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Public Displays

This section of Public Displays focuses on the use of public space regarding street fairs, parades, and street performers.

Street Fairs Need Fixing

By: Iesha Clement, Gaby Deane, Marina Nebro, and Cassandra Price

Walking down a street in New York City and happening upon a street fair is like happening upon a treasure. A regular street corner is transformed into a charming little fair filled with cheap purses, jewelry, lemonade, and food. Street fairs give us the opportunity to do something different without going too far from home. People are frequently caught off guard when they turn the corner on the way to their destination and find themselves in the middle of a street fair. It forces them to break with regular habits, and bring a bit of unexpected fun. A stroll has been turned into a half an hour’s worth of enjoyment with family and friends. Until you go to more than one. Suddenly, a unique, pleasurable experience is turned into a somewhat disheartening letdown. With increasing regularity, many of the vendors that appeared in the first street fair, appear in the next five or ten consecutive streets fairs. In 2005, according to policy brief Rethinking New York’s Street Fairs by Jonathon Bowles and Tara Colton, as little as 20 vendors held 46 percent of all the permits to sell food at city street fairs. Later, in 2010, it grew to 50 percent. That does not allow for much variety. They have taken on a bland quality; New York is filled with culture, diversity and artists and it is a shame that they are not represented in today’s street fairs.

Going to a street fair used to be exciting. At a Macaulay Honors Conference, one audience member mentioned that as a kid, she remembered all the novelties that were once associated with street fairs. But now, she is disappointed when she walks into a street fair- she cannot tell from one from another. Now, due in part to the companies that sponsor the streets fairs, it has become somewhat uniform. According to the Center for an Urban Future website, in 2008 Mayor Bloomberg agreed that street fairs had become too numerous and homogenous. Mayor Bloomberg took action and reduced the number of street fairs every year, which alleviated some of the problem. Read more…

March On

By: Iesha Clement, Gaby Deane, Marina Nebro, and Cassandra Price

Judge Duffy, the judge of the 1993 court case Ancient Order of Hibernians V. Dinkins said of the exclusion of Irish gays and lesbians in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade: “ I cannot envision a Parade put on by any organization that would restrict its participants solely to those individuals who have never sinned. Such a gathering surely would be quite small in number, and those who would hold themselves out as entitled to participate most likely would be hypocrites.” Today, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization is still struggling to obtain the right to march under their own banner in the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In 1991, according to the court case The Ancient Order of Hibernians V Dinkins the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization requested permission to partake in the festivities, and were rejected. Instead, a compromise was reached. Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization members were allowed to march in the parade, but were not allowed to do so under a separate banner. The AOH claimed it was not consistent with the teachings of the AOH. This compromise is still used today, but now other parades, such as the St Pats For All parade, allow gays and lesbians to partake in the festivities under their own banner. A representative from the AOH was unavailable for comment. Read more…