Tourists said they were enjoying walking the Brooklyn Bridge without having to navigate around souvenir stands on Wednesday, the first day of the city’s total ban of vendors on the famous span.
The Department of Transportation employees and NYPD officers cleared out the sellers’ tables and operations at midnight, just as the ban went into effect. Workers posted a sign on the pedestrian walkway reading “No vending allowed.”
On Wednesday morning, there were no souvenir tables or pop-up photo booths set up on the bridge. Previously, there were dozens crowding the walkway.
“Nobody came and approached selling food, it was quite comfortable. There were two rows, people going forth and back, quite easy,” said Aigul Zhakupova, 30, a tourist visiting from Kazakhstan. “The tower really looks magnificent when you go under it.”
A handful of vendors, who declined to comment, mingled at the Manhattan entrance to the bridge near rows of tables folded up on a sidewalk. A notice posted on lamp posts indicated eight tables used by vendors had been seized by the city.
Mayor Eric Adams has said the ban is necessary to improve the flow of pedestrian traffic on the tourist destination. More than 34,000 pedestrians visited the bridge on a typical fall weekend last year.
“The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York City’s most stunning gems. Tourists and New Yorkers alike deserve to walk across it and enjoy its beauty without being packed together like sardines or risking their safety,” Adams said in a statement.
Supporters of the vendors, meanwhile, walked the bridge with dismay.
“The flow [of foot traffic] is pretty much the same. The bridge is always crowded, which is a good thing. But right now, you don’t have vendors. You don’t have artwork to buy, you don’t have beautiful, affordable souvenirs to go back home with, you don’t have a place to grab a bottle of water or a hot dog or a pretzel like you used to yesterday,” Mohamad Attia, managing director of the Street Vendor Project, said. “It’s a really disappointing scene.”
Attia said the city should just restrict sales on narrower sections of the walkway. A bill introduced by City Councilmember Gale Brewer last month has similar proposals.
Tourists said they were just enjoying the extra space.
“It allows you to be able to experience the bridge without having to duck and weave between shops and stores and whatnot, and it allows people to get together and connect without having to be paused along the way with different sort of obstructions,” said Shuban Ganasan, 22, who was visiting from Australia. “The architectural genius with this one is unparalleled. It’s just amazing, the whole experience.”