Street Sweeping Soho's Art Vendors

City officials seeking to limit street vendors

Artists in New York City revitalized Soho in the 1970s, helping turn it into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. Now local officials are trying to chase them off like rats.

A plan being considered by the City Council would limit the number of vendors selling art on the streets to two per block. Cue the outrage.

"The police have no right to move us," Peter Robinson Smith, who peddles wire-mesh sculptures costing as much as $700 on West Broadway, told the New York Post.

"This is First Amendment-protected free speech, and the battle for our rights is being fought right here."

Not surprisingly, some city officials feel differently.

"At certain times, West Broadway is excessively congested," said Councilman Alan Gerson, the plan's sponsor. "The current laws are not working."

You can even find a difference of opinion about the art sellers among retailers along the nabe's streets.

Ebony Wiresinger at the Satellite jewelry shop likes having them around because "it brings our [target shopping] demographic into the neighborhood and they wander into the store."

But Eric Chelman of Franklin Bowles Galleries on West Broadway complains that "A lot of them are not even artists ... It is too much like a flea market."

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