Where is Oakley’s Graffiti Alley?

Behind Cobb’s Car Care Center, off Rosslyn Drive in Oakley, sits a graffiti artist’s paradise. Concrete walls towering almost 10 feet are layered with spray painted tags, each depicting a different signature in large, colorful bubble letters. But this secluded spot curtained with foliage wasn’t meant to serve as stomping grounds for street artists.

Photograph by Wes Battoclette

The city built the retaining walls in the 1960s to control flooding from Duck Creek, which runs from Kennedy Heights to Otto Armleder Park and into the Little Miami River. When the creek is low, pedestrians can access this graffiti alley via sidewalk off Rosslyn. So who’s in charge of removing the illegal art? The Stormwater Management Utility (SMU) division of Greater Cincinnati Water Works is, but it’s not easy, says Eric Saylor, a stormwater management engineer. “We have painted over the illegal—and especially vulgar—graffiti in the past, and within two to three days it is re-tagged.” Making things harder is the fact that SMU doesn’t allocate funds for graffiti removal. While we don’t condone defacing public property, there’s nothing wrong with admiring this vibrant display.

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