Broadway Panhandlers: Can We Just Pay At The Office?

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Can Newport, RI deal with one of it’s biggest quality of life issues?

Newport’s once notorious Broadway is in the latter stages of a massive facelift, but one of the street’s biggest blights remains and shows little sign of dissipating. Panhandling is one of those constant ongoing activities which hangs an anchor around the neck of Broadway’s economy. Can something be done to deal with actual panhandlers (not to be confused with the culinary store, now having its fourth annual Broadway construction sale).

Some locals want Broadway to retain some of its grit, which is fine, but we don’t need grit that’s asking us for a quarter or cigarette every few hundred feet as we stroll from Parlor to Pour Judgement. It’s doubtful that Whole Foods is just waiting for the last bum to stop asking for money before they gentrify the crap out of the neighborhood.

Broadway Restaurants are AMAZING.

Broadway is home to some of Newport’s best restaurants. Broadway chefs have been invited to compete in the Revolving Door’s Battle Chefs and have made it as far as the finals. They’re constantly appearing on The Rhode Show and letting Rhode Island know how they cook. Pour Judgement’s wings have won Newport’s Chicken Wing Cook-Off three years in a row. On top of great food, Broadway also features many of Newport’s best drinks and most of the city’s good craft beer bars.

It’s all well and good that Caleb & Broad is greatly expanding its al fresco dining once the sidewalk is finished, but eating outside loses a bit of its charm when a guy pulls up on a brand spanking new Rascal scooter and spends 45 seconds stuttering out the phrase “Ca-ca-ca-ca-can I ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ve a ci-ci-ci…”


For a couple years, there was a long-running trope on the Web about how women resented being sexually-objectified when they were walking down the street. It’s one of those experiences that most women share, so stories about it were great traffic generators for Jezebel and similar websites.

One of the ideas that went along with such stories was that men couldn’t understand what it’s like to be objectified by catcalls and the rest. We disagree because we feel we’re getting objectified to an even greater extent.

The crazy thing about panhandlers is that they reduce us to our pocket change and a half-pack of cigarettes. They don’t know who we are and they don’t care. We have no idea if they recognize us when they ask us for change for the 200th time. It would be nice if there was a cap where a panhandler just realized “After 100 times of asking this guy, I shouldn’t waste the effort anymore.”

It would be even nicer if tourists never had to worry about that experience the one time (or maybe not the second if they already got hit up once by Queen Anne Square).

What do panhandlers want?

In a completely unscientific study, based only on our own experiences in recent months…

Broadway Panhandlers\

What can be done?


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