Photo via Megan Morris/Flickr
Before the end of her tenure on Dec. 31, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is making an eleventh-hour push for legislation aimed at expanding the city’s food vending industry. As Politico New York reported, the bill adds 335 more licenses for food vendors over 10 years, with 35 set aside for veterans. Currently, there are 5,100 licensed food vendors in the city. While the bill’s passage could be a victory for immigrant workers, many who make a living working on food trucks or carts, although sometimes on the black market, critics say increasing the number of permits allowed for rent-free vendors could hurt brick-and-mortar shops.
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To fully experience New York City, you have to eat. And then eat some more. So inextricably linked with its food, the city’s social and cultural history requires an exploration of its endless cuisines. And while street food is not unique to New York, the city provides some of the most diverse dining options in the world, with over 10,000 people make a living by street vending. But this tradition dates all the way back to the 1600s when European settlers enjoyed eating shellfish on the streets. Food vendors took on a more formal incarnation in the early 1800s on the Lower East Side and have changed with every new immigrant group that’s landed here since. From oysters and knishes to hot dogs and Halal, the city’s street vendors reflect its constant evolution and also what brings New Yorkers together.
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Images: Scarface home (left), 41st St hotel (right)