When The Old Streets Talked

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In New York City around the middle of the Nineteenth Century almost all household products, from lamp oil to strawberries, were hawked directly from the crowded streets. Many of the street vendors became strongly attached to one locale, among them an old apple woman who for many years set up her chair at the front door of A. T. Stewart’s dry goods store. When Mr. Stewart prospered and moved to fancier quarters, the old woman shyly absented herself until Mr. Stewart himself saw to it that her chair was moved and placed exactly as before.

The charming water colors on these pages are the work of an Italian painter, Nicolino Calyo, done in 1840. They were recently presented to the Museum of the City of New York and were welcomed as a magnificent example of street-vending in the city’s early days. Calyo executed his series with freshness, humor and real sympathy for the people who called out the lilting “Cries of New York.”