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:

NeighborhoodSquare feet of graffiti removed
Five Points30,887
Capitol Hill26,140
Baker23,374
Elyria Swansea20,614
Westwood20,079
Villa Park19,599
Athmar Park16,420
Lincoln Park14,649
Clayton13,531
Barnum13,018
Overland12,617
Hampden11,275
Cole11,090
West Colfax11,036
Highland7,295
Speer7,283
Valverde6,300
Mar Lee5,633
Barnum West5,587
Sunnyside5,310
Congress Park4,987
Civic Center4,458
Globeville4,282
Cheesman Park4,095
North Capitol Hill4,042
City Park West3,901
Ruby Hill3,855
Indian Creek3,800
Platt Park3,670
Harvey Park3,439
Auraria3,238
CBD2,502
Skyland2,439
College View – South Platte2,385
Union Station2,363
South Park Hill2,310
Sun Valley2,150
Fort Logan2,020
Virginia Village2,002
City Park1,900
Washington Park West1,737
East Colfax1,675
Berkeley1,357
Montbello1,272
Northeast Park Hill1,220
Jefferson Park1,105
West Highland1,039
Harvey Park South965
Goldsmith960
Hale835
Whittier832
North Park Hill705
Chaffee Park680
Cherry Creek640
Country Club630
Sloan Lake561
Washington Park410
Regis400
University Hills340
Montclair320
Washington Virginia Vale300
Rosedale290
University197
Kennedy160
Bear Valley100
Stapleton100
Gateway – Green Valley Ranch76
Cory – Merrill44
Lowry Field40
University Park28
Southmoor Park25
Hilltop15
Hampden South8
Belcaro4