I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time since New York City evicted all of the vendors and panhandlers a few weeks ago. I fully supported clearing the Bridge for pedestrians just like I previously supported removing the bike lane from the walkway. However, I was skeptical that New York City would follow through. I can happily report that I saw no vendors or stands on my two walks across the Brooklyn Bridge on the afternoon of February 6, 2024. Despite having a decent number of pedestrians, both walks were easy and painless (save for the one guy twirling around with his “selfie stick”). Moreover, I only saw one illegal bike on the Bridge. There were a few cops (first time I have seen cops on the Bridge since early 2020), so that may also be helping.
While I did not take pictures of the walkway, you can see the Manhattan skyline and Freedom Tower from what is close to the Manhattan off-ramp at about 1:40 PM.
The Gothamist published an article on the push to ban street vendors from the magisterial Brooklyn Bridge. I am 100% in support of banning street vendors from the Bridge, but I will focus on another point in the report. See the following quote:
But vendors said there are not many legal spots where they can move to. Street vending has become more common as asylum seekers try to make ends meet without work permits.
Setting aside the reporter’s insistence on using asylum seeker as a blanket term for aliens who may or may not have actually applied for asylum, much less have a colorable asylum case, I submit for the record that hawking wares on the street is not a legal solution to not having employment authorization. An alien who is not authorized to engage in employment is not authorized to engage in self-employment (many aliens who are explicitly here on work visas are not eligible to engage in self-employment, see e.g., H-1B specialty occupation workers and O-1 aliens of extraordinary ability). The article quotes a street vendor advocate in the very next paragraph as describing street vendors as small businesses. An alien who lacks employment authorization cannot legally work as a street vendor regardless of his or her desire to make ends meet.