I Love NYC Street Fairs
Not every New Yorker enjoys our street fairs. In fact, a lot of us hate them. Every season, the New York City papers are filled with stories about what a nuisance they are. With two or three running simultaneously each weekend day during the summer, the street fairs snarl traffic and displace parking spaces. And, it’s said, they’re all the same, with the same vendors pushing the same merchandise.
City government here has recently responded to citizen complaints with a plan to reduce the number and operating hours of the fairs. Activist groups are also pushing for greater variety among and within the fairs.
But, honestly, I couldn’t care less. I love New York City’s street fairs just the way they are (although I wouldn’t complain if there were more and varied local vendors). I pick up a new wallet, new socks, a new messenger bag each year. I can’t wait each week or so to enjoy a big plastic cup full of fresh-cut watermelon spears. And the people-watching simply can’t be beat.
In fact, I love them so much that in 2009 and again this year I created a custom Google Map that shows the dates and location of every street fair in Manhattan from April through November. If you love street fairs like me, or if you hate them and want to avoid them like herpes, check it out.
So far as I’ve been able to determine, this is the most complete listing available online, since it draws information not only from the websites of the three main street fair producers, but also includes several one-off events I happen to know about, like the Barbecue Block Party, Gay Pride, and the Ninth Avenue Food Festival, among others.
Here’s all the fairs, color-coded by month. Click the link below the map to jump to the full Google My Map, which includes a sidebar with all the events listed by name in chronological order.
As I said, this map includes only Manhattan street fairs. But there are events scheduled in most of the other boroughs, not to mention Long Island, New Jersey, and beyond. My map is open to public collaboration, so please feel free to add any events you know of.