Why can’t News Stands be art?

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Why can’t News Stands be art?

The street side news stands offer many possible choices for a film set designer or production designer. Fewer choices for the news stand operators.

In what often seems as an all too zealous effort to ‘clean up’ NYC or fix what isn’t broken, iconic news stands are being replaced with homogenized glass and steel structures on the street. We’re all about options, but this approach seems to be reducing options. Well, not seems to be reducing options, is reducing options and choices.

NYC has contracted with a Spanish based company to replace the existing owner-operated or entrepreneurial news stands with franchises. Franchises, as always, using the same design and same inventory in every location. Blah.

We’ve always loved the New York City News Stands. Sure they’re somewhat ramshackle, maybe covered with poster and graffiti, but they are individual. Like the guys who generally run them. They are each part of a specific neighborhood.

Streamlining them might be appropriate for some locations, but certainly not all. Unless the goal is to homogenize the entire city. That would strip the creativity and character from the place. Much of that has happened with the Mallification of Manhattan. Well, at least every Manhattan resident now has access to the same shoddy products Staples sells everywhere else in the country.

We believe that we all need to support entrepreneurs at every level. Not when they’re wrong of course, but we need to, as a society, encourage the idea risk taking. One man’s news sand in the next guys personal computer.

So why do the news stands need to all look the same? Are news stands the next Pinkberry? We hope not. But why can’t a stand in SoHo or the East Village be built of say, old school bus parts? Or covered in mosaic tiles? Shouldn’t a stand in the Flat Iron District be in keeping with the area or iconic in another, contrasting way?

Just a few thoughts. Thanks to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York for pointing this out.

And why are the stands now owned by a corporation? What happened to the small business owner? Who knows better what we might like to read or need than the guy we see every day or an executive 3,000 miles away?



  1. […] Kevin Lee Alan Design, who runs his own blog site has a very cool article about the replacement of the small news stands in NYC, I have seen and purchased papers, and what not from these small outlets, and often took time to look at them, ramshackle is Kevin’s word not mine, its his city, but I have to agree with him, both in the accurate desription, and the need to save them, having travelled all over the world I have seen so many similar designs, Paris is strewn with them, London has them to, so do most big cities, they are an icon, of yesterday, that should be protected, mindless bean counters thinking they have to replace them to create the corporate image should be hauled in from of the design council and told, but mostly, I think some one in New York should film them and load up to Youtube, for no other reason than they need to be recorded, the corporate suites will have their way, and we,the sensative designers will look one day and they are gone , replaced with glass boxes with no apeal, unless they do a re resign, offer more options, space for advertising, a little home decorating to personalise. […]