Vendors forced to close up shop on Brooklyn Bridge and all NYC bridges

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Vendors forced to close up shop on Brooklyn Bridge, all NYC bridges
Kemberly Richardson has the latest details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City tourists hoping to purchase a souvenir or two along the Brooklyn Bridge will now have to seek other options elsewhere.

Enforcement began Wednesday to clear the heavily packed pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge, where vendors are usually posted selling tourists all kinds of items to remember their visit.

However, Mayor Eric Adams has called the situation a public safety issue. He says the tables set up along the footpath cause a bottleneck for people walking in the area.

On an average weekend day, nearly 35,000 people cross the bridge.

With the clearance of the usually crowded area, Adams believes this nearly 6,000-foot-long East River crossing is now a symbol of what the city should look like.

"That Brooklyn Bridge today, that is clean, that is clear, that does not have people lined up on both sides that are selling every and anything," Adams said Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Bridge is officially off limits to all vendors.

The city made good on its promise to remove anyone selling souvenirs.

That Brooklyn Bridge today, that is clean, that is clear.
Eric Adams, NYC Mayor

For some tourists, the iconic span is a staple for visitors.

"It's crowded, but I guess for us, because we're not from here, it's part of the experience," said Jose Mirabel, visiting from Florida. "I mean, we expect to see the vendors and the good deals, and these people are trying to make a living. But I also see the other side."

Many of the vendors are licensed. Some are disabled veterans, like Dawud, a licensed vendor, who doesn't work along the crowded Brooklyn Bridge strip but thinks it has become too chaotic.

"It's a free for all. You know, certain people pay the price to be here to do this," he said. "Certificates of Authority, EIN numbers, taxes and things like that. And, you know, other people, they just do what they want to do. So, it makes guys like me just not even want to play the game."

It's a free for all. You know, certain people pay the price to be here to do this.
Dawud, Licensed vendor

The vendors who are most upset about the ban preferred to tell Eyewitness News off-camera.

"New York's a big city," said Rashawn Prince. "It's not going to be hard to find another spot."

Prince said that while most of the affected vendors will land somewhere else, it's disappointing to lose out on the foot traffic.

"The effort the city is putting into this, the resources is going to be put towards something else, like let's get the subway correct," he added.

However, the beginning of enforcement doesn't necessarily mean the end of vendors on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The city council is considering a bill that would allow them to return and stay 20 feet apart.

That would make them few and far between, if that's approved and enforced.

"There should not be vendors at the entrances," said NYC Council member Gale Brewer. "Vendors should be 20 feet apart, vendors should only be where there is enough room for them."

The new order applies to all 789 bridges in the city.

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Kemberly Richardson has details.


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