THE 1930S AND PUSHCART MARKETS A Big NYC Attraction Becomes Illegal
If you were an immigrant who just arrived to New York City in the 1880s, you probably didn’t have much money to spare. But, if you had at least 10 cents, you could rent a pushcart and become a pushcart merchant and business owner. For more than 50 years, pushcart markets in New York City offered immigrants immediate access to an $828 million industry (in today’s money) that sold competitively priced goods like groceries, household items, clothing, and much more. Pushcart merchants would line up their carts along the streets of New York City and create vibrant and diverse markets that even tourists could enjoy. But not everyone in the city seemed happy about it. Although technically “merchants,” in the late 1800s and early 1900s, pushcart sellers were not described as such. Many of New York City’s middle class and wealthy residents reserved this favorable term for sellers who had brick-and-mortar stores since they did not see pushcarts as a traditional means of honest work. Instead, they saw it as a public nuisance and a source of embarrassment. Politicians, city planners, and anti- pushcart movements complained primarily about poor sanitation in the open-air markets. So, in 1938, Mayor La Guardia proclaimed in The New York Times that “peddling on the streets of this city is a thing of the past.” INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
To ease opposition, La Guardia opened indoor markets, which required pushcart sellers to apply for limited spots and pay higher fines. Upon opening the first indoor market, Mayor La Guardia proclaimed to the crowd, “I found you pushcart peddlers, and I have made you MERCHANTS!” Despite the cheers that followed, thousands of pushcart sellers lost their jobs after the final ban of open-air pushcart markets. The ban surprised the people who supported it; some brick-and-mortar stores lost as much as 60% of their business with the decrease in nearby foot traffic. New Yorkers eventually became nostalgic about pushcart markets. Once described as dirty and a “menace to the health of New York City,” people began to describe them as “fresh and attractive,” even “picturesque.”
To this day, pushcart selling is still illegal, and New York City’s licensing policies make it extremely difficult for vendors to obtain permits, leading to an underground black market of selling and buying outdoor permits. However, in the city, you’ll still find street food with hardworking vendors making their American dream a reality!
Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breast Inspired by FoodNetwork.com
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2 chicken breasts
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2 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed 2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped 4 tsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 10 large basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 365 F. 2. Cut a slit lengthwise to create a pocket in the middle of each chicken breast. Place the breasts on a baking sheet. 3. In a medium bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. 4. Divide the mixture in half and stuff each chicken breast pocket. Using toothpicks, seal the edges of the pockets. 5. Season the chicken with curry, paprika, salt, and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F. 6. Remove the toothpicks and serve with rice, potatoes, salad, or roasted vegetables! directions
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