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Evicted Brooklyn Bridge Vendors Have Relocated To DUMBO

"We’re in New York City, it’s crowded every-goddamn-where," one vendor said when told neighbors are complaining.

Photo: Kevin Duggan|

Souvenir sellers relocated to Washington Street in DUMBO after Mayor Adams banned them from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Street vendors booted from the Brooklyn Bridge have set up shop just steps from the span’s Brooklyn end, lining the sidewalks leading down to the popular tourist hotspots in DUMBO. 

After Mayor Adams banished the souvenir hawkers from the span on Wednesday, some relocated to Washington Street next to the stairway from the bridge’s walkway, angering residents who say they’re crowding the already busy paths in the tourist Mecca. 

Vendors said the new spot still catches a steady stream of out-of-towners funneling down off the bridge, but one lamented he makes less than half the revenue he did on the iconic overpass selling New York-themed merch. 

“We were forced to move down here, we didn’t want to move down here. The business is better up there,” said Michael Seri, pointing to the fabled span. "It’s not as good as the bridge, it’ll never be as good on the bridge — it’s not even close.”

Vendor and DUMBO resident Michael Seri said he makes less than half of what he used to on the bridge. Photo: Kevin Duggan

The one-block stretch was hopping with visitors Thursday evening on their way further toward the water on Washington Street, a popular haven for sightseers to snap a shot of the famous view of the Manhattan Bridge arch framing the Empire State Building in the distance.

Those crowds, who are eager to purchase Big Apple-emblazoned hats, T-shirts, and yellow cab toy cars, are the reason the vendors set up along the strip in the first place, Seri noted.

"The tourists come here, and they shop, and they love it," Seri said. "You want heavy traffic, and they’re all tourists."

But some residents have started raising the alarm about the vendors, saying they take up too much space and that they fasten tables on the sidewalk overnight to keep their spots.

Vendors secured their wares overnight, according to the DUMBO Action Committee. Photo courtesy of DUMBO Action Committee

“This is not a vendor area, this is a public sidewalk that is to be used by people,” said Jimmy Ng, a member of the civic group the DUMBO Action Committee. “They’re not going to City Hall, they’re going to where the tourists are which is DUMBO.”

The resident accused the Adams administration of just moving vendors around for publicity without regard for the consequences. 

“They did their photo op and clap, clap done … but I think residents of DUMBO feel very ignored as the direct consequence of that action,” Ng said. 

There were vendors on the strip before the bridge ban, but their numbers have increased 10 times, according to Council Member Lincoln Restler, who met with City Hall and the Department of Sanitation recently to discuss the situation. 

“Unfortunately, it feels like we’re in a position of playing catchup,” Restler told Streetsblog. “I’ve received reports of people sleeping overnight with their belongings on Washington Street, which is a troubling situation, and we’re working with the appropriate authorities on civil enforcement and public health enforcement to ensure the health of all in our community.”

A spokesperson for DSNY, which is in charge of street vendor enforcement, said the agency is focusing on "cleanliness and quality of life."

“At this time we are monitoring the conditions, in line with our focus on enforcement around cleanliness and quality of life,” said Vincent Gragnani in a statement. “DSNY takes a warnings-first approach whenever possible, and enforcement when necessary.”

The block of Washington Street near the bridge steps, from Prospect Street to York Street, sits between two largely empty lots and passes under the BQE, enabling street vending without breaking the many city regulations, such as not setting up too close to building entrances, bus stops, or driveways. 

Seri, the seller — who, like his foe Ng, lives in DUMBO — said the vendors were out of the way of apartment buildings and other businesses, adding that crowded sidewalks are part of life in the city. 

“What’s the issue, we’re under a goddamn bridge — it’s not hurting anybody, I don’t understand it,” Seri said. “We’re in New York City, it’s crowded every-goddamn-where."

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