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Dennis Oppenheim’s Tumbling Mirages (2008), installation in Union Square Park sponsored by Edelman Arts
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by Charlie Finch

Ninety years ago, socialist avatar Emma Goldman drew thousands as she spoke from a soapbox in Union Square or at the labor hall nearby, still standing today as the theater where one can see commercial performance art like De La Guarda and Jump. Folks from Brooklyn and points east came to May’s Department Store, one of New York’s first, to buy inexpensive clothes on weekends. Thirty years ago, Union Square was the largest open air drug market on the East Coast. Preppies and hippies would score there nickel bags at the eastern entrance to Union Square Park and work their way west for the harder stuff.