Posts Tagged ‘NYC street vendors’

When Essex Street was the city’s Pickle District

June 11, 2012

Everyone’s heard of the Garment District and the Financial District. But the Pickle District?

This was the name for the Lower East Side blocks centered on Essex Street, once home to 80 pickle merchants.

Some sold the briny street food from shops. Others worked out of pushcarts.

All mostly got their start in the years just before and after the turn of the 20th century, when Jewish immigrants packed the area and began selling a snack already beloved in the city.

“By 1659, Dutch farmers in New York grew cucumbers all over the area that is now known as Brooklyn,” states the New York Food Museum.

“These cucumbers were sold to dealers who cured them in barrels filled with varying flavored brines the pickles were sold in market stalls on Washington, Canal and Fulton Streets.”

Pickles are still popular, of course, but they’ve long available in supermarkets in jars. Today, only one merchant remains on Essex Street.

But the pickle gets a yearly shout-out on the Lower East Side during International Pickle Day every October.

Middle photo: Martha Cooper/Municipal Arts Society; bottom photo: NYPL Digital Collection

The street vendors who fed a growing city

January 12, 2011

Cupcake trucks, shawarma stands, dumpling carts—New York’s street grub has come a long way from the wares vendors pushed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The potatoes for sale in this 1937 photo, at left, don’t look too appetizing. But it was the height of the Great Depression, and a hot spud for a nickel may not have been such a bad deal.

The lowly hot pretzel is still a popular street eat. But at least vendors no longer have to tote them around in wicker baskets, as this man is doing in a 1900 photo.

Here’s an early hot dog merchant, taken in 1936 by Berenice Abbott. She shot it at the corner of Moore and West Streets, the Lower West Side then but Tribeca today.

There must be a lot of ice in that rickety gizmo to keep the lemonade cold all day.