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Chicago is home to a large creative community, which comes hand-in-hand with cool street graffiti. The city is known for its love of public art, from the Picasso sculpture at the John Daly plaza through to art museums and arts and crafts festivals. While the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation aren’t happy about color being splashed across walls (and there’s a zero tolerance policy towards graffiti, with harsh penalties and regular graffiti removal) you can still spot brightly colored street murals that are great for an Instagram post or two, alongside tags of well-known graffiti artists. Here’s where you can find some of the best Chicago graffiti:
Wabash Art Corridor
Chicago’s best street art can be seen at three locations in the city: Wabash, Pilsen, and Wicker Park. First up is Wabash, which is home to enormous street murals on buildings as tall as twelve stories. You can find street art on walls running down the Wabash corridor, and also on walls in the surrounding South Loop neighborhood. The artwork has been splashed over 40,000 square feet of walls and buildings in total in the neighborhood and features work by artists including the famous Argentinian Marina Zumi.
The murals, which were created through collaborations with the Colombia Arts College, local galleries, and artists, came to life in 2016. Some of the best murals to check out include a tribute to American singer Muddy Waters, on State and Washington, or the beautiful piece of two deers bursting through a galaxy-like landscape. Check out where to stay like a local if you want to fully immerse yourself when in Chicago.
Be sure to check out the murals in the Pilsen neighborhood, where you can find colorful and symbolic pieces and even a whole house turned into a painting. Head to the house of Hector Duarte, who is an artist that turned his home into a colorful piece of public art. The house is splashed with references to the area’s ethnic culture, with an urban version of the Gulliver mural covering the entire building. You can find the house on Wolcott with Cullerton, to the south of Harrison Park.
Continue walking through the neighborhood, and you’ll stumble upon the artwork referring to the barrio’s cultural mixing pot. Pilsen is best known for its large Czech population, after large-scale Czech immigration to the area in the 1900s, and today it has a large Mexican community. Visitors can enjoy graffiti referring to both large cultural groups, alongside other cultural references.
Peaceful Wicker Park is known as one of the most hipster neighborhoods in Chicago, and is home to beautiful street murals and graffiti. Head down the side streets under the Blue Line tracks and you’ll arrive at Wicker Park, which is encircled by buildings splashed with graffiti and street art. Continue walking to nearby Logan Square for plenty more street art to soak in during your Chicago trip.
Moving away from colorful murals, for graffiti fans with ogling eyes, you can spot tags by Weed Wolf dotted around the city. They are done freehand with a marker or spray paint, and by one of Chicago’s most well-known taggers. There are tons of Weed Wolf’s tags in various locations in the city, especially along the L-line.
Street artist Left Handed Wave splashes their signature person in a bunny suit, or sometimes a banana suit, with a cheeky grin on their face. Be sure to keep on the lookout!
You’ll see colorful roller brush style graffiti at the Damen Silos, which are abandoned grain silos. The silos have been painted with dripping paints and offer a picturesque scene of urban grey cylinders with vibrant bases.