A Visual History of Graffiti on the Erikstorpsgatan Substation

Olle and Luisa were out wandering this morning, and came across a building in industrial Malmö with this luscious lettering:

A sign on a building in Malmö, Sweden: art deco letters reading "Malmö Elverk"

I love so much about that typeface: the low crossbars (A, E, R, K), the subtle tuck-in of the umlaut on the O, the dreamy swoopiness of it all (see also Wouter on the death of swoopiness).

Of course I had to do some detective work and find the sign in context.

Fortunately Olle had left the geolocation embedded in the JPEG’s EXIF, and I was able to find it with a little Google Maps wandering; it looks like a power substation:

The same Malmö Elverk sign in context, on a beige-brick building in an industrial area, in Google Maps Street View

A search for more information about Malmö Elverk led me to this collection of images in the collection of the Malmö Museum, one of which jumped out at me:

Another Malmö Elverk substation, on Erikstorpsgatan.

It’s a similar building, presumably also a substation, and also with lovely typography. The museum’s digital collection helpfully contained a street address in the item’s metadata, and so with some additional Google Maps wandering, I was able to see this location in its current context on Erikstorpsgatan:

The same Erikstorpsgatan substation, from 2022 in Google Maps Street View

One of the under-explored aspects of Google Street View is that archival images, stretching back more than 10 years now, are browsable. Meaning it’s possible to see a visual history of the graffiti on the Erikstorpsgatan substation from 2019 to the near-present.

Here’s June 2009:

The substation in 2009.

Two years later, in September 2011, there is some of the 2009 work still there on the grey door, but the brickwork seems to have been cleaned and re-tagged:

The substation in September 2011.

Three years after that, in June 2014, there’s been an attempt, by someone, to reset things with grey and purple:

The substation in June 2014.

Five years later, in August 2019, the building has been completely refreshed, including the signage on the grey doors, and some landscaping:

The substation in August 2019.

In October 2021 things are much the same:

The substation in October 2021.

But by June 2022, the most recent photo in Street View, there are new tags:

The substation in June 2022.

Apple’s Street View equivalent has an even clearer view from June 2022:

The substation in 2022, from Apple Maps.

I am fascinated by the world of letters, and one of the things I love most about wandering about the world, when I’m able, is paying attentions to signs, noticeboards, warnings, posters. It’s nice to be reminded that when I’m close to home, I can still venture out on the screen. Thank you to my wandering friends for that.


vbj's picture
vbj on July 28, 2023 - 19:02 Permalink

I'm curious about whether/how tagging reflects political and societal climate. And, literacy outdoors!