New York City

ATM Graffiti – Art or urban blight?

End is Nigh for EV Sidewalk ATMs
By Ian Duncan. Article here.

Starting in May, graffiti infested ATMs adorning the East Village streets will be eradicated in hopes to brighten one of New York’s coined most raunchiest neighborhoods. The East Village is reported to have more ATMs than any other area in New York. This is not surprising considering some of New York’s greatest bar life in out on the streets of the East Village and there is always a need for quick cash for that desired blurry night out. But, after Mayor Bloomberg signed the bill back in January when city council motioned to have the ATMs banned from the streets, you may need to fill your wallet before your next bar crawl.

But as with any bill passed, there are mixed reviews. Street ATMs have been multiplying for years – not only do they have a nice little additional perk for property owners (increased revenue), but are conveniently placed and often have smaller withdrawal fee than the bigger banks. While these positive aspects may be obvious – in the darkest of hours, these machines become targets of theft. Reports have emerged of entire machines being lifted from the concrete or of thieves drilling into the machines and making off with the cash.

Then there are people, especially those who live and breathe the east village, that say these graffiti afflicted ATM give a characteristic and nostalgic feel to the streets. Many people admire the graffiti of New York as an artform and these machines are just another canvas.

But, this bill will commence and property owners will be enforced to comply. A fine of $5000 will be distributed every week for any ATM that is not eradicated from the street, and when the fine goes above the $50,000 maximum, the Department of Transportation will have the power to extract the offending machine themselves. Owners are hoping to not go down without a fight – some even looking towards funding expansions for their businesses to make the ATM a part of the property’s exterior rather than in front of it, while having it still accessible from the street.

My father has always shied away from the ATMs on the sidewalk – since his father was an undercover detective he is a naturally suspicious person and has always encouraged me to follow suit. I am always a little nervous that someone may be watching for my PIN and try to grab my card, but that is just from my upbringing. I know plenty of friends who use these machines – but I would feel safer receiving my money from an inside ATM rather than in the open street.


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