City Plans Fewer, Shorter Street Fairs

Street fairs in New York City are getting a makeover. The mayor's Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management says it will trim the hours of some street fairs, and combine others. Officials say the move was triggered by complaints from community residents that street fairs create traffic congestion, noise and litter.

Jonathan Bowles heads the think tank Center for an Urban Future, which has released two studies on how to improve street fairs in New York City. He says that reducing the number of street fairs is a good first step, but the city should concentrate efforts on improving the ones that already exist.

“There are a handful of very good street fairs, but too many of the vendors appear at all of the same fairs, and there are not as many really unique New York businesses, entrepreneurs and artisans that appear in these street fairs,” said Bowles.

Mayor Bloomberg said Monday that shrinking budgets for the police department and other city agencies contributed to the decision to reduce the number and duration of street fairs.

“I like street fairs like everybody else, but you have to have some limit in terms of where, and how long they last, and what the responsibility is to clean up,” Bloomberg said.