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MADISON AVENUE

Yet another pair of words you're likely to find only in New

York: stylish newsracks.

The Madison Avenue Business Improvement District today will unveil a

prototype for the kind of newspaper boxes that could populate the famous street

as soon as next year. Designed by industrial designer Karim Rashid, the

modular fiberglass newsracks are meant to fit in better with the architecture

of the neighborhood, said Matthew Bauer, BID president.

The prototype rack, which measures about 6 feet long and nearly 3 1/2

feet high, will house copies of The New York Times and New York Post, as well

as publications from the Gotham Writer's Workshop and the Learning Annex. It

will stand on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and East 77th Street, in

front of designer Issey Miyake's store. If the publications' owners like the

racks, the program could roll out in full next year, with the boxes populating

the district's area of Madison Avenue between East 60th and East 86th streets.

Some cities have considered newsracks to be an eyesore and have sought ways

to make them less so, but the companies that own them have on their side a

1988 Supreme Court ruling that said the boxes are a form of expression

protected by the First Amendment. Last year, New York passed a city law

regulating "street furniture," including bus shelters, pay toilets and the

replacement of nearly 300 newsstands maintained by a private company in

exchange for a cut of ad sales gained from huge billboards on the structures.

Some newsstand operators are suing to stop the city's enforcement of the law,

which does not cover newsracks.

Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, whose district includes the Upper East Side,

allocated $475,000 for the newsrack project and was involved with choosing

Rashid as the designer. Rashid's clients have included Prada and Giorgio Armani.

"The thought is that this newsrack is really great street furniture," Bauer

said. "It is a contemporary design, but whose lines and simplicity make it

harmonious with historic architecture that we find along Madison

Avenue."

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