Re: NYC Street Peddler Licenses #usa


I am unsure if old NYC pushcart licenses still exist, but I can tell you for sure that old NYC "stand" licenses, for small outdoor stalls and stands that were in front of buildings but still within the bounds of a building's property line, do exist! Thousands of them!
They're stored at the NYC Municipal Library, which is at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan. Note that this is the same building as the Municipal Archives, but the Library is in a separate area (in the back) and the Library has a different focus and breadth of collections than the Archives. Also, generally speaking, the staff at the Municipal Library are extremely nice and helpful people, while the staff at the Municipal Archives...well, I literally spent my morning today drafting and notarizing an affidavit against some of their latest shenanigans, so draw your own conclusions.
These "stand" licenses have the name of the person who owned the building or property, the building's address, the name of the license applicant who wants to run the stall out front, and the types of business they want to operate. They sometimes, but not always, included the applicant's "first papers" or naturalization information on them, including court name. There appear to be two different standardized forms that the city used and information required on one form was slightly different than the other.

Most of the documents that have survived are still folded up in a tri-fold format, brittle and delicate, and then packed in large boxes labeled by approximate year. But a few of the years -- most of 1899, 1900, and most of 1901 -- have been carefully flattened out and preserved and put into neat folders by the staff at the Municipal Library.
I tried using the online Municipal Library catalog today to see what years still exist for these licenses; as far as I remember, it's from about 1880-1910 with a few gaps, which is primetime for many of our immigrant ancestors in New York. But annoyingly, I cannot find the files listed in the Municipal Library's own online catalog anymore.
Luckily, I took hundreds of photos of most of these already-preserved records, though just the better-preserved 1899/1900/1901 ones. I haven't put them online anywhere yet, so they haven't been transcribed yet. But they're really neat, and this entire set of records should be something that New York area researchers, or ideally a New York area genealogy society, might want to work on to photograph and publish and transcribe.
Attached are some of the photos I took of these "stand" licenses in June 2019. I'll put more photos of the actual licenses in a follow-up message, since this e-mail system limits the number of photos allowed to be attached per message.
- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Mill Valley, California

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