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Site tracks Chicago street art

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CTA graffiti (William DeShazer/Chicago…)
March 12, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

Chicago has been tagged one of the top places for street art, according to a new graffiti tracker.

Grafrank.com showcases graffiti across the world, including Chicago, where window etchings on CTA windows, tags on agency signs and paint on the areas near train doors are popular.

The site comes as the CTA is about halfway through its pledged timetable to power wash and remove graffiti at 100 rail stations across the system.

GrafRank culls photos posted on Flickr that are tagged as "street art" and "graffiti." The site features artists who have made their mark on the city and a heat index of the popular places to tag, based on GPS data from the photos.

Jake Dobkin, a New York writer, said he recently launched the tracker because he's long been interested in street art and wanted to determined the trendy places to tag.

As of Monday afternoon, Chicago was the sixth most popular city in the world for graffiti, according to his system, which he wants to expand to Instagram and pictures posted on Twitter.

In the meantime, the site shows that graffiti is a persistent problem on the CTA. The agency has said in the past it has spent about $4.3 million annually to clean up graffiti and replace etched glass on vehicles and in facilities.

In September, the CTA started sending "Renew Crews" to various stations to repaint surfaces and replace old signs. The goal of the $25 million program is to cleanse 100 rail stations in a year, the CTA said.

The CTA is currently working on Blue Line stations, according to its Renew Crew Web page, transitchicago.com/stationrenewal. Graffiti was recently removed at the Clark/Lake station and at the Polk Street entrance at the Harrison Red Line stop, the CTA said.

Dobkin, 35, said he doesn't feel his website will encourage artists to tag the CTA.

"The random tagger or etcher on the subway won't be photographed because most people don't recognize that graffiti as a form of art," Dobkin said. "This is more a tool for high quality artists."

Turn that Brown upside down

Service on the Brown Line will be temporarily suspended between the Southport and Belmont stations from 4 a.m. Saturday until 7 p.m. Sunday because of track maintenance work. Shuttle buses will serve as a substitute. Brown Line riders saw this section of track shut down this past weekend as well. A section of this track has been under slow zone for at least five years, according to maps posted on the CTA's website, transitchicago.com.

Talk to us

A new study set to be published in June concludes that the invention of Bus Tracker has sparked an increase in CTA ridership, the Atlantic reported last week. Did the creation of Bus Tracker have any effect on your riding habits? Send an email to tswartz@tribune.com. Please include your full name, age and neighborhood.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: California Blue Line

Forget everyday travel. A trip to the California stop is more like time travel. Just like its hipster community Logan Square, the stop has antique charm. The station, built in 1895, has wooden platforms and a stationhouse front reminiscent of days with less hustle and bustle. Over the years, the CTA has modernized parts of the station, including the stairwells. If the CTA ever adds an elevator to provide accessibility to riders with disabilities, hopefully the agency will still retain the station's classic style.

Next up: Washington/Wells.

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