The New-York Historical Society has a fun, one-minute online feature where museum curators and other experts answer questions about the history of New York. The most recent installment to catch our eye tackles the street foods that previously held sway in the city but have gone out of style.
In the clip below, Public historian Kathleen Hulser City explains that there was a time when New Yorkers could buy almost anything from carts, including savory pies, fried clams, and soft-shelled crabs. However, the rise of more affordable restaurants pushed many of those foods indoors, shifting the focus of street eats more toward “treats” like ice cream, popcorn, and watermelon—basically, what you still find today at an NYC street fair.
So if you thought the nouveau food-truck boom represented a new era of street eats in NYC, it’s actually more like a return to the golden era when anything and could be consumed curbside.