A food vendor’s Christmas on 14th Street in 1904

Ashcan school painter Everett Shinn gravitated toward New York’s underdogs: the lonely, the lost, the dreamers, and those who appear to be battered by life’s elements.

This food vendor pushing his flimsy wood cart during the holiday season appears to fall into the latter category. Painted in 1904, “Fourteenth Street at Christmas Time” gives us a blustery, snowy street crowded with Christmas tree buyers and other shoppers beside the lights from store window displays.

Our vendor, however, stands away from everyone, his body crouched to avoid the frightful weather. His cart glows with the warmth of hot food cooking…but he has no buyers.

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13 Responses to “A food vendor’s Christmas on 14th Street in 1904”

  1. boxwoodbooks Says:

    And I’ll bet the icy wind was blowing from the North.

  2. Tom B Says:

    Who has the better “street meat”, back then or now?

  3. A food vendor's Christmas on 14th Street in 1904 | Real Estate Investing Says:

    […] Source: FS – NYC Real Estate A food vendor’s Christmas on 14th Street in 1904 […]

  4. john44c56be40ee Says:

    and once again, nothing has changed

  5. Diane McAuley Says:

    Did street vendors have to get a permit to sell, and if so, are there records of these permit applications? Rumor has it that my great grandfather and great uncle had a cart, possibly in Washington Square, probably at the end of the 19th century. I would like to find out more about this and to see if it is true.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I really don’t know if vendor/peddler permits were required. Considering how many there were back then, I imagine it would be very difficult to regulate street sellers. You might want to try inquiring at the Tenement Museum or the New-York Historical Society, or the NYPL.

  6. countrypaul Says:

    I’d love some of those famous NYC “cart chestnuts” right about now….

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I thought those might be chestnuts and was trying to find out how much a bag would sell for back in 1904. Hard way to make a living I’m sure.

  7. Tommy Efreeti Says:

    My childhood memory still has vague remnants of the scent of roasting chestnuts from carts – but like so many other idiosyncratic vendors they’ve nearly vanished. It’s all halal and hotdog carts now. I miss the Hispanic ladies of my W’msburg youth who made the best grilled kebobs (with the hunk of Italian bread-crust skewered atop!). Anticuchos, would probably be the precise term – they were great, drizzled with a spicy, tangy sauce.

  8. Jackie Keys Says:

    I think that man is not stationary. He looks to be pushing the cart through heavy snow..

  9. A 1904 eviction in a New York tenement district | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] it to Everett Shinn, social realist Ashcan artist, to paint an eviction scene that gives viewers much more than just a portrait of a family thrown […]

  10. A forgotten artist and the city’s ‘terrible beauty’ | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Glenn O. Coleman’s career as a celebrated Gotham illustrator and painter was a short one. Born in Ohio in 1887, he grew up in Indiana and arrived in Manhattan in 1905 to attend the New York School of Art, studying under Robert Henri and Everett Shinn. […]

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