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Hipsters are ruining our city with art: photos of Mills 50 before murals

May 9, 2014

This week, we wrote about the recent commotion over murals in Orlando. In some neighborhoods, like Mills 50, some people are complaining about murals being painted on walls of small businesses – particularly a new one that was painted by local artist Dolla Short on the wall at Will’s Pub. They say they find it crude and have been complaining to the city about the increase in street art, which has to date not fallen under the city’s code-enforcement radar. Until now. The city hasn’t officially come out and said anything definitive, but it’s thinking about whether it’s time to regulate mural painting on private property. Comments on our story were surprisingly divisive and even a little mean-spirited. Some defended the murals, some complained about hipsterization of Mills 50 and others specifically called out Orlando’s most well-known mural painter, Andrew Spear, whose murals have become a ubiquitous part of the cityscape.

One commenter, in particular, complained that the people who love the murals are “trendy little pukes that still haven’t discovered a razor” and that the Mills 50 area is turning into a “train wreck/collage of gawdiness.”

So we went to Google Maps’ way-back machine (aka, Google Maps Street View, which lets you compare various street views going back to 2007) to remind ourselves what the neighborhood looked like before the likes of Spear, Will Walker, Dolla Short and others had their way with blank concrete walls. The photos below are images of what various areas and street corners look like today, with mural treatment, and what they looked like in 2007, before Mills 50 was infested with art.

First, here’s the mural on the side of Will’s Pub, which was painted this spring:


Here, according to Google Maps, is what the side of Will’s Pub looked like in 2013, before the mural went up. Plain concrete wall facing plain concrete lot:

wills side 2007

And here’s what that building looked like in 2007, before Will’s even moved in. We could have had a desolate storefront and a blank concrete wall overlooking a parking lot.

wills side blank 2007

Here’s a mural painted by Andrew Spear on Mills, at the bus stop in front of Forbidden City Chinese restaurant:

mills mural 2013

Here’s what that stretch looked like in 2007, before it was given the mural treatment:

mills no mural 2007

Next, we have another Andrew Spear mural, this one painted on a building at the corner of North Mills and East Colonial Drive on the side of a building occupied by cell-phone repair business IFixYourI.

ifixyouri 2013

Here’s what it looked like before the hipster pukes got a hold of it:

ifixyouri 2007

Here’s another art project that’s sweeping the city and contributing to our gaudy collage – plain electrical boxes around town have been painted by local artists to brighten up street corners and beautify neighborhoods. This one’s a little harder to see, but we’re talking about that colorful box, just to the right of the Publix sign at the corner of Shine and East Colonial.

publix 2013

If you’re the type who finds the painted boxes garish, though, you probably preferred looking at this view of the same corner:

publix 2007-2

Here’s a view of the Hideaway on Virginia Drive, which today sports an Andrew Spear mural overlooking the parking lot:

hideaway 2013

And before there was Andrew Spear, there was nothing but Miami Dolphins colors:

hideaway 2007

This one isn’t a mural, but it’s definitely art. When art-supplies store Sam Flax moved its business from its old location to a new spot at 1800 E. Colonial Drive, it hired Metro Finishes, a company run by Spear and fellow local artist Charles Marklin, to transform the building into a Mondrian-inspired storefront:

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 3.40.27 PM

Remember what it looked like before? We do:


Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 3.40.45 PM

Our verdict: More murals, please.


  • Tasty Chomps

    hear hear for art in the city

  • Ryan Feinberg

    People who don’t like living in a city should move to a gated suburb governed by a homeowners’ association. There aren’t any murals there.

  • Brandon

    The art in the Mills50 district in is my top ten reasons why I love living in Orlando.

  • Amber

    I guess I need to call the city to make my voice heard. The people who complain probably don’t do more than drive by these places. The suporters are the people who actually frequent these districts. Street art is art and I feel it expands culture in our urban landscape.

  • Mike Honcho

    What you failed to mention is that most of those murals are commissioned by the business owner that operates in the building with the mural on it. If folks can’t stand to look at that cool art, well maybe they shouldn’t occupy a city who that promotes creativity so well. To be honest not everyone likes the Mouse, but he’s there and everywhere…so tell those hillbillies that are still left from the Pre-Disney days to move on up to Lake City and the very north wilderness of Florida where they can enjoy the skunk-ape and the not-so popularized swamp lands of the sunshine state

  • PhoneLuzer

    I agree the murals make the areas more visually pleasing. … except the first one. I think the pain wall looks much better.

  • Laura

    Who ever wants to say community art is making standard concrete buildings look trashy, is obviously not using their brain.

    pure stupidity

    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  • dharmadog555

    I love the murals. I enjoy seeing the different electrical boxes as I travel around Orlando. The art is creative, vibrant and makes this town feel alive. Art won’t hurt you people! And complainers and haters should move to a gated communites with a homeowners association that will pick the colors for you. (Thanks to Ryan Feinberg for that idea.)

  • Vaughn Belak

    As a local artist and recently re-relocated citizen of Orlando I can say that a more colorful landscape is a first step to cultural growth in an area that used to be a wasteland. Orlando needs it’s own mouse free identity and the art on these walls is a wonderful way to show that new fingerprint. Thank you to all the artists that give us the gift of their wonderful vision. Let the haters hate and let the painters paint!

  • Amber

    just emailed and will follow up with a call of support for this movement, I encourage others to do the same…The City of Orlando Main
    Street Coordinator is Pauline Eaton…her e-mail is
    and her number is 407-246-3259. Commissioner Sheehan’s office – – her aide is Bill Stevens and his number is

  • Krimsen King

    that’s the nice thing about art… it is impermanent… just change it back if you don’t like it, sheesh…..

  • Julie Herman

    I love that Orlando promotes creativity and has allowed private business owners the freedom to express artwork on their buildings. I believe it speaks volumes about Orlando’s culture.

    Personally, some of the artwork isn’t my taste, but as we all know, art is extremely subjective. I would LOVE to see a little diversity with the artwork choices, but that is only my biased personal opinion and entirely up to the business owners who commission their artists.

    I applaud Orlando for putting so much effort into keeping the city vibrant and interesting. If people want cookie-cutter, this is probably not the place for them.

    Keep up the good work Orlando and thanks for keeping things interesting and diverse!!

  • The Sportsaholic

    I would be OK with it, except for the fact that they are “hipsters”. Now they must be stopped

  • Liz Miner

    I appreciate you taking the time to document the before and after. It’s less opinionated and more objective. There’s a clear visual improvement in these areas and although some may not have the taste for every type of art, it’s definitely an improvement to worn down concrete. Even if the content isn’t what everyone likes, colors will always be more appealing than run down anything.

    Thanks for the objective approach to an emotionally driven topic!

  • Julie

    Oh, and I would like to add that I do not understand the stupid hipster hating trend that has taken over all kinds of social media. I am in my forty-somethings and I just don’t get it. Haven’t most of us at some point in our lives fallen victim to the trends of our peers? Haven’t we all enjoyed foods that were trendy or popular at that moment in time?

    Now I see that people are writing in and complaining that expressing artwork is somehow the evil works of the hipsters?? I’m trying to wrap my brain around this, but just can’t seem to do it. The artwork may be the trend dujour, but I don’t believe it is the intent of the hipsters (that organized group of evil-doers) to demonize the city with their artwork.

    Any form of hatred toward a particular group of people is usually based on some type of fear and ignorance. (Unless the group is formed of haters themselves, of course). I am sick of hearing those who are following the hipster-hating trend. They are no better than the hipsters they belittle.

  • Foxy

    Makes the City Beautiful more beautiful!

  • Whatever

    First mural: Horrific. This is art? Oh right, I keep forgetting that in the post-modern age anything can be art.

    Second mural: Acceptable. Wouldn’t call it an improvement over the original wall, but whatever. Forbidden City is a great restaurant though, and I would highly recommend the lunch specials.

    Third…mural?: A painted metal box. Congratulations! This monument stands as proof that Orlando has Culture.

    Fourth mural: Pretty cool. Probably the only one which is a clear improvement.

    Fifth mural: My two year old nephew can splash colors on a blank piece of paper. Why are we calling this a mural? Because they colored in the lines?

  • thatsmemiked

    Stale Boring Before and Awesome Art After. I love what these artist have done. It brings the city to life and just a bit more livable

  • Wendy

    Looks to me like the “trendy little pukes” are making Orlando a more desirable place to live and visit. I was just telling a friend that resides in LA (that has long mocked Central FL) how the city is starting to come into it’s own… It would be nice to see Orlando develop it’s own vibe and stand out culturally.

  • NurseDebDeb

    LOVE the murals because they are done by professionals but those electrical boxes are a Hot Crafty Mess. It seems that the city just gave the green light to anyone that has ever wandered into a Michaels. Did the “Artists” have to show previous work or skill level before hand or was the honor just handed out to family and friends. How bout compensating more professional artists to redo those sad sad boxes and then we can really be the City Beautiful.

  • Shellia Dee Bailey

    As a person who has lived in Orlando and now in LA, it is disheartening
    to hear that some ungrateful Orlando citizens have such negative comments about
    the beautiful murals that Andrew J. Spear has taken the time to illustrate for
    you. These murals have reinvented and improve your community. I have had the pleasure to bring Andrew on MTV’s Real World and will continue to work with him in the future. If Orlando can’t seem to get it together – LA welcomes him!!

  • JP

    You skipped one.

  • Scottie Campbell

    Just for the record, Hideaway is in Ivanhoe Village, not Mills 50. Probably the thing I like most about art is it gets people thinking and talking — as the comments on this post show, these public art projects are clearly doing just that. Art is subjective and you have two choices: a) accept that some people are filled by art you might not care for, or b) be perpetually miserable.

  • Rae

    One of the best Orlando Weekly articles ever! It not only shows how art beautifies our community but also how businesses support local artists. I can only hope that city officials look at examples like Philadelphia that saw mural art as a way to bring the city together.

  • Jimbo Jones

    That is spick culture.

  • Kyle

    Take this Article in complete reverse and it makes sense.

  • Bob Macfarlane

    I love it! My son is involved with that in South Florida. He actually gets paid to do it.

  • Bearded D bag

    I love how the “before” pictures are more blurry, looks to be much gloomier (not as good lighting conditions), and overall are simply lower quality of picture than the “after” pics, which are taken in much brighter and better lighting conditions. Publix and the Hideaway haven’t changed their colors in years, if ever, but yet look at the difference in contrast. But of course like every good judgemental hipster, has to hate everybody and everything that doesn’t accept them, or isn’t like them.

  • Swell Pony

    I used to visit Orlando a lot back in the early 2000s. I always thought is was super lame. I hated how it all seemed like generic chain store ticky-tacky. Consequently, once it was no longer necessary for me to do so, I did not visit your city for many years. Then about 8 months ago, after some convincing by a friend, I visited the Mills50 area and fell in love with it. And the murals were one of the reasons I did. Now Orlando (particularly the Mills50 area) is one of my favorite destinations.

  • Ronald Mexico

    Of all the garish nonsense littering Orla…er, “Mills 50″ , people are put off by murals?

  • Kimberly

    And here we have it, ladies and gentlemen. This is the type of moron we’re up against.

  • JCG

    The art boxes in Mills 50 were painted by local artists in a juried competition — artists such as Bethany Taylor Myers, Danny Rock, Harry Glotfelty, Lee Vandergrift, Tim Eggert, Genevieve Bernard and many others.

  • Jimbo Jones


  • Rob Del Medico

    so glad that you were able to come from the coal mines to share your post this morning

  • Rob Del Medico

    are you real or are you the culmination of several decommissioned spambots lunked together to form a Voltron-esque megatroll

  • Rob Del Medico

    or it could be that some of the pics were taken before everybody had digicams on their phone and they were the best available

  • Jimbo Jones

    I am not going to conform to your sick disgusting white hating religion. Dropdeadfaggott.

  • Nikolis Tary

    It’s Florida. Who cares?

  • Businesse owner

    I love the art, downtown city life is suppose to be surrounded with art, lofe, happiness and great times..more art!!!

  • Rob Del Medico

    boy the Simpsons sure got dark.

  • Rob Del Medico

    Booming post. A+ contribution.

  • Jimbo Jones

    Stop masturbating in public, your mom might see.

  • Nicole Antonia Carson

    Nothing wrong with Miami Dolphins team colors! Although Spear’s mural is much better than the helmet which graced the wall before.

  • sarah b

    Why the fuck are people complaining about art?! I have been living in Orlando for 23 years and the artwork that has been accumulating over the years only makes Orlando that much more beautiful. Also, in the article itself you contradicted yourself. You keep talking about the art being “hipster” and “trashy”, yet you say and I quote “plain electrical boxes around town have been painted by local artists to brighten up street corners and beautify neighborhoods” which should be considered a GOOD thing, you fucking idiot. Whoever has the time to sit around and complain about something as positive as ARTWORK must not have a life.

  • shatterbeam

    i thhnk the ones on mills and up E. 50 that look like true art are great don’t really care for the tag artists who feel the need to spread word messages in tag art ofwhatever their trying to say.. its not art its trash no one wants to see your street name on a wall and when you did it.. show me a cool robot dancing with a dolphin thats neat!

  • Rob Del Medico

    time was that trolls actually put effort into their game. in 2014…we get Jimbo Jones, the Dave Valle of internet trolling

  • Jimbo Jones

    What does that meanfaggott? Are those fighting words little girl?

  • SirTerrence Hummel

    Artists gotta paint. They need places to show their art, for which there are verrrrrry few in this city. Those that don’t like the street art, should organize and demand more galleries and (affordable) studio space….or just shut up. I don’t know anyone personally who hates the murals. Not only do we have public art murals, we have GREAT murals. Some may remember, but Mills-50 at one time had a plague of bad graffiti, it was crude vandalism, awful-no-talent tagging. Now we have gorgeous street ART, and (so far) it has seemed that the taggers are respecting the art. WIN – WIN! So, if you don’t want the murals….welcome back to tacky-ass tagging.

  • SirTerrence Hummel


  • SirTerrence Hummel

    Ha! I was waiting for some IV-er to point that out! (it’s actually one of my favorites, works super well with the building and surroundings)

  • Rob Del Medico

    infer what you will, you clueless cumbubble

  • Jimbo Jones

    An insult fromafaggott? I miss chancing youqueers. You ever been chased homo?

  • Kathryn McHenry

    I love the growing culture in Orlando & am proud of the local artists who are helping to build a community together rather than apart…Kudos to all who are adding culture to our hometown!

  • Claudia

    What we need is more not less. And attacks on “hipsters” are uncalled for, I love that the city is more diverse. Why would people be scared or threatened by that.

  • Willy McCoy

    People will complain about anything and everything. The art is an improvement. As long as it’s not crappy gang tags and scribble I don’t see anything wrong with it. It livens the place up and adds to the culture.

  • Gabriel Farted

    fuck erin sullivan

  • Steven C. Di Pietro

    Did FOX NEWS complain about ART again?

  • peter kelly

    you cant make everyone happy. Keep doing what youre doing Orlando.

  • Adam Willits

    Ya! Orlando could use some vibrant art in it! Good for them!

  • Nina Travieso

    I prefer the murals, I live in the area and love the change! Thank you Andrew for bringing life to these dead walls

  • James Shupe


  • vacumatic

    These murals look like a bunch of shitty tattoos.

  • Downtown_Guy

    I choose to live in this neighborhood specifically because there is art and a different attitude. Get rid of the art and I’ll start looking for another place to live.

  • Amy

    Thanks for posting this! Definitely sending her an email now. :)

  • tcbnk

    “trendy little pukes that still haven’t discovered a razor”

    Dude, real men don’t shave.

  • Happy Artist

    Um. I personally hand-painted one of the boxes in College Park, and it’s a whole week worth of work. The point of painting them is to keep taggers and graffiti people from having an ugly say on an open metal “canvas”. There is a reason why cities all over the U.S. are commissioning artists like me to improve the surroundings.

  • Joy


  • The Za

    Sarcasm! That’s original! – Dr Horrible


    Here here. Some of them are pretty awesome, but the artist with all the “Bad Kitty” artwork must be super well-connected in this town because… wow. And if I see another pouty lipped Andrew Spear white chick I may scream. Dude is talented and I don’t know why he can’t branch out with his material.

  • ThunderHag

    The “before” pics, as noted in the article, are taken from the Google Earth archives; really a very smart solution to finding accurate, dated images of these areas quickly. Obviously the quality is lower than the “after” pics, which were not taken by a satellite (omg we live in the future where’s my flying car?) and then stored in lossy formats on a server somewhere for over half a decade. It’s silly to imply that the article is attempting to bias readers by this easily explained & understood disparity in picture quality. The article is attempting to bias readers by its nature as a well-written, well-illustrated opinion piece.

    PS: It’s tight work, Erin. Great concept, great execution. Let’s get colorful!

  • Toddious

    Whatever – you, my friend, are an idiot. You should probably just build your house out of concrete in the middle of a parking lot if that’s the type of scenery you enjoy…

  • Paul Knopf

    I thought it could only be racist old white men who hate the art and the first negative comment is by a racist who would have thought (probable a republican)

  • Paul Knopf

    I hope so you inbreed racist wake up and stay off the fox network knuckle dragger

  • Paul Knopf

    People here in florida are scared of everything

  • Paul Knopf

    Just because you do not like them everybody else has to suffer and live in a bland ghetto

  • Jimbo Jones

    Are you a kyke?

  • Jimbo Jones

    Jews segregate themselves from the rest of the world and have sex with their own blood, only. I am not a Jew, youdumbfuckingkyke.

  • Paul Knopf

    are you a racist inbreed knuckle dragging gun humper

  • Paul Knopf

    no one thought you where a jew most are educated which you obviously are not since you can not post a picture of yourself probable still use a film camera to take pictures of your trailer

  • Jimbo Jones

    …and you hate me, RIGHT KYKE?

  • Jimbo Jones

    And the most troublesome, 105 countries since to 250AD. Explain to me kyke why the Jews have been expelled from so many countries? i would love to here your blind lies of mistreatment coming from such a vile snide mouth as yours.