Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The First and Oldest Public Park in the U.S.

Art in the Park was created for those people who have wandered through the beautiful Plaza here in St. Augustine. Some are local and most are visitors from out of town or country. We do not intend this blog to be a complaint board or a forum for malcontents. The world has huge problems with poverty, war and famine. That said, we gotta voice a complaint regarding the City's administration and maintainance of the Plaza De La Constitucion.

The artists licensing issue is still up in the air and the current Mayor was quoted as saying that fines and enforcement are suspended for now. An election is coming up and I'm certain that no one wants to jump into a fray regarding the 1st Amendment. The City has since gone from micro-managing with two pages of "rules" to completely ignoring the Plaza and all activities that occur there. The Summer Concert Series is an excellent activity and adds to the city's ambience. The results of foot traffic from visitors and locals watching the concerts, the Changing of the Guard and shopping is now being ignored by the city. The grass is going to seed and the mulch is not being replaced leaving bare dirt spots throughout. This is minor and perhaps once someone responsible is aware of the conditions, it will be corrected.

There has been discussion amongst vendors over first Amendment rights to display and sell their wares. To be frank, we've gotta inform you that the first Amendment rights to sell goods in public applies strictly to books, publications, paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs. This has nothing to do with the "definition of art", but is a definition of what means of expression is covered under the freedoms of speech and press. We now have individual vendors taking up two hundred square feet of the Plaza, generators running, spewing noise and exhaust, and jewelry, jewelry, jewelry. None of this has anything to do with an artist's First Amendment rights.

The city has walked away from any sort of management of the Plaza.


  1. So, what year was the park established? Boston Public Gardens and Boston Commons claims to be the oldest public park in the U.S. too.

  2. According to WikiAnswers .....Boston Common was purchased by its citizens in 1634 for 30 Pounds and officially set aside as public or "common" land by a vote in 1640. The park's original purpose was for military training grounds and a place for grazing cattle

    The Plaza was established by Spanish Royal Ordinances in 1573, fourteen years before the first English settlers of Jamestown
    struggled ashore in Virginia.

    Semantics enters the picture......King Phillip ordered the Plaza to be the center of the town.It may nave been used by the public but it was still "owned" by the King.

    Let's not forget that Native Americans had thier common "meeting places" as well.