New York City Street Vendors
December 23, 2009

According to, this morning's temperature is "25 degrees" but "feels like 13". That's 7 degrees below freezing but feels like 19 below freezing. That's brrr-cold.

Following are pictures of people who make a living early out on the streets of New York -- they are the sidewalk vendors many office workers and building tenants can't live (or at least function coherently) without.

#1. Newspaper vendor under the 42nd Street overpass fronting Grand Central Station.

In the three bracketed images of this HDR-edit, the vendor is actually swaying from side to side. He is doing this to generate body heat.

#2. Fruit vendor on Madison and 40th.

Many of his fellow fruit vendors along my walk to work are absent today. He's actually the only one who made it in. As you can see, he is moving. He is constantly moving. Stopping would mean loss of body heat. In the third frame of this bracketed picture, he's near-invisible as he is moving toward the other side of his cart. He will be out here for at least ten hours.

#3. Coffee vendors have it made -- they are shielded from the cold and wind gusts. They're my source (and many New Yorkers' source) of smiles and early morning happy banter (which perhaps preserves our sanity) before diving headlong into the dog-eat-dog corporate-world of New York.

This one on Park and 41st is where I get my daily morning coffee from. And, yes, many of them do mean their nice smiles -- all year long.

#4. Corner newsstand on 42nd and Madison.

Corner newsstands are the best protected. I'd say they're the elite mansion-dwellers among New York City's street vendors.

Depending on what they're selling, sidewalk vendors are either exposed to the elements or have some protection. It must be agonizing during exceptionally cold mornings for those with no protection trying to decide whether to just stay home or risk getting sick. According to one website, losing a day's take on a good day could mean losing the equivalent of a month's utility bill or, worse, rent.

Thank you for looking!