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Graffiti Colors and Covers the City with a Strong Resurgence

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[Photo of Delaware River near Cumberland Street by David Maialetti]

Graffiti is on the rise in Philly. The city's 311 service can attest to that. In 2010, about 1,000 requests were logged for graffiti removal. In 2013, nearly 7,500 calls and reports via the app came in, and the city's Streets Department, which washes the graffiti away, recorded more than 100,000 graffiti removals. 100,000?

In 1984, Mayor Wilson Goode started an anti-graffiti network that transitioned into the Mural Arts Program as the city's public art project.

Graffiti often share identity confusion with murals, as people try to define what is art versus what is vandalism to public property. Tom Conway, Deputy Managing Director, who works with the city scrubbers of the Streets Department, notes some interesting behaviors. First, graffiti correlates with 'short-dumping,' or leaving trash on the streets. Second, graffiti usually does not return to the same cleaned space only after being scrubbed three times. Philly employs 38 people and spends about $1.5 million per year specifically to tackle graffiti.

Of course, there are beautiful works of art as well. Shepard Fairey had installed 'Lotus Diamond' at Frankford Hall in August, a shot of which is captured below via an Instagram snapper.

It's a complicated issue that is as blurred as the shades of paint sprayed on the city's walls--but one to come to peace with, as people sit on different sides of the fence on this issue. As reports from infamous graffiti artist Cornbread, ""It's not sinful behavior. It's not going to go away - ever." encourages residents to capture their shots of graffiti and post it with the hashtag #graffitiphl. Here are a few collected thus far.

What the return of graffiti says about our times and ourselves []