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Street Musicians Could Play Downtown During Lunch, Evening Rush: Proposal

 Musician on MLK Drive
Musician on MLK Drive
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Walking Across Chicago/Rob Reid

DOWNTOWN — Loud street musicians would be allowed to play Downtown during lunch and the evening rush hour on weekdays and Saturday afternoons under a compromise proposal unveiled by two aldermen determined to reduce the racket irking some Downtown residents.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said the revised measure — introduced after an effort to ban the musicians on Michigan Avenue and State Street faltered in the face of opposition — "struck the right balance."

The measure is expected to be considered by the full council in April.

The ordinance would restrict musicians who amplify their sound or play an instrument that produces a "sharp percussive sound" from performing in an area bounded by Michigan Avenue and Dearborn Street as well as Oak and Van Buren streets.

Those musicians could only play between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. as well as from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays, according to the measure.

That would allow the musicians to perform for pedestrians on their lunch breaks or headed home, without making it impossible for Downtown residents to hear themselves think, the aldermen said.

Originally, Reilly and Hopkins sought to ban the musicians entirely — an action that the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said would almost certainly be struck down by the courts.

If this measure is adopted, Reilly said he planned to work with the CTA and the Chicago Park District to expand the areas where musicians can play.

Street musicians already are barred from the streets near the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park or Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park while official performances are underway.


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