History of Subway Art

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The history of the underground art movement known by many names, most commonly graffiti begins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the mid to late 60's, and started with bombing. The writers who are credited with the first effort are CORNBREAD and COOL EARL. They wrote their names all over the city gaining attention from the community and the local press. Then the movement made way to New York City where the teenagers would write graffiti on the subways. It is unclear whether this concept made way to New York City on purpose or if it was an accident.

Shortly after the CORNBREAD and COOL EARL effort, the Washington Heights section of Manhattan was giving birth to new writers. In 1971 The New York Times published an article on one of these writers. Taki 183 was an alias of a kid from Washington Heights. TAKI was a nickname for Demetrius and 183 was the number of the street where he lived. He was employed as a messenger, so he was on the subway frequently and he took advantage of it, by doing tags.

On the streets of Brooklyn a movement was going as well. Alot of writers were active. FRIENDLY FREDDIE was an early writer to gain fame. The subway system proved to be a good source for communication and established a foundation for interbouruogh competition. Writing started moving from the streets to the subway. At this point writing consisted of mostly tags and the goal was to have as many as possible. Writers would ride the trains hitting as many subway cars as possible. It wasn't long before writers discovered that in a train yard they could hit many more subway cars in much less time and with less chance of getting caught. The concept and method of bombing had been established.

After a while there were so many people writing so much that writers needed another way of gaining fame. First way was to make your tag unique. Many script and calligraphic styles were developed. Writers enhanced their tags with stars and other designs. Some designs were for visual...
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