A Bookseller Busted on the 4th of July

The New York Times profiles an Upper West Side fixture.

NYPDCarWe recently highlighted New York Times writer Corey Kilgannon’s chronicling of the Silver Gull Beach Club in Queens. The article series launched over the July 4 holiday weekend and, coincidentally, that date figures comically in Kilgannon’s newest report.

The piece “A Sidewalk Vendor Amasses Books, Summonses and Lawsuits” documents a staple of the Upper West Side, Kirk Davidson, who has been selling books from an unlicensed perch on Broadway between 72nd and 73rd Streets since 1986. From the article:

In July, the NYPD started their latest crackdown, deploying a team of officers and trucks to seize books from 10 tables on the block, which included a couple of tables kept by smaller vendors. Officers issued Mr. Davidson a summons for leaving more than 2,000 books unattended on the sidewalk.

“They showed up on the Fourth of July,” Mr. Davidson said. “That makes it an American story.”

Davidson, a wily Army vet who got the latest summons dismissed on a technicality, told Kilgannon that over the years, settlements of his counter-suits against the city have totaled around $80,000. A new law may eventually put an end to his First Amendment loophole, but he jokes that by that time he will be retired. Davidson’s battles have long been documented in other publications as well such as DNAInfo and Westside Rag.