This post was prompted by the recent bombing attempt in NYC.......which really highlights the importance of the importance of eyes and ears on the street.
Having read (most of) Jane Jacob's famous book, The Life and Death of Great American Cities" fairly recently, I was struck by the role of the street vendors in preventing the Times Square bombing. Jane Jacobs emphasized the role of eyes and ears on the street in making a neighborhood safe. And gave a ton of examples.For one, deserted, overly quiet streets are dangerous. This is yet another one.
And video survellience can't replace the level of involvement a street vendor may have "we know the cops here by first name, we have their cell numbers." The vendors also have a handle on what looks normal and what doesn't.
Article is here it was titled "Street Vendors' Keen Eyes Alert Police to Threat in the print edition of the NY Times May 3rd http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/nyregion/03vendor.html?scp=1&sq=%20vendors’%20keen&st=cse
Not only was a bombing prevented, but the suspect was aprehended.....largely, as I understand it, because the intact van left a lot of evidence for law enforcement officers.
The issue of cutting back permits for street vendors is a hot topic and a continual one in NYC. One frequent argument is that they "clutter" the street. Personally, I think they add to the vibrancy of a city.
As far as our eyes and ears here in Pittsburgh...we don't have many street vendors (yet). But we do have retired people. Seriously.
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