items on ground

By Jessica Brockington

City Council member Helen Rosenthal said at a police community council meeting on Monday night that she’s been looking for ways to ban street vendors from Broadway between 72nd and 74th street, after hearing from Upper West Siders who say the vendors antagonize them and take up too much space.

She said that she floated an idea recently with lawyers for the Land Use Committee of the City Council to have these two blocks added to a citywide register for locations where any vending is banned. She was told that the Board that put together that register has disbanded so there is actually no way for blocks to be added.

She reminded everyone that the city is revising the vending laws altogether and she is determined to keep her voice in the discussion. She’s hoping there will be sections of the UWS where no street vendors are allowed.

Special Operations Lieutenant Eileen Lazarus said the conditions team has a daily presence between 72nd and 74th Street. She indicated they have issued 15-17 Environmental Control Board Summonses in that area in the last 2 or 3 weeks. “That’s what we can do for the book vendors.” Her team has been going out with tape measures to ensure the tables being used are no larger than 8’x3’ and that the tables are not close to street trees or fixed objects.

“We utilize parking summonses at those locations too,” she told the crowd. If there are harassment complaints, they can also take criminal action.

Lt. Daniel J. Albano, from the NYPD’s Legal Bureau, was on hand to answer questions about street vendors. He indicated that summonses can range from $50 to $1,000 and that some of the vendors routinely pay their summonses.

“One in particular has been a thorn in this community,” he said. “But he pays his summonses.”

“Food vendors are allowed to have lights and electrical off a generator,” he said. But he added that managing the City street vendors is an enormous challenge for the City. “We went from the quintessential NY pushcart to a restaurant.” The owner of the two hot dog carts in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art pays $1.6 million to the Parks Department for his concession, he pointed out.

One audience member, however, said he thought the community could work with the vendors to manage the relationship better, instead of trying to ban them. “What’s the balance of our 1st amendments rights as residents versus theirs? If they are getting out of line, let’s work and coexist with these people under the 1st amendment umbrella. The vending laws most likely won’t be changing in our lifetimes.”

Photo by Meredith Kurz.

NEWS | 48 comments | permalink
    1. LOU says:

      wonder if the Bloomie outlet has something to do with this

    2. Judith Kass says:

      I support all efforts to ban aggressive, too large street vendors. Big food carts sell their goods with no nutrition info. Book sellers take up too much space. Try getting out of a taxi at B’way between 72 and 73 Sts.

    3. no patience says:

      There is one particular “book seller” who’s mentally ill and scary. We all know him by sight–he screams and shouts. Yet he’s there every day.
      The blocks between 69th & 74th on bway are filthy and full of dirt and litter. Overflowing rusty trash cans. The whole area iS an eyesore-sad to say-nyc is getting uglier and dirtier and the UWS is far worse than most neighborhoods. Trader jo has brought lines and trash anD a new younger type of homeless. They get off a bus from out of state -write a sign- and sit on the sidewalk waiting for your cash. It’s a new type of job.
      Anyway it’s time to get rid of these booksellers-it does seem our city has lost so much and any improvements or betterment wE try to accomplish get lost in nonsense paperwork and inefficiency. Just depressing.

    4. Gwen C. says:

      Try to get rid of them, see what happens. Helen your priorities are wrong and I will see to it that anyone who opposes book vendors or Upper West Side culture in general feels our wrath.

      • Ed says:

        Gwen, you are quite full of yourself. Those of us that want this mess cleaned up do not fear “your wrath.”

    5. Mitchell says:

      It takes a special kind of horrible to complain about people whose only livelihood is selling second-hand books & records on the streets — legally & safely for MANY years, btw — because they create an “eyesore” or because they block your way out of a taxicab! Your only solution is to displace them… and then complain about the homeless people in our precious neighborhood. My complaint is that the UWS has lost its diversity, its character, its tolerance. For the most liberal neighborhood in the most liberal borough of the most liberal city in the nation, there are an awful lot of uncharitable elitists. (And this doesn’t just apply to comments about the street vendors & homeless. Every time an economically-priced restaurant closes, the same voices squawk about the “dregs” that frequented such places.) Christmas season is also upon us… Shall we start the complaints about the tree sellers now?

      • Lucien says:

        I agree and support your message. Banning book sellers in front of a clothing store that sells fast fashion has too much irony in it. I encourage people to watch the documentary “The True Cost” which examines fast fashion’s unadvertised sins, from unregulated production that caused a factory collapse killing more than 1,000 people in Bangledesh in 2013, to the toxic waste spewed out by factories producing disposable garments, to attempts at unionization that are thwarted by violence.

      • Sean says:

        The neighborhood of which you speak does not exist anymore. That was 35 years ago.

        • UWSsurfer says:

          You are wrong. You must feel panicked that posters like Marcus, Mitchell, Gwen, I
          and others envision the UWS to be a diverse,
          creative place.

          I feel hopeful.

          I give thanks.

      • UWSsurfer says:

        The Christmas vendors are white. They come
        and then they go. Everyone feels sorry for them having to stay outside in the cold
        not realizing that there are people within yards of the Xmas tree sellers who live outside for 52 weeks a year.

        As long as people can have the convenience of buying their tree and THEY benefit, they don’t give a damn about people’s benefit of buying books 52 weeks a year.

        I say to to Lt Albano in talking about vendors paying for a summons in the bbove article,
        “One in particular has been a thorn in this community,” he said. “But he pays his summonses.”

        What he considers a “thorn” others consider a “maverick” and “entrepreneur” and a fixture of the neighborhood.

      • Gretchen says:

        You’re wrong if you think that this is their ONLY source of income — they also sell illegal drugs and cause havoc and scare pedestrians too boot. They are a public nuisance and safety hazard. You also can’t walk down the street without tripping over their crap and barely leave space enough for people to maneuver. Is this your idea of safety. And if the UWS is so heartless, how come nobody’s on Park, Madison or 5th Ave. doing this and getting away with it?

    6. David Collins says:

      About time something gets done about this shit show. The entire area in and around the 72nd street subway station is scary/dirty/unsafe at best. Anything that can be done to remedy the situation would be welcomed.

    7. Eddie says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the food vendors take their carts home every night, while I think most of these “booksellers” leave their treasures their overnight, wrapped up. This is a big difference to me – if they were forced to assemble and take apart their boutiques every night, they would be a lot less sprawling and less of a hindrance and eye sore.

      And to the those above who complain of the demise of the liberal UWS and our lack of tolerance, please invite these entrepreneurs to set up shop in front of your apartment the day you are having an open house to sell the home that much of your net worth is tied up in. Or let one of the increasing number of neighborhood beggars and homeless take a nap on your building’s front steps that day.

      • UWSsurfer says:

        Eddie, your Open House doesn’t trump
        the First Amendment.

        We see the book sellers net worth – their inventory. Have some compassion.

        I’m disappointed in Helen Rosenthal’s
        support of the hideous, body cavity design
        for the Nat.History Museum and now rousting
        the book sellers.

        • coolaughts says:

          What is really going on here? Why does everything have to become political? Let’s keep our city CLEAN and follow the rules, shall we? Do we really need to see people HANGING OUT SITTING IN RECLINGING CHAIRS ON BROADWAY?? NO, NO NO WE DON’T. And these tables HAVE NO BUSINESS staying overnight. Pitch your little table and then get it OUT OF THERE AT NIGHT, PERIOD. THIS IS OUR CITY, not some imaginary movie. Let’s create it how we want to. We don’t have to put up with dirt and people sitting on chairs simply because its new york city. Go to Tokyo if you want to see a city 3 times the size of NYC’s 5 boroughs and see if they tolerate nonsense like this. They don’t, and neither should we. The first amendment thing is nonsense. These guys are creating stores on broadway and its ugly. I say clean up from 69th to 73rd completely. WHY NOT?

          • UWSsurfer says:

            Hmm, so I have to go to Tokyo?
            Uh,no. The suicide rate is very high.
            It might be clean but people are oppressed.

            I am in favor of having a uniform street vendor cart that is pleasant to see and keeps things tidy. They can be locked up at night. I believe that there is city/state money to achieve this change.

            Like someone said, everyone knows who the
            2 troublemakers are at the corner of w. 72nd and Broadway (not Kirk who is at w.73rd).

            They need help with mental health issues.

            For the people who are afraid of them, why not be let out of your taxi one block away?

            I can’t figure out why anyone would try to get out of a taxi on Broadway and w. 72nd or w. 72nd and Broadway when both streets are full of traffic and have bus stops.

            Is it some sort of power issue?
            What’s the big deal? Get out at a safer point.

            NYC needs to address failings in the shelter system — people cannot hold a job down and be expected to be at a shelter at 3 pm and be locked up.

      • John says:


        The book vendor lovers are inoculated againt reason…

        • Eddie says:

          Agreed. And it is easy to feel this way paying $500 a month to live in a rent controlled Classic 6.

          • UWSsurfer says:

            So you think all people who support free speech must be rent-controlled?

            Eye roll.

            If you are going to try to slam people, then at least get it right — it’s “rent-stabilized” and not “rent controlled.”

            The people I know who are rent-stabilized
            in the UWS are all seniors. I’m not one of them so save your insults.

            They buy books on street, eat at senior centers and churches/synagogues. They have to
            scrimp in order to live and afford their medication. Their Social Security is not enough to live on.

            • Mark says:

              This ultra-liberal tripe is embarrassing to those of us who are liberal AND who can think.
              I live in a luxury building where there are plenty of rent-stabilized seniors who are quite wealthy.
              Spare us your uneducated view of the world and put some actual knowledge in your brain please. You really are embarrassing yourself.

            • UWSsurfer says:

              Mark, you are the disgrace. Just because someone disagrees with you doesnt mean you can throw garbage.

              You say that you have rent-stabilized neighbors who are wealthy? I have never met any of them and I live in a luxury building.

              It doesn’t matter. So they were in the group who fought for rent stabilization and suffered for it.
              Why should i begrudge them? They earned it.

            • UWSsurfer says:

              Mark, you and Sean can hop aboard Scooter Stan’s scooter and hate the world.

              There are others who are trying to solve some of the problems.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              just for the record,if you lok at the data, you will find that the vast majority of rent stabilized tenants are not “very wealthy.” the median income is well below owners and market rate tenants, which is what one might expect.

            • Anon says:

              There are rent-controlled apartments though far fewer in number than rent-stabilized ones. In fact, if one were paying 500/month for a classic 6 it likely would be a (usually even more under market rate) rent controlled unit

        • UWSsurfer says:


          …more liked infused with reason and understanding.

          I just visited the new Bloomingdale’s
          Outlet. What an assault on the senses.

          It is full of cheaply made clothes that are still overpriced even though they have been cut in half.

          Bloomingdale’s has wrecked the industrial cement interior design by painting everything white. Glaring white lights, yellow and black everywhere, ugh.

          And you guys complain about the messiness of the booksellers. Check out the top floor.
          I laughed when I saw it.

          The Frye boot boxes piled up haphazardly looked just like the volatile tall bookseller’s tables right outside.

      • Sean says:

        You are wrong. They leave their crap out there 24/7 and take up more space than legally allowed in places.

    8. Sam Houston says:

      It does not help the stores who pay high rents, it does not help the city’s services which are already taxed, it does not help the residents of the area who pay some of the highest living costs in the world, it does no help tourists who don’t come to NYC to buy used copies of Bonfire of the Vanities and certainly does not help to bring safety and cleanliness. This guys are an all cash business not declaring a single penny.

      • UWSsurfer says:

        Remember the Alamo, Sam Houston — the real fight involved trying to protect hidden gold and not people.

        Tourists buy the purses. Residents buy the used books. We’re buying local and not from
        the sweat factory, Amazon.

        • Sean says:

          Oh please stop with this nonsense.

          • UWSsurfer says:


            Not sure what you contribute only than to piss on other people who comment.

            I am related by marriage to a hero of the Alamo–no not Sam Houston.

            He said,

            “Be always sure you’re right-then go a-head!”

            And that’s what i am trying to do.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              USWSsurfer, “props” to you for taking on the Yahoos… who seem to be limited to smugness in their logic.

    9. dorothy says:

      try dealing with the “vendors” between 111th and 225th on broadway who have 25-30 feet of sidewalk tables, and leave their “merchandise” all night. Additionally, they are adjacent to a phone booth and a Halal food cart, leaving roughly 40 feet of sidewalk inaccessible from Broadway

    10. Sally says:

      The more I hear about Rosenthal, the more I like her.

      • UWSsurfer says:

        That’s funny. The more I hear about her positions on important neighborhood issues, the less I like her.

        • UWSsurfer says:

          In the past, I have defended Helen Rosenthal
          on WSR in the comments section. People say that her staff is rude and she doesn’t respond to emails and calls. I kept thinking that it was a factor of her being overloaded.

          I watched a bit of the public hearings
          on Airbnd and was horrified by how badly she and Jumaane Williams behaved.

          The Airbnd exec was a bit of jerk but he should have been able to speak and find a solution instead of being cut off by

          I respect and wanted to hear what the Public Advocate Letitia James had to say about it.

          But there was Helen Rosenthal, cutting up, laughing and speaking to some woman while Letitia was addressing the Airbnd guy.

          I lost so much respect for Jumaane and Helen.

    11. UWSsurfer says:

      Can we conduct a poll?

      What is better for the UWS, a $949 coat at Bloomingdale outlet (that i actually saw tonight) or a $5 Thai cookbook from the surly
      book vendor at Broadway and w. 72nd (my actual purchase)?

    12. UWSsurfer says:

      I give thanks to Meredith Kurz, Jessica Brockington and WSR for reporting on the street vendor issue among many issues that affect our neighborhood.

      I am thankful that Jessica wasn’t ripped to shreds for her report like Meredith suffered at the hands of the resident grumps for so-called grammatical errors.

      This story is important.

    13. UWSsurfer says:

      Vive le Upper Westside!

      I’m going to see the Macy’s balloons being inflated.

      I hate that Federated has taken over all of our retail stores but I do thank them for contributing to the City and world with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and their 4th of July fireworks.

    14. Upper west sider says:

      What no one remembers what the upper west side was like in the 70ths and 80ths? It’s a lot better now. I love the book vendors. Buy many from them. So stone me. What ever happened to diversity? Do we want NYC to be like Times Square is like now? Disneyland? Ugh!