These Denver neighborhoods had the most square footage of graffiti

Five Points had the most graffiti removed in 2016. (Megan Arellano/Denverite)
Graffiti on the Art District on Santa Fe. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) art district on santa fe; bid; lincoln park; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
Graffiti in the Santa Fe Art District. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Before Denver’s street art program, before even Denver’s art districts, there was the unsanctioned public expression known as graffiti.

In this Chart of the Week, we take a look at which parts of the city have the most reported graffiti. 

Of course, plenty of graffiti goes unreported, Denver Police Department Graffiti Unit Detective George Gray notes. Though DPW removes graffiti, the police catalog it to keep track of gang rivalry, taggers, hate speech, eulogies (RIP messages), declarations of love, and threats.

Graffiti is also a costly form of expression, at least for the city of Denver. Last year, the city allocated roughly $1.2 million removing graffiti. So which areas are most impacted?

According to data from Denver Public Works, Five Points had the most square footage of reported graffiti in 2016. Capitol Hill was about 4,000 square feet behind that.

Here’s what it all looks like:

Then behind the neighborhoods, you have the people. Westwood resident Michelle Schoen carries paint in her car to cover tags, plus she says that she reported lots of graffiti in Westwood.

Schoen’s concern is that graffiti makes her neighborhood look run-down — and that it affects morale.

“We found that people in a community with high tagging are fearful. They don’t come out of their houses as often, when they do, they’re looking over their shoulder,” she said. “So the idea is that you take it down so you don’t have as many neighbors that are fearful.”

All told, DPW removed an estimated 2.1 million square feet of graffiti in 2016. That’s quite an improvement from 2013 when the square footage removed was almost twice as big.

Here are the numbers for each Denver neighborhood:

Neighborhood Square feet of graffiti removed
Five Points 30,887
Capitol Hill 26,140
Baker 23,374
Elyria Swansea 20,614
Westwood 20,079
Villa Park 19,599
Athmar Park 16,420
Lincoln Park 14,649
Clayton 13,531
Barnum 13,018
Overland 12,617
Hampden 11,275
Cole 11,090
West Colfax 11,036
Highland 7,295
Speer 7,283
Valverde 6,300
Mar Lee 5,633
Barnum West 5,587
Sunnyside 5,310
Congress Park 4,987
Civic Center 4,458
Globeville 4,282
Cheesman Park 4,095
North Capitol Hill 4,042
City Park West 3,901
Ruby Hill 3,855
Indian Creek 3,800
Platt Park 3,670
Harvey Park 3,439
Auraria 3,238
CBD 2,502
Skyland 2,439
College View – South Platte 2,385
Union Station 2,363
South Park Hill 2,310
Sun Valley 2,150
Fort Logan 2,020
Virginia Village 2,002
City Park 1,900
Washington Park West 1,737
East Colfax 1,675
Berkeley 1,357
Montbello 1,272
Northeast Park Hill 1,220
Jefferson Park 1,105
West Highland 1,039
Harvey Park South 965
Goldsmith 960
Hale 835
Whittier 832
North Park Hill 705
Chaffee Park 680
Cherry Creek 640
Country Club 630
Sloan Lake 561
Washington Park 410
Regis 400
University Hills 340
Montclair 320
Washington Virginia Vale 300
Rosedale 290
University 197
Kennedy 160
Bear Valley 100
Stapleton 100
Gateway – Green Valley Ranch 76
Cory – Merrill 44
Lowry Field 40
University Park 28
Southmoor Park 25
Hilltop 15
Hampden South 8
Belcaro 4