What would the city be without street peddlers?

What kind of city would New York be if it didn’t have a long tradition as a place for pushcart peddlers and street vendors?

These sidewalk sellers have been setting up shop since the 19th century, particularly in immigrant neighborhoods—where a newcomer could get a toehold in the business world by hawking anything from oysters to pretzels to jewelry to Christmas trees from a cart, wagon, table, or truck.

This “push cart” license was issued in the 1960s by the now-nonexistent “department of markets.” Today, the license is called a general vendor license, not to be confused with the food cart vendor license or street fair vendor license.

More rules to abide by in 2019, but the same dream as 1969.

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4 Responses to “What would the city be without street peddlers?”

  1. Rob Says:

    I checked the fees for the general & food cart licence… not bad at all & free if your are a NY veteran.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I believe that after the Civil War, a great many soldiers had trouble fitting back into regular day to day life, and many ended up as vendors and peddlers. When the city began licensing vendors and peddlers, perhaps they made it free for veterans as a way to help them make a living?

  2. Tina Opines Says:

    Ever read the classic children’s book, The Pushcart Wars?

  3. Bob Says:


    “Legislation recently proposed in the state Senate would bar New York and other municipalities from capping the number of vendors that can work the sidewalks, paving the way for carts to crowd the five boroughs.”

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