Old New York In Photos #101 – Lunch Carts In The Financial District

Lunch Carts Serve Customers At The Corner Of Broad & Beaver Street 1906

Lunch carts 1906 Broad StreetA Detroit Publishing Co. photographer preserved this scene in 1906 at the corner of Broad and Beaver Street.

Then as now, food carts set up and do a brisk lunch business. This slice of life in old New York has many elements that can be seen by looking closer, so let’s examine them.

Frankfurters are advertised at 3¢ each or two for a nickel! The same sign informs (warns?) purchasers of an interesting caveat: “No frankfurters sold during the summer.” Hmmm. Possibility of food poisoning? I could not find any explanation in contemporary literature to why a sign would say this.

How profitable was it to be a hot dog vendor? According to a 1908 Boston Daily Globe article, a vendor purchased raw hot dogs at 13¢ per pound, yielding about 18 hotdogs. The buns, bought from a baker, were 40 cents per 100. With these profit margins, at least in Boston where each frankfurter cost a nickel, vendors cleared between $35 – $45 per week. Not bad considering garment workers earned anywhere from $10 – $15 per week.

Lemonade stand New York City 1906Licensed peddler No. 180? has fresh lemonade made to order at 2¢ per glass. A greater bargain was the premade lemonade costing only 1¢ per glass.  When the vendors say glass, they mean glass. In 1906, there were no disposable cups. You drank your lemonade on the spot and patrons returned the glass to the vendor. If you were lucky the glass might be cleaned a bit and then given to other customers to use. Repulsive and unsanitary to say the least.

The slogan on the umbrella, “All cars transfer to Bloomingdales,” was ubiquitous. It was seen all over the city on the sides of buildings, billboards and posters. It refers to the many mass transit options available to bring shoppers to Bloomingdale’s Department Store at 59th Street and Third Avenue. Two elevated train lines and the newly opened subway had stops that left you within a few steps of the store.

Boy and hot dog 1906At the turn of the century it was said a boy became a man when he was allowed to wear long pants. Keenly aware of the camera while feasting on a hot dog is a boy who wears knickers. His companion, just a couple of inches taller gets to wear pants.

Lunch carts Broad St women and worker 1906 photo Detroit PhotoTwo stout and hardy women crossing Broad Street look to their left and one finds something to smile about. Strolling close behind the women, wearing overalls and a cap, is a workman with a great Colonel Mustard mustache.

Man straw hat New York 1906The gentleman with the straw hat may have the largest cuffs I have ever seen on a pair of pants. They’re also a bit high.

The building sign above the food carts advertises the home office of Francis Draz & Co., liquor agents.

For those who did not want to eat outside at a food cart, the second floor of the Draz building contained John Salmon’s Lunch Room. The corner sign affixed to the building tells us that Salmon’s entrance was located around the corner at 32 Beaver Street.

fire alarm lamp new york 1906The fancy lamp on the corner signifies the presence of a fire alarm box.

Finally, this section of town though on the edge of the financial district, was still a residential neighborhood as evidenced by the shorter buildings with fire escapes. There are a few horse drawn delivery wagons and a couple of ground level stores.

Barely visible on the extreme left behind the fire alarm box, is a second hand book store catering to the thrifty dwellers of the area.

In 2019, no building from this scene remains.

3 thoughts on “Old New York In Photos #101 – Lunch Carts In The Financial District

  1. Anthony Clum

    The 7-20-4 on an umbrella on what appears to be a cart behind the Bloomingdale’s one may refer to a cigar brand founded in 1874. I can’t tell if it’s just an ad or if cigars were sold from it.

  2. Rick

    “Strolling close behind the women wearing overalls and a cap, is a workman with a great Colonel Mustard mustache.”

    I couldn’t find women wearing overalls and a cap anywhere. Perhaps a missing comma? 😉


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