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Concluding that the vast majority of New York City street fairs are bland and repetitive, and in need of wholesale changes, the Center for an Urban Future today published a report that features ideas for improving these staples of summer from two dozen innovative New Yorkers, including the founders of successful markets like the New York City Greenmarket, Union Square Holiday Market, Brooklyn Flea and Chelsea Market.
The study, titled “New Visions for New York Street Fairs,” starts from the premise that the city’s current system of street fairs desperately need a makeover. It argues that large numbers of New Yorkers are dissatisfied with street fairs for a variety of reasons: there are so many of them that they quickly blend together (there were 321 of them in 2009); a majority of the vendors sell the same bland merchandise, such as tube socks, sunglasses and gyros; a handful of neighborhoods are inundated by the fairs, with a new one popping up almost every week; and with nearly a dozen street fairs on some weekends, the multiple street closures make driving or taking a cab through the city a nightmare. The study seeks to jumpstart a discussion about how to make these public events less generic, more interesting and better reflective of what’s unique about New York.
“New York’s street fairs have been a disappointment for too long,” says Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank. “It’s time to throw out the cookie-cutter approach and create street fairs that better reflect this incredibly unique and diverse city. There’s no reason to see the same vendors selling tube socks and gyros at almost every fair when New York has so many one-of-a-kind entrepreneurs and artists.”
A PDF of the full report is available here (PDF)