Alternative Uses for Curbside Parking Space, Circa 1941

This striking color photograph was snapped on Broome Street near Baruch Place (a street that vanished beneath the Bernard Baruch housing project) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, September 27, 1941. The photo is part of the Charles W. Cushman collection at Indiana University. A tip of the hat to Kevin Walsh’s outstanding Forgotten New York web site for pointing this out.

What would we call this street scene today? An art installation? Political demonstration? Nuisance? Danish?

Enjoy a bigger version of the photo, right here.

  • AD

    These people lack the ability to drive as fast as they want wherever they want. So how can they look so … happy?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    That pushcart made me think: sometimes there’s conflict between food carts and book dealers vs. pedestrians for sidewalk space. If the vendors were allowed to set up their carts and tables in parking spaces, that would eliminate some of the conflict.

  • Huh. Up here in the UES, at a CB8 meeting to re-approve our Greenmarkets of all things, one opponent made an impassioned speech about how people who choose to live here don’t want to encourage “living off the street” and that’s why street vendors and markets are discouraged.

    I have a feeling she’d be struck with horror at the above image. I mean, it looks like some sort of third world country in comparison to the way we civilizied city people live! *roll eyes*

  • SPer

    Wonderful photograph. Cars — what a disaster they’ve turned out to be, though I love driving probably more than the next person. My dream: a city of cyclists and mass transit riders and walkers, where driving around alone in your car will be socially unacceptable, like smoking in restaurants. Well, if there were fewer cars on the road, I probably wouldn’t hate them so much and would not so wish to shame the drivers. So let’s say a day when people only drive when they really, really have to. Was anyone else riding around on Mother’s Day? Brilliantly sunny, breezy, and so little traffic. I road all over; it was delightful.

  • Michael

    That might be my Great-Grandfather

  • jmc

    They should make “vendor bulbs” just like bus bulbs in order to protect vendors from stray cars/cabs while keeping a wide sidewalk for other uses.


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