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April 12, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 25
City Would Push Pushcarts Off Bleecker Street
By Michael Smith
The item tersely entitled No. 126 on the calendar of the Board of Estimate for Thursday, April 5, turned out to be a call for the “elimination” of the fruit and vegetable pushcarts on Bleecker Street and in two other areas. The call had issued from Albert Pacetta, Commissioner of Public Markets.
The Commissioner gave a string of reasons for his surprise request. “In and of themselves they are a bit unsightly,” he said. “They are not kept in a condition that would make them look attractive.” And, he said, they cause traffic congestion: “There is no reason to tie up a whole block area for a few pushcarts.”
But Pacetta’s most potent reason seemed to be that there are so few of the open-air stands left. Ten permitees remain in the Bleecker Street area, 18 at Mott Street, and nine at the Union Street Market in Brooklyn, each paying $3 a week for use of the public thoroughfares…
Leon Seidel, owner of the Lion’s Head Coffee House, who was at the meeting on another matter, took up the theme. “Stores like the A&P make the street sterile,” he said. “People don’t come to the Village to look at the Washington Square atrocity. You people have no feeling for the small businessman. Just what are you trying to do, turn the city into a suburb?”
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]