a little late) the original detective should have been asked to pass the torch. It’s been costing the city way more money to paint out the graffiti then building cases against theses artist. There is a graffiti hot line to report (206) 684-7587