Graffiti Makes Indelible Return to NY Subways


Subway graffiti, which defined New York’s stained reputation in the 1970s and ’80s, is back. It took decades of work and millions of dollars to clean up the train. But now officials are seeing a fresh surge of subway graffiti, with windows irreparably damaged with acid etching. Raising the specter of the bad old days, transit officials are vowing to fight a problem they say is even more menacing than the graffiti of decades past, reports the New York Times.

The vandals are using Armor Etch-All, an etching acid sold in art supply stores that is used by craftspeople to etch into glass or other materials. To create graffiti with the acid, it is mixed with paint or shoe polish. It leaves broad, sweeping, indelible marks, which subway crews cannot remove in subway yards, as they do with painted graffiti. Transit officials said most subway windows, which cost up to $130 each to replace, are vulnerable. Only the newest of subway cars, acquired since about 2000, are resistant to the new generation of graffiti. Their windows are protected with Mylar, a plastic coating that can be peeled off and replaced.


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