Manhattan's most famous parks are lined with artists selling their sculptures, paintings and photographs — often of quintessential New York scenes — but city officials say the vendors have grown out of control and are trying to force many of them off the streets.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration wants to shrink the vendor population by up to 80 percent in some areas — dramatically altering a colorful part of the cityscape that has for decades served as an outdoor gallery popular among tourists in a city known worldwide for its arts.
"If they do this, it will be war in the city because so many people will lose money and a place to show their work," said Alex Basansky, a photographer who sells his prints of city scenes at the southeast entrance of Central Park.
The regulations would also severely limit the number of vendors in parts of Central Park, plus all of Union Square and Battery Park in downtown Manhattan and the High Line Park, a new elevated park along Manhattan's far West Side.
Painter Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T (Artists' Response To Illegal State Tactics), told NBCNewYork that his some 2,000 members will fight the new rules if they pass.
"We will resist, we will be arrested, and we will sue," said Lederman, who believes the new laws are unconstitutional.
NBC News - By Andrew Siff and Hasani Gittens - April 16, 2010