Improving Street Fairs

Friday, July 02, 2010

It's street fair season. Jonathan Bowles, director of Center for an Urban Future, Suketu Mehta, New York-based journalist and author, and Stacey Sutton, assistant professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, weigh in on how to improve the city's street fairs.

How would you improve street fairs? Or do you like them the way you are? Play street fair czar and tell us what changes you'd make!


Jonathan Bowles, Suketu Mehta and Stacey Sutton

Comments [15]

amy from Brooklyn

There was a great street fair on Smith Street last weekend! Stinky Cheese, a local business, had music and held a cheese eating contest! A lot of local businesses opened food stands and booths. It was definitely a great model for a community street fair.

Jul. 02 2010 10:58 AM
Marie Gentile

Are you familiar with the World Science Festival - they just hosted the 3rd annual Science Street Fair in the NYU area. It took place Sunday, June 6 and drew well over 100,000 visitors. It is interactive and ALL about science - it was great!

Jul. 02 2010 10:58 AM

if the number one complaint about the fairs is they slow down traffic then i would say we need more, don't change a thing.

Jul. 02 2010 10:56 AM

They should be eliminated but they will never be eliminated because some people are making too much money off these enterprises. They don't benefit the neighborhoods at all.

Jul. 02 2010 10:56 AM
Leo in Staten Island

How about a fair on the Verrazzano Bridge? Upper level if the weather is nice, lower if not. Give everyone a chance to take in the amazing view from the bridge, and show off Staten Island a little.

Jul. 02 2010 10:56 AM

I would like to see street fairs that play on the ethnic diversity of NY...foods from all nations sort of thing, Also, fairs that encourage local artists to display and sell their work.

I think street fairs started out that way, if memory serves. Now they are boring; I don't go.

Jul. 02 2010 10:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Yeah, let's get some real change but not of the kind where we're going to get ripped off by having to pay 10 bucks for some gourmet 1 1/2" round cookie or 15 bucks for a 1" scoop of dark chocolate with ant egg ice cream in a cup!

Jul. 02 2010 10:54 AM
Jennifer from brooklyn

the Atlantic Antic is a great street fair and involves local business not only the same 4 venors - other communities could look at this as an example

Jul. 02 2010 10:53 AM

Get rid of them--they do nothing but clog the streets with a third-world version of Walmart, leaving behind tons of garbage that attracts rats. There is nothing local or charming about them. If they must exist, limit them to one block and allow local booths only. These should not be commercial ventures (if they must exist at all).

Jul. 02 2010 10:51 AM
Janine from Murray Hill

My neighborhood (Murray Hill) was backed up alternating Saturday and Sunday for 6 weeks straight. I've penned a letter to the Community Board stating that buses are unable to travel and pick up the elderly and handicapped for too many weekends in a row. How much money does the city make on these?

Jul. 02 2010 10:50 AM
RAI from Manhattan

The best improvement would be to eliminate the big street fairs. They are all the same and they cause gridlock in a wide area around them, producing increased air pollution.
Small fairs that extend at most a few blocks and which genuinely reflect their neighborhoods are acceptable.

Jul. 02 2010 10:46 AM

I need to correct the last sentence in my post so it makes sense:

Maybe it's time for another neighborhood to be similarly incovenienced...or does the city really need the money (if the city gets anything out of this, other than spending $ for increased police presence and overtime for sanitation to WASH down the streets).

Jul. 02 2010 10:15 AM
GrouchyInBrooklyn from Prospect Heights

Street Fairs! Yuck!! My restaurant in Brooklyn had to suffer through 3 weeks of a poorly organized and barely publicized Street Fair. Our business (and every other neighboring business that I talked to) was down all three weeks PLUS our toilet was broken because there were no Portable-Jons on the street (more great planning!) but people (mostly drunk, watching the World Cup at neighboring bars or strolling with their kids) needed to "go" somewhere.

I think if a street is going to get shut down it shouldn't be just at the whim of 1 or 2 businesses - there should should be some sort of petition that 75% of the business need to approve ... or something. Something more fair and organized.

Community spirit is great, but if I can't pay my bills and stay in business after 3 unnecessarily terrible weekends what does that do for the community/neighborhood.

Jul. 02 2010 10:11 AM
stuart from guess

How about not shutting down so many major thorofares on the same day? On one Sunday this spring, we drove across 57th Street from the west side to the east side to get to the 59th street Bridge. Seventh ave and Lexington were both shut down for street fairs. Also, there were two street fairs on Broadway in the west 70s within a month. Maybe it's time for another neighborhood to be similarly incovenienced...or does the city really need the money (if the city gets anything out of this, other than spending $ for increased police presence and overtime for sanitation to was down the streets).

Jul. 02 2010 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC

Good idea, what was once a fun thing has turned into a venue for selling "the same ol' crap", i.e., overpriced T-shirts and tube socks (yuk!) and way overpriced cheap lemonade (pink or not!) and food. The only good side of these street fairs now is being able to cross the street without waiting for the light to change. Well, even then there are the stupid people who don't know how to walk or who think they're the only ones on the street! Hey, if I didn't bitch it wouldn't be me. Happy July 4th--mind you I can bitch about that too but I won't.
Are you sick of me yet!!

Jul. 02 2010 10:07 AM

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