Empty Space.

Gentrification doesn’t benefit everywhere equally. Even though some neighborhoods just blocks from where I work are being torn down and rebuilt into towering apartment complexes and condos I can walk the same distance in another direction and find derelict buildings. A rising tide lifts all boats unless they have leaks.

The Jim Reed Showroom, a former car dealership and warehouse down on Church Street, intrigues me. The area is home to a few businesses and a few bars, but the former car dealership, which would seem to be prime real estate, has been empty for at least twenty years now. It’s only a matter of time before someone does something with it but I wonder what’s taking so long.

It’s also a prime spot for graffiti. Most of the graffiti isn’t that interesting. Yeah, sometimes I have to be a critic. But what is interesting to me is where the graffiti is placed. Here’s a satellite view of the place from Google Maps. I’ve added a few modifications of my own.

showroomThe red arrows mark the graffiti-heavy spots. The front of the building, facing Church Street, has had a bit of graffiti over the years but not a lot. It’s the 16th Avenue side that has the most graffiti–especially a couple of loading dock doors. There’s a bit behind the building, facing Hayes Street, but not much. And the side behind Play Dance Bar, Tribe, and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum has almost nothing. You’d think that would be the prime spot for graffiti since it’s protected, even hidden, but the taggers want their work to be seen. And they mostly choose a spot that faces a small park, although it’s not a public park. That space with the trees and paths you see on the left is fenced off and exclusively for the use of people who work in the businesses next door.

showroom1 showroom2

Anyway the desire for visibility may be why, even though a few windows are broken and there’s not much security around the place, there’s no graffiti inside either. At least not as far as I can see. I haven’t been inside–really–but through the windows I can see a place that’s eerily deserted and quietly collapsing in on itself.



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  1. Gilly Maddison

    Why do we NEVER see the artists at work? Graffiti just appears. I think it’s the same aliens that make crop circles.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s funny you say that because the other day I went for a walk and some graffiti had just popped up on a wall, seemingly out of nowhere. I really do want to talk to graffiti artists but they’re elusive creatures.
      I’ve been asked if I’ve ever considered doing graffiti myself but aside from not wanting to risk being jailed for vandalism I think it’s better to keep a critical distance. It would be like a movie critic directing a movie.


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