Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became An Urban Crisis in New York City

By Joe Austin | Go to book overview

4
REPAINTING THE TRAINS
THE NEW YORK SCHOOL OF THE 1970s

THE FIRST TRY

During the fall of 1973, the MTA initiated a project to rapidly repaint the entire subway fleet, almost 7,000 cars, at a cost of ten million public dollars. There is no record that the repainting strategy was planned or executed with the knowledge or advice of Lindsay's Anti-Graffiti Task Force. In fact, it appears that the MTA chose the repainting strategy in place of repairing the fencing around the storage yards, which the task force had recommended. 1 As a public authority accountable to the New York State Legislature, the MTA is under no compulsion to play fair with the New York City's mayor's office. 2

Under ideal operating conditions, individual subway cars are repainted as part of their scheduled maintenance, but the general repainting was timed so that any new writing would have to take place during the winter months, when the weather would make it more difficult for writers to

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Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became An Urban Crisis in New York City
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Taking the Train *
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - A Tale of Two Cities 9
  • 2 - The Formation and Structure of "Writing Culture" in the Early 1970s 38
  • 3 - The Construction of Writing as an Urban Problem 75
  • 4 - The New York School of the 1970s 107
  • 5 - The Transit Crisis, the Aesthetics of Fear, and the Second "War on Graffiti" 134
  • 6 - Writing Histories 167
  • 7 - Retaking the Trains 207
  • 8 - Writing Culture, 1982–1990 227
  • Conclusion - A Spot on the Wall 267
  • Appendix - Sources from Writers on the History of Writing 273
  • Notes 275
  • Selected Bibliography 341
  • Acknowledgments 345
  • Index 349
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