Musicians Protest New ‘Quiet Zones’ In Central Park

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A crackdown in Central Park is aimed at silencing musicians in prime locations, but those artists were fighting back on Sunday, defying the rules in the new quiet zones.

The demonstration had no moments of silence, protesting with each guitar strum, harp pluck and horn blow, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

The musicians vowed they would not go quietly from any of Central Park’s eight new quiet zones, especially in a favored spot at Bethesda Fountain Terrace which boasts impressive acoustics.

“It’s a gift they’re giving us all – a gift – and we shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the face,” park visitor Joanne Friday said.

“I like the peace and quiet,” said another park-goer. “That’s just me. Other people like music.”

The New York City Parks Department said noise complaints prompted the new rules.

A department spokesperson released the following statement:

“Parks are one of the few places you can come and hear the soothing sounds of nature: bird songs, falling water, the wind in the leaves, human conversation. With over 95 percent of the park available for musicians, we are setting aside less than five percent for those who come to the park for peace and quiet.”

The quiet zone signs appeared on May 23, and officers started their enforcement campaign right away, handing out tickets to violators.

“They’re targeting us,” guitarist William Donovan said.

Donovan, 22, said he was playing his guitar a week ago when five Parks officers surrounded him, demanding identification. He was ticketed.

“Disobeying an officer,” Donovan said. “[They said] ‘we told you not to come back, and you came back anyways.’”

“We cannot, and will not, stand by once again, to observe New Yorkers’ freedom of expression rights in this public park be eroded,” attorney Norman Siegel said.

Siegel said Parks officials want to move musicians away from the area as they consider plans to open a 75-table food court and serve alcohol there.

“That’s what you’d rather have than classical music? It’s a shame,” Donovan said.

Donovan and the other park musicians said to win their battle, they must play on.

Another quiet zone in the park is at Strawberry Fields, where music lovers go to honor the memory of John Lennon.

More from Dave Carlin
  • Dee

    I, with many other hard working, Original Artists in NYC have also been “QUIETED” and told where, when and how I can express myself, through my photography, in 4 of the NYC Parks. I’ve worked and lived in NYC for over 20 years and specialize in photographing NYC Parks and Gardens. I am a tax paying citizen. Now The Parks Department has put through the “NEW RULES” that has made it literally impossible for me to show and sell my photos on the weekends. I’ve been an Artist my entire life and Love to show in the Park. The Parks Department is taking away our Constitutional First Amendment rights! Telling New Yorkers what we can Display, Perform and Listen to in the Park; Where we can Display, Perform and Listen to it, and when we can Display, Perform and Listen, Whats next? What we Look at, what we Touch, what flowers we Smell? Talk about numbing the senses in all places – New York City – a place known world wide for its Artistic, Social and Political Expression. WE, have to band together – is The Parks Department Crazy?

  • Leo

    You know, I LOVE music. I play a couple of instruments, and I sing. I love going to musicals on Broadway, concerts, and independent shows. I grew up in a musical household.

    But you know what? Sometimes, I DO like a bit of silence. The quiet of a park in the middle of the noisiest city in this hemisphere is like a piece of heaven. Sometimes, People want to be able to enjoy the silence instead of having to listen to the music.

    It’s only 5% of the park. Nobody is saying that the musicians have to stop being musicians. There just need to be a few places where you can hear the birds instead of the guitars.

    • D

      Yes, it’s only 5% of the park, but it includes at least 3 areas (the bathesda fountain, the boathouse, and even strawberry fields–a place dedicated to the memory of john lennon where people have gathered to sing beatles songs ever since) where musicians have played in most often and for decades! So musicians are being targeted!

  • fred

    “With over 95 percent of the park available for musicians, we are setting aside less than five percent for those who come to the park for peace and quiet.”

    So this about the fascism of keeping 5% of the park quiet? All the commenters on here who are against this are hypocritical. Personally my favorite music is silence. But there is no space for my music since it is always interupted by muscisians with louder more obnoxious music.

    First they came for those who make quiet music, and no one said anything. then they came for … etc etc.

    NY is just protecting me. If you don’t like it, then don’t ask to be protected yourself.

  • Mean Little Blanket

    That is me playing the guitar, check out my rock band Mean Little Blanket.

  • David Evan

    New York has been taken over by the rich and property owners who rather than encouraging live music and living art prefer the stayed remnants of it that they’ve stolen away into their private enclaves and gallery. Private dining establishments that want to create ambiance by forcing a conditioned environment in a public space don’t belong in the middle of the park in any event.

    • Anonymous

      Contrary to popular belief Central Park is privately owned.

  • Andrea

    Fools! You think you are still living in the United States.

  • Cos

    And this is exactly what happens when people let nanny-state mentallities go – simply because it doesn’t affect them… Now it is affecting others… What can be done about it now? It started with smokers and now it’s working its way through those who don’t smoke, but rather play music. Learn by doing, folks… Simply because a new law doesn’t affect you doesn’t be a newer one won’t.

    • Cos

      Sorry… The last line should read, “Simply because a new law doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean there won’t be a newer one that will.”

  • S.Suisse Geneva

    Bloomy is turning all city parks into restaurants and bars for his
    buddy Danny Meyer ($hake $hack) and other top dollar people he
    associates with,this stinks and who really cares anymore?
    Gee !in the 1970’s one was not worried about “music noise” and usually
    the park was full of potsmoke,now it is all Tucson or Denver.
    Bar owners profit now if not pot dealers.
    In any event this old timer remembers that one went to the park for
    quiet ,to hear birds and the sound if kids playing ,whatever but this was
    a time when one read newspapers or a book on a park bench..
    I think we need musicians in one area and quiet zones as well then
    everyone is happy.

  • Aidan

    ha! you should’ve stood up for the smokers and the salt lovers … now it’s the musicians’ turn who’s next?



    • JOE


    • Joe

      Why don’t you go suicide bomb something mohamed.

  • sammy

    joe schmoe right on the money

  • steve

    would you rather people rob and steal from the rich? or would you rather them play music peacefully for 75 bucks a day?

  • joe schmoe

    quiet zones? NYC has turned into the suburbs………it’s disgusting…….rich yuppie families and their kids have ruined Manhattan……how about ticketing obnoxious, loud South American, Spanish and French tourists for talking WAY TOO LOUD? They are by far the most annoying noise i hear in central park

    • Gregory.

      You are correct Joe. I am a native New Yorker and its a commentary on NYC today.

  • J


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