Austin, Texas: Live Graffiti Capital of the World

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Most historians trace the first uses of graffiti back to New York City in the 1960s. Young men and women would ‘tag” their name and where they were from to various items of public property as a means of communicating with others who would reply. It was sort of like an early form of non-electronic text messaging.

This early movement gathered strength in the ’80s when Hip-Hop arrived on the scene. Artists and Hip-Hoppers then would tag train cars traveling from borough to borough with a conscious message. The idea was to promote a positive message in a place that was highly visible. That’s why passenger train cars were the early victims of tags.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, graffiti, in most cases, was considered a type of vandalism and destruction of both public and private property. While the perpetrators considered it an art form, the law and much of the public considered it a nuisance and eyesore.

Life is beautiful


Enter: Castle Hill.

While a long way from its geographic origins, The Hill Country’s own Austin, Texas, boasts some of the best graffiti in the world. In fact, graffiti in Austin has been so revered that one particular area of the city is reserved for graffiti artists to do what they do without fear of persecution or penalty.

Just a short walk from the Whole Foods headquarters and Waterloo Records, Castle Hill and its three stories of meandering graffiti art is located at the intersection of Baylor and 11th Street.

The castle atop the hill

While the spot officially has been dubbed the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, it is also known as the Baylor Street Art Wall. But to the locals it is known simply as Castle Hill, and is called that because of the building that sits atop the hill. While once owned by the Texas Military institute, the building very much resembles the rook of a castle.  Thus the name among the locals, “Castle Hill.”

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