Friday, February 23, 2007
New York City "Ghetto" Fish Market, 1903
Fine panoramic view of this busy market on a Friday morning. Immense throngs of people are seen passing along the stands and making their selections of fish. A great character study." Thomas Alva Edison, 1903.
The view, photographed from an elevated camera position, looks down on a very crowded New York City street market. Rows of pushcarts and street vendors' vehicles can be seen. The precise location is difficult to ascertain, but it is certainly on the Lower East Side, probably on or near Hester Street, which at the turn of the century was the center of commerce for New York's Jewish ghetto. Located south of Houston Street and east of the Bowery, the ghetto population was predominantly Russian, but included immigrants from Austria, Germany, Rumania and Turkey. According to a description in a 1901 newspaper, an estimated 1,500 pushcart peddlers were licensed to sell wares (primarily fish) in the vicinity of Hester Street. At one point the film seems to follow three official looking men (one in a uniform) as they walk among the crowd. They may be New York City health inspectors, who apparently monitored the fish vendors closely.
More detailed Info here at the Library of Congress.