34th Street Wall
||The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's general notability guideline. (July 2013)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (July 2013)|
The 34th Street Wall is a 1,120-foot-long retaining wall along SW 34th Street in Gainesville, Florida. The wall, which dates back to 1979, was originally built to prevent erosion of a hill on the nearby University of Florida golf course when 34th Street was widened from two lanes to four.
The wall itself is most notable for being covered with layers of graffiti up to an inch thick in some areas. Messages painted on the wall have included marriage proposals, birthday wishes, graduation announcements, celebration of athletic victories, public awareness, promotion, and tributes. Musician and Gainesville native Tom Petty once noted that among the first things he saw when returning to Gainesville for a concert was a welcome message painted on the wall.  Although most of the graffiti on the wall is done by students at the university and members of the community, there is occasionally "tagging" and professional graffiti.
Although technically illegal, neither the Alachua County Sheriff's Office nor the Gainesville Police Department have charged anyone with criminal mischief for painting on the wall. In the past, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to prevent graffiti on the wall, including painting the wall white and the use of graffiti resistant coating, but in more recent years, the wall has been accepted as a Gainesville landmark and is a part of the University of Florida student culture. When the city last resurfaced 34th Street and widened the bicycle lanes, this originally required removing part of the wall. Instead, officials opted to narrow the road median, leaving the wall intact. In addition, waste containers are provided to allow for proper disposal of used paint supplies.
In December 2011, a group of zealots wrote "Terry Jones for President" and "Jesus is the Only Way" on the wall. In February 2013 the entire north half of the wall was usurped by a local church, who painted an orange background and then an internet address for their local worship place. Later that same month, a christian college group painted the entire wall (excluding the Rolling victim memorial) black with the words END IT MOVEMENT in order to spread awareness about modern day slavery.
One of the more notable "panels" on the wall is a tribute to the victims of the Danny Rolling murders. The memorial lists the names of the five students who were killed, and was first painted in 1990 using black, red, and white paint by Adam Byrn Tritt. Although it has been painted over several times, it has been regularly re-painted and touched up. Other memorials have come and gone over the years, however the Rolling victim memorial is the only one that is continually maintained. The memorial just went through its 20 year anniversary of the terrible tragedy that befell Gainesville during the Danny Rolling murders; during which a plaque was placed below the graffiti memorial reading "In Memory Of:" following the victims of the Danny Rolling murders. During this anniversary, wall repainter Nick Turner painted a large sign below the plaque exclaiming to "Not Paint Here: Memorial." Ever since the painting of the memorial, locals to Gainesville have respected and treated it as a permanent addition to the graffiti wall; but occasionally, someone from out of town will paint over it. For 8 years, Turner has been repainting the wall to its original memorial each time it becomes defaced, the worst being when a rival football team spray painted "IT HAPPENED 10 YEARS AGO, GET OVER IT GAINESVILLE." over the entire memorial, and blacked out the rest, resulting in a complete repainting by Turner. In another, more recent incident, a Gainesville resident painted over the heart, changing it into an American Idiot styled "heart grenade."
- Benham, Kelley (February 24), Through thick and thin, retrieved May 5, 2009
- Wallace, Alice (December 28), Does wall deter graffiti?, retrieved May 5, 2009
- Riggs, Heather (September 21), Defaced Dahlem memorial fixed, retrieved May 5, 2009
- Messages on the Wall - A site maintained by the University of Florida Digital Libraries cataloging many of the messages painted on the wall