UNITED STATES NEWS

New York City evicts vendors from Brooklyn Bridge, ending a bustling tourist market to ease crowding

Jan 2, 2024, 6:12 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Scores of sellers who once peddled cheap souvenirs to tourists atop the Brooklyn Bridge were evicted Wednesday under a new city rule that prohibits vending on the famed crossing.

The ban is aimed at easing congestion on the bridge’s heavily-trafficked pedestrian walkway, which has seen a spike in both visitors and tabletop businesses offering items like New York-branded hats and keychains.

As crowds flocked to the bridge over the holiday season, the situation turned dangerous, according to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. He has pointed to videos that showed pedestrians leaping from the pedestrian promenade onto a bike lane several feet below in order to bypass a human traffic jam.

“It’s not only a sanitary issue, it’s a public safety issue,” Adams said earlier this week. “People would’ve trampled over each other. We need order in this city. That is one of our major landmarks.”

Police officers were stationed in pairs Wednesday along the mile-long span as a group of disgruntled vendors stood at the Manhattan entrance to the bridge, glumly facing their former marketplace. Along the bridge’s trusses, city employees hung signs reading: “No vending allowed.”

Kendall Otway, a 67-year-old vendor, said he began selling merchandise on the bridge last year, working with a growing group of asylum seekers who have recently arrived in New York City from Ecuador and Senegal.

“Wasn’t it the mayor who said they should come here and work?” Otway said, adding that the vendors had become “a staple of New York City now.”

But the mayor exulted in the vendors’ ouster. The Democrat and retired police captain said at a news conference Wednesday that the bridge is now “clean,” “clear” and “the symbol of what I believe the city should look like.”

The new rules prevent any “peddler, vendor, hawker, or huckster” from selling merchandise or providing a service on any of the city’s bridges or elevated walkways — though none have close to as many vendors as the 140-year-old Brooklyn Bridge.

In recent months, the number of tables on the East River crossing offering phone cases and knock-off Yankees caps had multiplied. Other entrepreneurs had set up rotating selfie platforms that allow tourists to take panoramic videos of the New York Harbor.

“The tourists liked the vendors. They always seemed to have business,” said Robert Fernandez, a Brooklyn resident who frequently walks the bridge. Still, he said it was “much easier” to cross the bridge on Wednesday without the “choke points” caused by the vendors.

Some sellers said they planned to wait a few weeks for the fuss to die down before trying to come back. Others set up tables near City Hall, across from the bridge, hoping to unload their remaining wares away from the high-profile enforcement zone.

MD Rahman, who has sold hot dogs and pretzels out of a cart on the bridge for 15 years, said he had initially planned to defy the city’s rules. But when he saw officers fanned out across the bridge, he decided not to take the risk.

Rahman said he understands the need to crack down on illicit vendors. But he criticized the ban as overly broad, since it also applies to veteran sellers, like himself, who hold mobile vending licenses.

“To punish everyone, it’s crazy. I don’t know what is going to happen to my family now,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, despite the absence of vendors, a group of pedestrians found themselves stuck in foot traffic beneath the bridge’s stone arches. The hold-up soon became clear: a line of tourists had stopped to take photographs of the “No vending” signs.

___

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

United States News

Forgiving father's killer hard for 3 children of Jordan Rasmussen...

KSL Podcasts/Amy Donaldson

A family decides to forgive a killer, but will the next generation follow?

Michael Moore killed Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth in 1982. Forgiving their father's killer was hard for Rasmussen's three children.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with gun taken into custody after standoff at FBI building in Seattle, authorities say

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman armed with a handgun was taken into custody after an hourlong standoff at the FBI building in Seattle on Wednesday, authorities said. The woman walked into a publicly accessible area where people have to wait to be buzzed into the lobby, according to FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd. She pointed the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

New York City evicts vendors from Brooklyn Bridge, ending a bustling tourist market to ease crowding