Today marks the sad end of another era: Joe Liberatore, the last of the original Arthur Avenue Retail Market vendors, has died.
According to the market’s official Facebook page, Liberatore passed away over the weekend at the age of 93. He began selling his plants and seedlings as a street vendor in the 1930s, and then moved to the indoor market, which, like the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market, was built by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in 1940.
As Grub Street notes, Liberatore was one of 117 vendors who opened the market; in later years, he was known as Little Italy’s mayor. As the many tributes on the market’s Facebook page attest, he will be missed.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 26, 2011