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Urban Communication Regulation

Communication Freedoms and Limits


Edited By Harvey Jassem and Susan J. Drucker

Cities are where the majority of people in the world live. As such, it is critically important to understand cities when seeking to address quality-of-life issues. While the concentration of people in cities presents many complex issues that warrant attention, the focus of this book is on urban communication and human interaction as regulated by municipal governments. Thirteen scholars—whose backgrounds range from community organizing, to law, telecommunication, architecture, city planning, art, policy studies, and urban communication—examine public communication venues and opportunities, all of which are impacted by municipal regulation.

Whether it is the selective funding of public art, the establishment of architectural standards for public buildings, the regulation of signage, public assembly, food trucks, or telecommunication access, the authors in Urban Communication Regulation: Communication Freedoms and Limits contend that urban policy and regulation shape communication in cities. Through zoning, funding, "private law," and a host of other means, the regulation of communication has significant impacts on the quality of life for those who live in cities. The essays in this volume focus on many of these impacts, and suggest both why and how municipal regulation can improve the quality of urban communication.

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Chapter One: Didactic to Collaborative: A History of Public Art Policy in New York City (Emily Bauman)


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Didactic to Collaborative

A History of Public Art Policy in New York City


Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

In 1856, Henry Kirke Brown’s equestrian statue of George Washington was installed in Union Square. Thousands of people gathered to mark the dedication of New York City’s first public sculpture in a municipal park. Paid for by donations from private citizens, the monument was regaled by The New York Herald as an achievement by the art-loving city residents and “the commencement of the good work of beautifying our great metropolis …” (Kuhn, 2007). The following years proved this prediction as the city and its residents clamored to enhance their parks and buildings with statuary and monuments in an effort to promote a civic ideal and cultural status. This ushered in a legacy of collaboration between the public and private sectors to support the proliferation of public art that exists to this day. Public art now resides throughout the city’s parks, on street corners and along the medians of its major avenues, in the plazas of corporate structures, and within its federal buildings.

Over the years definitions of both the terms “public” and “art” have changed drastically, suggesting roles for public art ranging from edifying and aesthetic purposes to transformative and democratic ones. While its origins in New York and in the United States in general lie in an invested didactic...

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