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AFTER POLICE ACTION, BOOK VENDORS ARE SUDDENLY GONE FROM BROADWAY (UPDATED)

BOOKS bway
The area where the book vendors usually set up their stands. Photo by a tipster who wishes to remain anonymous.

The book vendors who normally set up stands on Broadway between 72nd and 74th Streets were nowhere to be found this week. Police have removed the books, a 20th precinct official told us, but we’re still gathering details on what precipitated the move. “The unattended property was removed and safeguarded,” the official told us.

“Since returning to work on Tuesday (I work on this block) I noticed that a substantial portion of the books kept overnight were gone,” one tipster told us. “A police car was parked on the block all day. The owner of the books did come to his usual seat late in the afternoon. That was the last time we saw him this week. Today [Thursday], all the books are gone from the entire stretch of the block and the cop car is replaced with a cop van.”

“We saw a police vehicle there hosing down the spots on the sidewalk at about 8:30 a.m. with only shadows/stains where the tables used to be,” another tipster wrote Thursday morning. “Just curious how someone got this done after years of loitering.”

The 20th precinct has fielded complaints about the book-sellers for years — some locals say the men harass them and take up too much space — but the police have said at public meetings that they are protected under the First Amendment. Some vendors had briefly been shut down last fall, but they came back.

City Council member Helen Rosenthal had previously said she was looking for a way to get the vendors banned from that stretch of Broadway.

Update: A spokesperson for Rosenthal sent us a statement: “I’m thrilled the Administration took action to remove these vendors, who unlawfully stored their items (including books) overnight and unattended– practically using the sidewalk as their private storage space for years.”

After a follow-up question, her spokesperson did not explain what she meant by “administration.”

NEWS | 166 comments | permalink
    1. Diego says:

      This is ridiculous

      • Miles Wilson says:

        Ridiculous that it has taken this long!
        These dirt bags were a nuisance for the past twenty years that I have lived on 73rd street.Thank God for the 20th precinct because Helen Rosenthal was not going to do anything.

        • Stuart says:

          What about the sellers between 73rd and 74th? How many years will it take before that block is cleaned up?

    2. Relieved UWSer says:

      This is long overdue. They were selling goods without a license and blocking egress along Broadway– potential fire danger from this alone more than offsets any (likely phony) concern re: First Amendment Rights. Not sure who to thank for this

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “… and blocking egress along Broadway– potential fire danger from this alone”

        To re-apply Diego’s above comment, “This IS ridiculous” !

        Considering that the booksellers were only at the curb (kerb?) HOW, pray tell, were they blocking egress along the sidewalk?

        And how could there be a “fire danger” on an open and unenclosed street ?

        And, one more “and”, the “egress” problem could EASILY be solved by hanging on a street tree a 2016 version of famed American huckster (NO, not Trump) P.T. Barnum’s legendary “This Way To the Egress” sign!

      • New UWS Resident says:

        Fire danger? Seriously? Somebody’s been reading too much Fahrenheit 451.

    3. Susan says:

      this is a violation of the first amendment!!

      • JDP says:

        How? This is commerce, not speech. The right to assembly maybe, but then selling goods is not like that at all.

        • dannyboy says:

          Bookselling and Newspapers ARE protected. Now about that Commerce not being Free Speech issue..ok with Citizens United?

        • Sarah says:

          Street vendors selling expressive materials like art or books are covered by the First Amendment. Bery v. New York, 97 F.3d 689 (2d Cir. 1996). It’s not that hard to understand why; imagine a person selling a political pamphlet in the streets being forced to have a license.

          • Scott says:

            You’re right, these guys should have the full protection of the First Amendment to sell copies of “Windows 95: A How To Guide.” Where would we be without these brave stalwarts of free speech?

      • Barton N. says:

        Don’t be silly Susan. You don’t understand what you are talking about. These “first amendment practitioners” that you speak of were nothing but vendors of books who were exploiting the lack of enforcement and the impossibility to get anything done in NYC. The 1st amendment issue that you brought up does not allow people to PARK THEIR STANDS OVERNIGHT COVERED IN PLASTIC. IT DOES NOT ALLOW FOR UNMANNED TABLES. IT DOES NOT ALLOW TABLES TO BE POSITIONED WHERE THESE TABLES WERE. FURTHERMORE, THE LAW SUSAN RELATES TO FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, NOT A RIGHT TO SELL GOODS ON THE STREET! These guys had prime NYC real estate FOR FREE for 20 years simply because this city is pathetic and you can just about do anything you want, including, now that Deblasio is mayor, laying down in front of PS199 in the morning with a 6 pack of beer (Yes, saw this twice last summer). Nobody called on the bum because why bother? NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN!

        So, this is great news. Maybe a step in the right direction for our city. Let’s clean it up like its our home, that is what I say. The sad part of all this is that I think this happened ONLY because of the fancy store that opened opposite of these vendors. Somebody has connections indeed! Because NYC is too pathetic to actually have remedied (i.e., enforced the law) this problem simply because it was a violation of the law and should not have been allowed. No, in NYC, someone had to get greased in order to get anyone in this feckless lazy city government to do anything and I’ll bet that is exactly what happened.

        Want to get a picture of what the government in this city is about and how lazy and sad a good portion of the people who work in it are? Go down to the courts and try to get a birth or marriage certificate.

    4. Lorraine Varjabedian says:

      I hate nothing more than narrow, crowded sidewalks and anything that makes them narrower or crowdeder 😉 but how is this a thing? I’m really not understanding why these booksellers are a big deal. I’ve never witnessed any harassment.

      • Mark says:

        I’m glad you never witnessed any harassment. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. In fact I witnessed it many times and have been on the receiving end of nasty comments and thrown garbage from these guys for the simple reason that I dared walk by them.
        They also stored their books and stuff overnight on the sidewalk.
        Good riddance and hope they never are allowed back.

        • Independent says:

          I’m glad you and others are speaking-out.

          No one should be intimidated by the self-righteous scolds who stand ever at the ready to pounce upon dissenters, thereby signaling and reinforcing their own sense of moral and cultural superiority.

        • Mark says:

          $5 you did more than just walk by to receive any attention at all by the book vendors. They bothered no one as long as you minded your business. I call bull.

      • Sun says:

        Exactly. You want to talk about overcrowded sidewalks? Let’s talk about sprawling outdoor cafe licensees that leave no more than four feey for foot traffic in both directions. Community Board 7 rubberstamps the requests for these licenses and it doesn’t ever even know the actual parameters of the cafe and the sidewalk. Shameless commerce at the expense of the public good.

    5. Big Earl says:

      Good riddance. Sidewalk looks fantastic. Maybe the booksellers can set up next to the Fresh Direct trucks and be even more of a nuisance.

    6. Jeff says:

      I went down tonight and talked with the cop who’s posted where the books used to be, here’s what he said:

      They responded to complaints about the bookseller and his pals causing commotion, drinking, relieving themselves in public, etc. The legal basis for the removal was that it’s really just one guy operating all the book tables, and you’re only allowed to have one table per person.

      The books will be returned to the proprietor and he can come back, but only with one table. It’s possible he could bring friends and claim they’re operating additional tables, at which time the cops will be on the lookout for whether that’s really the case.

    7. Edie G. says:

      Not for long. Shame on the city council and the police. The whole world is watching. Quality of life complainers are nothing but a bunch of wet blankets.

      • Denaliboy says:

        You’ve got be kidding. Aside from an eyesore they block a chunk of the sidewalk and are often rude. If they return they should not be allowed to store their products overnight. Let them set up their crap every day-see how long they will be around. I guess I’m a wet blanket-I don’t like the outdoor cafes that are in violation of ordinances (about 70% based on my measurements), the bikes that disregard traffic lights/stop signs, the homeless that hassle people on the streets, etc. Call me crazy

      • GP says:

        i really can’t stand you holy rollers criticizing us who want to have a clean and organized city. You probably keep your apartment a mess too or maybe you have the city subsidize your apartment and don’t really care that much about your surrounding. Who knows. All that I do know is that this city should be clean, rules enforced, laws enforced, and be a lovely city to live in. You want garbage and grown men sitting in broken chairs on the sidewalk listening to loud music, then go away. We will not miss you.

    8. Eric says:

      Finally… I always avoided this stretch for safety concerns

    9. Ron Kapon says:

      I served on the 20PCT Community Council for 25 years and was its president for 5 years. The number one complaint in those 25 years was the book sellers, especially one in particular. I have no problem with the First Amendment & the right to sell books. Those who are in favor of the booksellers should come to a council meeting in the fall(none during the summer)& listen to all the complaints. Parents & their children were harassed as they walked to & from school. Open containers of beverages; garbage left everywhere. Leaving them unattended overnight is against the law. If the 20PCT allowed that rule to be broken then why not allow everyone in the area to cancel their storage units & put their belongings on the street and covered. It saves them money.
      The 20PCT is the best in the city. We live in the safest precinct in NYC. Thank you Capt Levon Holley.

      • Mark says:

        Open containers? Really? Do you have nothing else to complain about? If I ever met someone who complained about an average person enjoying a beer outside I’d give them a piece of my mind. Mind your business and leave people alone. Enough with the nagging.

        • Independent says:

          NB: The “Website” field is for entering a personal web site if one so wishes. The field is entirely optional and should simply be left blank if one does not have or does not wish to share a personal web site. Entering the URL of this web site, westsiderag.com or a URL such as “yahoo.com” or “aol.com” only teases readers.

        • GR says:

          If you want people to sit around our sidewalks with open containers, then go find such a place. I can only imagine that people who don’t mind guys sitting on sidewalks having beers don’t have jobs, a family, or really anything that i consider of value. we have places to drink beers and if that’s not enough for you, leave the city. those of you who think the city should be a gritty dirty place should just leave it. you should all share a building together, that would be a hoot.

    10. dannyboy says:

      Over Independence Day weekend?

      • WestSide_Mimi says:

        I’m glad to see that entrepreneurialism is alive and well on the upper west side. These folks do not pay taxes and park their wares rent free. They are also a sore sight eating and drinking as if the streets are their private living rooms. It has gotten worse and worse with rows of books blocking pedestrians from doing their shopping on Broadway.This is an abuse of freedom not independence.

        • dannyboy says:

          Someone’s stealing your Freedoms? Misdirected, perhaps?

          Or go ahead and fight the divisive fight. That should go somewhere.

    11. Jimbo says:

      WHAT A NICE SITE—-THANK YOU NYPD……

    12. Woody says:

      Whenever I hear the regurgitated whining about this being a violation of the 1st Amendment, I’m reminded that I live in a neighborhood of a bunch of phonies just waiting to be offended. How could anyone in their right mind NOT prefer to have clean, unfettered, and open sidewalks? The kvetches have some romantic notion that these are comparable to quaint bookstalls along the Seine. They couldn’t care less about the 1st Amendment. But I’m sure they complain plenty about the 2nd Amendment. Cherry picking at its finest.

    13. UWSHebrew says:

      Hope it stays this way. Sidewalks are for people to walk on.

      • Sun says:

        Except the outdoor cafes usually hog so much space that there really isn’t much space for people to walk on.

        • Sean says:

          But a cafe is so Parisian is it not? And you can now sit there with your dog. This is a win win.

        • Msd says:

          The owners of the cafes with outdoor spaces at least pay taxes. These “booksellers” were using public spaces for private profit. Do you think they paid taxes on book sales they made?

    14. Harriet says:

      Has anyone commented on the fact that, in the 30 years I have lived 2 blocks from here, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a book sale actually take place. This is just a place for a group of people to hang out. I’m all for the First Amendment, one person with one table, REMOVED EACH NIGHT. (That’s the law.) The people with the Bible message in Verdi Park do that. They follow the law. They put out their literature in the daytime and remove it every night. I’d be totally in favor of booksellers who follow the law. But not the drinking lounge it has become.

    15. the_the says:

      Finally. I have no problem with book sellers but these guys kept their junk on the street 24x7x365 sticking out 8ft or more from the sidewalk at the curb side and their chairs set up on the building side.
      Even though I live west of Broadway, I did my best to avoid walking on that side of the street.

      Thank you NYPD.

    16. josh says:

      First, they do not need a license (or at least the last time I looked at the law). The NY law requiring vendors to obtain a license exempts sellers of printed matter. In fact sellers of art (who were not exempt) sued the City on 1st Amendment grounds (the Berry v. NY case from 1998 or so) and won. So I am sure the sellers of books/magazines/newspapers would win on constitutional grounds. HOWEVER, the first amendment does not protect them from leaving their table wrapped in disgusting plastic tarps overnight. That is how they police are able to confiscate. And I agree. I don’t mind the sellers — its actually nice how in many European cities you have areas where book sellers set up during the day. But having them left unattended, wrapped in plastic, “protected” by street folks is a blight on the neighborhood, and should be disallowed. No question.

    17. Peter says:

      FINALLY!

      Between street vendors, dog shit every 10 yards, trash along half the block, homeless people everywhere, sidewalk after sidewalk in need of repair, noise pollution at insane levels,… walking around NYC has felt more like walking around Dakar lately.

      • Upper West Side Wally says:

        How would you know? With all these complaints you certainly have moved out of the city/tri-state area?

      • dannyboy says:

        Ever consider moving?

      • Sean says:

        Why can’t building owners hose down these sidewalks and use scrub brushes too? You know like they do in Brussels. They should also require this of their commercial tenants. This is the 21st Century. There are power hoses.

      • Independent says:

        Your sentiments are welcome to see expressed. Don’t be intimidated by the sanctimonious scolds.

    18. Janine Serual says:

      It is nice to get our sidewalks back. Last time I checked they were meant for walking, not for setting up stores.

    19. Sherman says:

      I’m glad these dudes are gone. Their tables were grimy and an eyesore and a blight.

    20. Ellen says:

      Freedom from harassment…it’s about time. Hope it stays this way. I live here and go out of my way to avoid them so they won’t bother me when I walk by.

    21. Trevor says:

      The booksellers were the best part of this area. Too bad the new folks move into the neighborhood when they don’t really like how the neighborhood is.

    22. Bob says:

      always felt that particular book set up area was a little seedy and unwelcoming. fine with it being gone. my homie on 67th though… he’s the man and should be left alone. Although they do take all his stuff from time to time and he starts from scratch.

    23. anon says:

      Such good news. I’m been on the receiving end of some offensive and lewd comments from those “sellers” and wondered for a long time why they were allowed free overnight storage on the sidewalk. Good work 20th Precinct!

    24. west side walking says:

      Book sellers are a nuisance and a hazard? And worthy of “police crack down” and removal.

      Not that there is no problem. But what is really going on? Most stores have trash, items to take in or out of the stores. Is this possibly a response to real estate interests?

      Selling books on the street or newspapers in vending machines are protected through the first amendment.

      We can’t keep businesses from being priced out of existence. But we can put our police in the service of getting rid of street vendors.

      What is going on?

      • Eric says:

        No one really has an issue with the selling of books. What we all have an issue with is stuff being stored there 24/7, the 8 feet of sidewalk that is permanently blocked, the eating/ drinking/ yelling/music, the catcalling of women and the fact that a lot of the junk they sell isn’t even books. This really doesn’t need to be tied into a 1st Amendment issue.

        • Edie G. says:

          ” eating/ drinking/ yelling/music” And you’re complaining? Sounds like a good time. Property values and quality of life complaints? Is this New York City or Chappaqua? Mind your business and leave people on the street alone.

      • Sean says:

        In the suburbs it is called property values. All those containers dispensing bogus reading material are an eyesore. Who needs it?

    25. nycityny says:

      Amazing how even liberal Upper West Siders can’t agree on whether this is good or bad. And there doesn’t seem to be a grey area – comments here are emphatic on each side. No wonder our politics are so divisive.

      Perhaps the answer to this situation is Kindle. 🙂

    26. EricL says:

      Finally. I’ve lived two blocks away for 15 years and pass this block several times a day. These “booksellers” acted more like homeless men selling books, records, videos and magazines (some porn), paintings, etc. that looked like they were pulled from the trash. I’ve experienced first-hand how they play their radios/music incredibly loud, curse, yell, sleep, eat, leave garbage, relive themselves in public, and keep their tables outside — and many times unattended — 24/7/365. I’m all for the First Amendment correctly applied, but this is not that.

    27. jezbel says:

      I never had a problem with any of the vendors (and I use the term loosely). But I’m so happy to have our sidewalk back again. It fells great walking down that busy stretch of sidewalk at 72nd Street and not have to cram together to pass the strollers, the bookstands and the people loitering. Yay! Thanks to the 2-0 Precinct.

    28. Tania says:

      It’s about time – thank you 20th precinct! I have lived at 73rd and Broadway for 17 years and have seen this nuisance grow over the years. I have personally been harassed several times by these folks and do not enjoy their loud music and gatherings. I am a very conscientious dog owner , and it’s impissible to curb your dog when several blocks are lined with tables and items. They are not a contribution to the neighborhood – quite the opposite. I hope this sticks.

    29. Derek says:

      Give me a break, those book sellers didn’t harass anyone at all. I’ve gotten loads of interesting and out-of-print books there over the the years and records too. I’d take the book stands over the double and triple wide strollers that take up half the sidewalks on the UWS any day!

      • Christine E says:

        The double wide stroller only takes up half of the remaining sidewalk, after the bookseller illegally takes at least 8 feet, plus another 2-3 feet by sitting on the opposite side. So you should be happy, you have room now.

        • Sun says:

          Your dimensions are off. The eight feet is length. The width of those tables is more like 3 feet, 4 max.

      • Cat@lynn says:

        Derek, I assume you’re a male. Someone else here politely referred to the ‘cat calling,’ of females by these vendors, but it’s always vulgar and threatening. More that once they’ve physically rushed me when I tried to get out of a cab on that corner and accused me of knocking over their books when I hadn’t come within 10 feet of them. Even the cabbies told me to stay in the car while they pulled around to the bus stop on 72nd.

        As for strollers, I’ve witnessed the woman in the double wide wheelchair intentionally blocking the ramp on the corner of 73rd to prevent nannies from getting up on the sidewalk with their strollers which left them standing in oncoming traffic. I walk to/from Citarella/Fresh Direct at least 4 times a week and I’ve experienced nothing BUT hostile behavior from these people.

        Thanks for the photo WSR, it’s the first time IN MY LIFETIME that I’ve seen that block free and clear and CLEAN!

      • Mark says:

        Derek – you observed them 24/7?

    30. Mia says:

      Now if we can get Helen Rosenthal to help get rid of all the panhandlers. Especially the rotating group at Broadway and 64 who use that poor dog to bilk tourists everyday. There are at least 3 separate people who rotate at that spot. They sit and read books all day and refuse help from city services over and over. That poor dog has to lie in the heat all day. They eat up the time of the outreach group that has to respond to calls and this further dilutes the available help the homeless who are in true need. And their success has emboldened others to find a perch and set up shop with a little cardboard sign.

      • ls says:

        There are a number of homeless people from outside of NYC, these included, who tend to come to NYC once the weather is favorable. They are mostly young and travel from place to place – not just NYC, but SF, Austin and other places. (Some refer to them as “crusties” or “travelers”)

        For years they would come to NYC and hang out in the East Village – but around 2010 they discovered the UWS.

      • lynn says:

        Mia, this group of kids isn’t technically homeless and they’re part of a far larger group that coordinate with iPhones. Imagine my shock after helping them with food and tickets ‘home,’ to find them just a few blocks away from their original set up on 72nd and Broadway. Same dog, same sign, additional kids, and they’re still camping out at the same church where they were 3 years ago.

        I walked up to the young man that I thought I’d sent ‘home’ to his wife and new baby in Ohio, and he’d apparently been given a new script because he had no idea where Akron was and he clearly became agitated when I started asking questions.

        There was another young man who sat outside of Duane Reade last year who said his mother had died and he was thrown out of her apartment by the management. Everyone in the neighborhood was giving him food and offering help. The problem is that when help was offered help he just wanted money to get through another day. I haven’t seen him since last year and now there’s a young blond girl in his spot. I always wonder what happened to him and if the circumstances were real or if he was just part of the group.

        It’s very frustrating because I know there are kids out there who truly need help but now I’m hesitant to speak to any of them.

        • SA says:

          Oh boy are you naive. (In a very endearing way.) Rule Number One about panhandlers with a story about needing to go somewhere. It’s virtually NEVER true. If you want to put my thesis to the test, offer to take them to the station, buy them a ticket, and see them off. I’ve done so many times in my life, and once in a very blue moon someone will take me up on it. The other 99% of the time you’ll get a puzzled look followed by a “Can’t you just give me the money?”

      • with all the craziness in the world and you're concerned about book vendors - PLEASE! says:

        and get rid of all the cyclists who zoom up and down the sidewalks and pay no attention to pedestrians and get rid of all the traffic violators who would sooner run over you than yield and to get rid of all the strollers and get rid of all the elderly who walk slowly and slow YOU down ……

    31. Sean says:

      Broadway should be pristine like Park Avenue.

      • dannyboy says:

        Interesting how people prefer another neighborhood, choose to live here, and then complain that this is not the neighborhood that they preferred.

        • Mark says:

          dannyboy – if you don’t like the fact that the booksellers are gone you should move to a neighborhood where they exist.

          • Mark says:

            They exist in this neighborhood, this is our hood not yours. We won’t stand for quality of life enforcement, this country is changing its tone about policing and the broken windows theory. Get with the times.

          • dannyboy says:

            Mark, I don’t have an opinion on the matter of these booksellers staying or leaving. My comment was that people repeatedly Comment that this neighborhood should be like some different neighborhood. My suggestion is that the other neighborhood also has apartment living, so why not go for it rather than be miserable that this neighborhood is not that like neighborhood.

            Now, to your suggestion that I move because you have misinterpreted my Comment: I concur with Mark (just above) – this is not your hood to issue your dictates.
            Now that I have spelled it out I hope that you no longer misunderstand my Comment.

            • Jay says:

              You don’t get to dictate what this neighborhood is either, danny.

              The book-sellers were breaking the law. No need to discuss further. If they want to follow the law they are welcome back.

            • dannyboy says:

              “No need to discuss further.” – Jay

              Most interesting discussion comment, ever.

    32. Also Anonymous says:

      I wonder if the booksellers collected sales tax and paid it to taxing authorities as they are required to do under NYS and NYC law.

      • nycityny says:

        Well, if they didn’t then their purchasers are required to report the associated “use tax” on their income tax returns. How many “law-abiding” Upper West Siders do you think do that?

        • Kibbitser says:

          I believe the use tax applies only to items purchased elsewhere and brought into New York State.

    33. Independent says:

      1.) Imagine if every sidewalk in the city were filled with book vendors peddling their wares. Obviously, the First Amendment does not guarantee an unlimited, unqualified right to sell or distribute printed matter anywhere one may wish to do so.

      2.) How many, of the people here defending the book vendors on First Amendment grounds, would be doing the same if they had been specifically promoting material that advanced views that said defenders found offensive or unacceptable? If, for example, someone had been handing-out pro-Trump literature {gasp!}…

      3.) Many people, both here and in past threads, have told of experiencing or witnessing inconsiderate and even harassing behavior on the part of at least some of the vendors-in-question.

      4.) Of the people now defending the book vendors (and often attacking those who dare to applaud their exile), how many would do so if they had been harassed or unduly imposed-upon by said vendors?

      • Yay Jimmy says:

        I defend the book vendors on the grounds that rent is too damn high.

      • dannyboy says:

        Again, you lost me at #1:
        “1.) Imagine if every sidewalk in the city were filled with book vendors peddling their wares. Obviously, the First Amendment does not guarantee an unlimited, unqualified right to sell or distribute printed matter anywhere one may wish to do so.”

        The test of our freedoms is NOT the capacity for EVERYONE to do the same thing. You must know that.

    34. Allison says:

      For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been thrilled to see book sellers on the street. When I moved to the UWS last year, I was again thrilled to see these guys on Bway. I had never had a bad experience, always took a quick peek, purchased when I saw something that caught my eye or thanked the men and walked away when I didn’t. I actually even encouraged the business by trading or donating my own used books with them! I loved the idea of a literary neighborhood. Because of all this, I’m dumbfounded by all the negative experiences people have had with them! Most especially the fact that they’ve harassed people. For this latter reason, then absolutely they needed to go. I am bummed though…

    35. jeremy says:

      I have purchased many, many books from these vendors. I will truly miss them. Not everything in NYC has to be a Starbucks, or a bank, or a nail salon. Maybe there can be a bit of NYC regulation on the vendors, but the UWS does not have to look like the equivalent of an upscale shopping mall, only on city streets.

    36. Bsd says:

      Thank you! Why should they get free real estate and pay no taxes…and take away business from bookstores? Wish authorities would do their job more often.

    37. Sean says:

      FYI: these booksellers are not to be considered mom and pop shops or buying local. They were a blight on our very existence.

      • Woody says:

        No disagreement that they were a blight and should have been removed a long time ago.

        But in a convoluted way, I could argue than no one is more local than a neighborhood homeless person. I doubt many of the owners of the mom-and-pop shops actually live in the immediate area.

    38. Jeff says:

      I’ll bet a pretty penny that none of those booksellers or their employees were paying taxes. The First Amendment,l Naziscare out of their minds because reasonable time and place restrictions apply to even the exercise of our Constitutional rights. If the NYCLU or ACLU challenges this reasonable police action, I propose a fund be established to pay a homeless man to stand outside the home of their officers calling them stupid assholes because that would be true and correct exercise of our rights under the First Amendment.

      • dannyboy says:

        “l Naziscare out of their minds” – Jeff
        “I propose a fund be established to pay a homeless man to stand outside the home of their officers calling them stupid assholes”

        This is a community blog. Think

    39. New UWS Resident says:

      Ah, yes. All of the actual crime going on in the world but let’s crack down on the BOOK guy.

    40. Sean says:

      There are now free charging stations on the street for our devices. Who needs books when you can have a Nook or Kindle app right there on your phone?

      • June says:

        Free charging stations courtesy of giant electronic advertising which we already fought against. I do not appreciate the city selling my eyes without my permission or my vote. You can keep your kindles and your charging stations.

      • dannyboy says:

        Kindles, again?

    41. Sue says:

      Selling more than books people!

    42. Sean says:

      I believe that all the books sold were highly curated and locally resourced.

      • dannyboy says:

        Artisanal, too?

      • EricL says:

        If “highly curated and locally resourced” means homeless men taking records, books, magazines and videos — including porn — out of the garbage or trash bin and then piling them up, then I guess they were!

        • lynn says:

          Hahahahaaa! I think Sean’s comment was purely sarcasm. If there was a search function available I would gladly compile a curated collection of all of his comments here. 😉

          • dannyboy says:

            lynn, thank you for using the word “curated” properly. And, yes there is a google search function on the WSR homepage. Start curating!

        • dannyboy says:

          I finally get a definition of “highly curated” that I can use to better understand Cedra Pharmacy and Turnstyle, among other new additions to the hood. I guess we have the same things at a higher price.

        • Independent says:

          “Porn”? Who is to say that what you characterized as such was not, in fact, erotica?

          The difference? More often than not, it boils-down to who is making the determination– much like for the difference between “terrorist” and “freedom fighter”; “education” vs. “indoctrination”; “open-minded” vs. naive and gullible; “righteous indignation” vs. “hateful anger”, and many similar distinctions, all highly subjective and relative.

    43. Pumpkinpie says:

      I’ve lived in the neighborhood since 1971. I pass where the book sellers were almost every day coming and going from the 72nd St. Subway station or en route to Fairway. For starters, the term “booksellers” is a bit inaccurate. Yes, there were books but also bins of old LPs, CDs, plus framed posters, lamps, vases, ashtrays, all sorts of used, second-hand tchotchkes which, frankly, looked like they had emigrated from a flea market or someone’s garbage. Please don’t romanticize those tables as if they were some quaint and charming Parisian bookseller along the Seine. A lot of it, including many of the books was junk. The (dirty) tarp-covered tables were left on the sidewalks day and night. One proprietor in particular was always cursing at bystanders and looked and acted like he was off his meds (spitting at people). Not exactly a candidate for Upper West Side Better Business Person of the Year, or good advertising for the neighborhood. I’m glad the 20th Precinct took this long overdue action. PS: There was a fruit and vegetable vendor cart there this morning where one of the book tables used to be.

    44. Benet says:

      Were the booksellers ever checked to see if they collect sales tax and remit it to the state? Did anyone ever check to see if the booksellers filed and paid any income tax on the income from the sale of books and other “stuff” they sold????????????

    45. uwsresident says:

      FINALLY!
      Thank God the 20th precinct removed these dirt bags. If we had waited for Helen Rosenthal to actually do something we would still be waiting.On multiple occasions I have been harassed while walking with my children. In recent months it has gotten even worse including an incident I was involved in just a few weeks ago when one of these guys followed me halfway down the street. Let me just say he wasn’t hawking me to buy a copy of Moby-Dick. I have lived on the block where most of the tables are set up for close to twenty years. I honestly have never actually seen one book sold.First amendment rights? How about paying taxes or rent? I have owned a small business on the UWS for several years and I would have loved never to pay rent or taxes. Ha, please!

    46. Frustrated with ignorant people says:

      This is so sad and ridiculous!… Especially in light of recent events 🙁 This is what happens when people who are privileged have too much control and probably have nothing else better to do. These people are simply trying to make a living. And in re: the the ‘fire danger’ if you ask me the block that Fairway is on is ALWAYS so much more crowded & has more of the sidewalk blocked than the one occupied by the vendors… But no one is complaining about that are they?!?! So if you want to complain about a potential Fire hazard in the area you should look 1 block north genius…Talk about a phony excuse.

      • Sean says:

        Fairway has never ever been a good neighbor. However that is another story. Your sympathy is misplaced. The bookseller were a blight.

      • freespirit101 says:

        How can you equate this with recent events? It’s ignorant people like you that incite more divisiveness. This is strictly about an illegal book,magazine, vhs seller who does not pay rent or taxes and harasses half the neighborhood. What do you even mean by privileged? I certainly don’t consider myself privileged but I still will not accept it as normal that someone on a daily basis makes it difficult to walk down a street with my children. You apparently probably don’t live in the vicinity or for some odd reason have not had any issues with these guys like 90% of the neighborhood.

      • Kev says:

        Men should be allowed to do what women are describing as harassing and intimidating and outright frightening. That’s what you’re saying.

    47. zeus says:

      First amendment my ars.
      These guys were a menace to pedestrians.
      Most were rude and dirty.
      You want to sell the stuff, join a flea market, but don’t use our sidewalks to
      litter your garbage.

    48. chris says:

      Very happy these guys are gone. Blight on the neighborhood. Glad the police finally dealt with it appropriately as Helen Rosenthal was never going to bother. That stretch is so more pleasant to walk down now. Good riddance.

    49. JamesT says:

      I always liked browsing the wares. Instead of living breathing humans and reading material we get electronic billboards shoved in our faces. Let the truth be known, the cops didn’t get rid of the booksellers because of UWS complaints. If that were the case they would have gone a long time ago. No the real reason they had to go is because they interfere with the LinkNYC stonehenge-size marketing platforms. It is always a corporate or “business” agenda in this town. It is never about people. Try putting electronic billboards on streets in the suburbs and see what would happen. Here–people are sheep and miss the real agenda.

      • Kev says:

        There are booksellers along other stretches on Broadway whom the police are not shutting down, presumably because they’re not bothering people. I love to buy books from them and chat and meet my neighbors. I’m not against booksellers on the sidewalk. I’m against shantytowns with aggressive sellers taking up more and more of the already limited sidewalk.

        • Sean says:

          Yes there are and those up near Columbia are a different lot than these in dispute. Their tables are spotless and definitely manned by caring sellers.

        • Doug says:

          I am all for vendors selling books in a respectful manner, but these folks were far from it. I once saw one of them engage in a shouting match with someone walking by. It was so bad, the police were called in. It came to the point that I felt unsafe walking down this stretch and have mostly avoided it completely.

      • Independent says:

        1.) Many comments voiced what I have no reason to believe were anything less-than wholly legitimate complaints and grievances against the “book vendors”.

        2.) As to your allegation that LinkNYC corporate interests were behind the exiling of the “book vendors”, do you have any evidence you could cite?

        3.) Your larger points, about corporate tyranny in general and the insidious nature of at least much of advertising, are certainly most valid.

        • dannyboy says:

          Bloomingdales

          • Lyri Clark says:

            That’s right!! It took Bloomingdales to free up our sidewalk. So thank you. Even though it’s a tacky store….they helped the
            neighborhood. I’m so glad..what a pleasure to be rid of the dirty tarps and the screaming guys (particularly the one off his meds) and to be able to walk on a clean sidewalk in peace. Re: the homeless kid cult…yes they are from out of town and yes they are all frauds. It’s a wandering cult of kids and dogs (Dickens-anyone…) they invaded the uws and found us gullible and naive. Don’t give them anything please! Those poor sad dogs …out in the heat all day…too hungry to move. Vile. I’d like to know the mastermind behind this group. Maybe they’ll go public like Fairway ..they surely have expanded over the past year. Meanwhile, does anyone REALLY know how we got rid of the book vendors?? After maybe 20 years..suddenly they’re GONE. Who did it and how? Can this magic possibly bring back the M104 so we can get to Grand Central again? Wouldn’t that be nice…..

            • dannyboy says:

              “Meanwhile, does anyone REALLY know how we got rid of the book vendors?? After maybe 20 years..suddenly they’re GONE.” – Lyri Clark

              The rent increases for commercial property make it impossible for bookstores to continue. This is the neighborhood being created now.

    50. Sender says:

      I have mixed feelings. I did buy from them and sometimes got good deals.

      On the other hand, that stretch of Broadway is so much cleaner and more peaceful without them, and there’s more room to walk.

      They never harassed anyone that I saw. It wouldn’t have been good for business.

      I’m not sure that Bery v. City of NY controls here. That case involved artists who were selling their own work. The court emphasized that the act of selling their work in public was part of the artists’ self-expression. In any case, the court said that narrowly tailored regulations to keep streets clear would be allowed.

      I’m guessing that this action is related to the crackdown on entertainers in Times Square. The legal issues are similar, so why not kill two birds with one stone?

      • Sean says:

        Maybe we should welcome Des Nudas to the UWS? They could stand outside that bake shop that all the tourists go to.

        • UWSSurfer says:

          Do you mean Levain? Their hot cookies are delicious! Their clientele is not just tourists. They are moving to a larger space.

      • dannyboy says:

        “The legal issues are similar, so why not kill…”

        Because it’s a very slippery slope to take?

    51. Sean says:

      Re: Concierge Services
      https://youtu.be/aL6mTMShVyk

    52. madrasmusik says:

      People can complain all they want about the quality/quantity of the books/items sold, or the appearancce/demeanor of the sellers. The simple fact is that the LAW stipulates that all materials (books/displays/tables/tarps) MUST be removed from the sidewalk on a nightly basis. This NEVER happened. The LAW has been clearly violated and ignores. Repeatedly, and until now, without consequence. All I can say is, what took so long??

    53. MIsh says:

      Best news in years! Some believe it’s charming to have the resellers on this block, to them I say have them perch outside your expensive apartment and see how much you enjoy them. I promise you won’t enjoy them. They urniate and deficate on the sidewalk, they fight in the overnight hours and bring an unsafe and filthy element to a pretty safe area.

    54. Liz says:

      There were just so many of these tables on Broadway.

      It was a real eyesore.

      Can’t say I’m sorry they are gone. They never had the class and style of the book vendors along the Park on Fifth Avenue.

    55. UWSSurfer says:

      If you have never seen a book buyer making a purchase or the display of beautiful art, theater, travel,and opera books for sale, you have have blinders on.

      Kirk has been here 17 yrs. He will be back.
      Count on it. The taxpayers pay for this back and forth hauling and delivery plus compensation. You, in effect, are buying his books but not taking the books home.

      There’s a book I want to buy that is now being held hostage at a police storage locker. My neighbor was just about to buy an art book.

      I spoke to Officer P. who was parked outside Chase all day with red lights flashing. He was nice and said his presence had nothing to do with the book vendors. The books were already gone, carted off in the cover of night.

      Everyone knows that the troublemakers are the pair on Broadway at w. 72nd.

      I believe that this latest rousting comes from Saks’ imminent move into the old Loehmann’s space.

      Two very soft-spoken book sellers in front of the Ansonia were caught in the snare. Such a shame.

      Our neighborhood is disappearing. We are rapidly becoming the graceless, ugly concrete boxes of mid-town.

      Instead of serving the neighborhood residents, the 2-block stretch of Broadway across from Verdi Park is now just another shopping travel package destination for foreign tourists or hedgefund molls: Century 21<Bloomingdale's Annex<Saks Outlet.

      I went into Bloomingdales Annex and saw choices of Fendi sandals marked down to $500 from $800, sunglasses on sale for $100,
      and a $300 skirt.

      For $5, i could buy sunglasses from the purse vendor by Citerella, a beautiful
      coffee table book of gardens from Kirk,
      or give it to the woman in the wheelchair who
      is missing a leg (someone complained about her upstream in the comments).

      I've never been frightened by the book sellers.

      Sounds like we have a lot of nervous nellies and complainers.

      Support our small businesses that are being run out of town by high rent and taxes.

      I don't want to lose Cafe Margot like I have lost 2 pizza places and countless small shops.

      The blight is not the book sellers but the empty storefronts on Broadway north of W. 72nd St. No doubt they will someday be filled by a Starbucks, bank, nail salon, or Duane Reade.

      Viva the Upper Westside!
      Give peace a chance.

      Work with the vendors for a solution that
      improves the look of their spaces.

      • Sean says:

        This 2 block stretch would be ideal for a pick up and drop off spot for the Hamptons Jitney.

        • dannyboy says:

          The “ideal for a pick up and drop off spot for the Hamptons Jitney” has very fast take-away food. Ideally prepared foods that can be eaten without eating utensils and doesn’t drip. Sandwiches even.

    56. George says:

      Thank God. Let’s continue cleaning up our city. Hope this is just the beginning.

    57. Lin says:

      Without question, these sellers have not followed laws that govern street vendors. The sidewalk space they occupied was over the legal limit and they left their wares over night. I have witnessed yelling, fighting harassment of women, drinking and smoking of marijuana. There used to be a used to be a bookstore on Broadway but they, like so many other small businesses, may not of have been able to afford the rent. The vendors paid nothing & I doubt they paid taxes.

    58. wijmlet says:

      Don’t police have better things to do?

      • BN says:

        Police are here to enforce the laws my friend, not just some of them. The question is what took so long. Hundreds have complained and yet nothing was done by police for years even though these vendors violated the law every night when they covered their tables and left them unintended.

        So instead of asking, as you have, “don’t the police have anything better to do”, I think the better question is “why do we pay these police to enforce our laws when it takes a store with connections like Bloomies to actually get them to get off their rumps and do what they are supposed to do?”. Thank you.

    59. dannyboy says:

      Re: Update

      President?

    60. Sean says:

      Housing Works on Columbus Avenue has second hand books, CDs, DVDs, and LPs for sale and you can get a deep discount on old people day every Tuesday.

    61. Liz says:

      Really don’t understand these commenters who embrace a dirty, rundown, degraded UWS as normal, indeed even something to be celebrated. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and am saddened by the changes wrought by rising rents and ever-larger buildings, but we should support the stores/restaurants that pay rent and taxes and add life to the streetscape. There is a new(ish) and friendly bookstore on Columbus at 81/82st!

      • UWSSurfer says:

        Book Culture is lovely but very expensive, especially their non-book items.

        We need rental stabilization or control for small businesses in NYC. The jacked-up rents are them driving away.

    62. Sean says:

      The bookseller may just have been a hoarder. It sure looked that way.