Can Faneuil Hall Remember Its Historical Roots?

Property management has asked that street performers not use microphones.

Faneuil Hall—the tourist stop that combines historical landmark status with all your scented candle needs—is apparently trying to tone down its assault on at least one of your senses. The Boston Globe reports that street performers there are not happy about a new rule that bans them from using microphones with amps:

A new rule prohibits the jugglers, stuntmen, and circus performers who work in the marketplace’s storied street performance program from using devices to amplify their acts.

The property manager, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. of New York, sees the change as an early step in revamping the face of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Ted Furst, a Boston consultant to Ashkenazy, said the company wants to make Faneuil Hall quieter, a nod to its historical roots.

The desire, he said, “is to just tone it down. It’s loud, and it’s a little pushy over there sometimes.”

This is interesting reasoning for a few reasons. On the one hand, the attempt to make the place less frenetic seems noble in its intention, even if it is hurting the street performers’ bottom lines. If we’re talking history, it is surely true that Sam Adams did not have to shout over a dude on 10-foot unicycle playing the harmonica.

That said, Faneuil Hall has never been a nunnery. The place has long served as a meeting place for crowds and speeches and whatnot. (It was probably also designed, like the city of Worcester, as a pronunciation test for Boston residents to identify and embarrass outsiders.) And if it is historical purity and colonial quaintness they’re going for, well, there’s a lot left to do. There are so many things assaulting one’s senses at Quincy Market these days that taking the microphone from the hula-hooping stilt walkers seems like a drop in the bucket. The half-nude guys greeting tweens outside Abercrombie don’t exactly scream “18th century authenticity.” If indeed this noise regulation is just an “early step,” then perhaps we’re headed toward a very different feeling Faneuil Hall. As it is, though, the place might be slightly quieter but no tourist is going to think she took a time machine back to Colonial Boston.

  • http://www.fibrowitch.net/ Jan Dumas

    Now I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure there were no megaphones or speakers back in 1772. I dislike how the areas historic past has been made light of just to keep tourists in Build a Bear or tacky tourist restaurants, Cheers any one, is that sock store still there? I would be happy if the got rid of the street performers and replaced every shop with a non chain store.

    That is never going to happen, so I am willing to put up with quieter street performers and more information about the history of the area. At least we still have parts of Faneuil Hall to teach history to the tourists.