Press "Enter" to skip to content

Like a bridge over…loaded with vendors; Brooklyn Bridge is chock-full o’ tourist tchotchkes

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you… . 

Actually, it’s not the Brooklyn Bridge that’s for sale — but rather reams of New York City keychains, ashtrays, caps and more, all geared toward the hordes of tourists that stream across the famed span every day.

The New York Post recently reported on how the bridge has become flooded with vendors. Their big blue shade umbrellas line the southern side of the world-renowned bridge’s pedestrian walkway. Some even sport small platforms that film 360-degree videos of people while Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” plays.

Charlie Brown keychains for sale. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)
All major credit cards accepted. (Photo by The Village Sun)

It wasn’t too long ago that the city — to give more room to pedestrians — shifted cyclists off the center pathway and onto a new protected bike lane on the bridge’s roadway. However, it now looks like vendors have simply replaced the cyclists.

On Wednesday afternoon, Joseph Moore was vending from his table not too far up the bridge’s Manhattan on-ramp. As a veteran, he is entitled to a vendor’s permit, which many of the others likely lack.

“I’m legal — I’m a veteran,” he said. “They’re trying to get rid of all the illegal vendors.”

Moore, 70, served in the military during the Vietnam War. Though he came close to seeing combat, he never did.

“I was in Korea,” he said. “One time we had loaded up to go [to Vietnam]. And I wanted to — I was young. But it’s probably better we didn’t go.”

Joseph Moore showed the back of the case of his veteran’s vendor card. He didn’t want to show the actual card, for fear it could be copied. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

As for the droves of tourists, he knows that strolling over the Brooklyn Bridge has become a bucket list item.

“It’s [called] one of the most beautiful things to do in New York,” he noted. “It’s a very serene bridge. It’s peaceful to take a walk across it.”

However, a little to the west of him, a man selling water was accompanied by the blare of a recorded voice animatedly saying, “Ice water! Ice water! One dollar! Ice-cold water! One dollar for water! Dollar water! Wada-wada-wada!”

At the same time, Moore said that farther up the bridge around its towers, where the pathway narrows, there was “food and barbecue” and that that was a bit much.

An experienced New York City vendor, Moore, who lives Uptown, said this is his first year selling on the Lower Manhattan bridge. He enjoys working there and is also familiar with the bridge’s history — how building it was difficult and dangerous and how it pioneered the use of steel-wire suspension cables.

A lieutenant and an officer from the Department of Sanitation police said Moore’s table exceeded the length guidelines because it had stuff hanging off its ends. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

As for whether the Post article had resulted in a major crackdown, Moore said not really yet.

A guy who controlled a cluster of around three vendors’ tables, including Moore’s — “I work here,” he said, vaguely — asked if The Village Sun was there to give them more problems, like the Post. Asked how business was, they both said since it was so hot on Wednesday, it was a bit slow. But at one point, the honcho fanned out a thick wad of bills — so it looked like business was doing pretty well despite the heat.

Shortly afterward, though, Moore’s mellow vending vibe was broken as a couple of Department of Sanitation police ambled by to give his table stand a once-over.

One of them, a lieutenant, pronounced, “So, we’re gonna issue a summons for oversize.”

It turned out that while Moore’s table was mostly within the regulation size — 8 feet long by 3 feet deep by 5 feet tall — he had some goods hanging off its sides that made it a bit too wide. A woman vending next to him got slapped with the same summons.

But they didn’t seem too upset. There was no fuss. It was just the cost of doing business.

The larger question, obviously, though, is can anyone legally vend on the bridge? The Sanitation police — as well as two New York Police Department officers who were standing nearby — said they could not comment on that and referred questions to the Department of Sanitation’s press office.

But Moore said the chatter among the vendors is that they’ll probably eventually be booted off the bridge.

“It’s inevitable,” he shrugged.

Meanwhile, Robert Lederman, the president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics), a pro-artist vendors’ group, said, in his opinion, vending shouldn’t be allowed at all on the bridge.

“I don’t understand why you ever let vendors there,” he said. “It’s a potentially dangerous thing. You’ve got a bridge over the middle of the river. If there’s a blockage, you can’t go anywhere. … I’m for vending anywhere — within reasonable limits.”


  1. Michael M. Michael M. September 7, 2023

    Here’s an idea: put the bicycles back on the center walkway, and stick all of the vendors in a vehicle lane. (/snark)

    The vendors need to be cleared off the bridge. Why NYPD hasn’t been tasked with doing this already is my question.

    In my estimation, any time NYDOT or DSNY is tasked with enforcement, it’s because the Mayor and his commissioners only want the *appearance* of enforcement.

    You don’t see DOT handing out parking tickets — many quite frivolous — do you?

    • Devine D Devine D September 11, 2023

      This is not your issue. Try finding ideas to improve your household.

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.