1906 photo of a New York City street vender selling bananas (Courtesy of the National Archives II College Park, Maryland)
I've purchased bananas on the streets of New York probably hundreds of time but never gave much thought about their history or when they first became available in the Big Apple. Asian traders introduced bananas to the Island of Madagascar off the coast of Africa centuries ago and the Portuguese later introduced them to Brazil during the Atlantic slave trade. Bananas became one of the staples foods in tropical regions of the Americas during the 16 century but people in colonial New York would have had little to no access to them. Starting in the late nineteenth century the United Fruit Company’s “Great White Fleet,” a line of steamships began to import bananas to the United States through New Orleans, Mobil, and Galveston from its plantations in Central and South America. The made their way from markets in the U. S. South to northern port cities like New York over about a ten year period. Thus bananas sold on pushcart on the streets of New York in 1906 would have been an exotic street snack because it had been such a short time since they entered the U. S. market.
United Fruit Company Stories & Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=United+Fruit
Banana Stories & Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Bananas
Street Venders Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Street+Venders