The Lower East Side of Manhattan had many Jewish immigrants in the early years of the 1900s; Essex Street was once the home to many shops that sold pickles. Food52 wrote about “A History of the Lower East Side Pickle Wars” on October 11, 2013:
“His (Guss’ Pickles—ed.) store was hardly one-of-a-kind: at the height of Essex Street’s pickle phase (which earned it the unofficial moniker “Pickle Alley") there were at least 80 other pickle vendors in business, according to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.”
“Pickle Alley” does not seem to have citations before this article, although Essex Street was long known as a center of the pickle business. The Pickle Guys, at 49 Essex Street, is the last remaining pickle store on “Pickle Alley.”
Wikipedia: Essex Street
Essex Street is a north-south street on the Lower East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. North of Houston Street, the street becomes Avenue A, which goes north to 14th Street. South of Canal Street it becomes Rutgers Street, the southern end of which is at South Street.
Essex Street was laid out by James Delancey just before the American Revolution as the east side of a “Delancey Square” intended for a genteel ownership; Delancey returned to England as a Loyalist in 1775, and the square was developed as building lots.
Long a part of the Lower East Side Jewish enclave, many Jewish-owned stores still operate on the street, including a pickle shop and many Judaica shops. It is also home to the Essex Street Market.
Wikipedia: Guss’ Pickles
Guss’ Pickles was founded by a Polish immigrant, Isidor Guss. Guss arrived in New York in 1910, and like hundreds of thousands of other Jewish immigrants, settled in the Lower East Side. Clustered in the “pickle district” of Essex and Ludlow streets, early 20th century pickle vendors gave birth to what would be known as “New York style” pickles.
The Pickle Guys
My name is Alan Kaufman and I have a gourmet Pickle Store on the Lower East Side. As far back as 1910 there have always been numerous pickle stores on Essex Street. Today we are the only pickle store that exists on Essex Street.
THe New York Times—City Room blog
July 5, 2007, 1:14 pm
The Great Lower East Side Pickle War
By SEWELL CHAN
Meanwhile — as if this could possibly get more complicated — a third pickle business, The Pickle Guys, was started in 2003 by Alan Kaufman and other former employees of Guss’s Pickles. They were dismayed that the original business had left Essex Street, its home for so many years. Mr. Kaufman’s Web site boasts, “Today we are the only pickle store that exists on Essex Street.”
The True Story Of The Lower East Side Pickle Wars
TALIA BETH RALPH FOOD52
OCT. 22, 2013, 4:31 PM
It all started back in the 1930s, when Essex Street in Lower Manhattan was a prime place for peddle-cart pushers hawking Jewish and Italian street foods to hungry shoppers. Isidor “Izzy” Guss, a turn-of-the-century émigré from Russia, sold pickles from one such pushcart, and in 1920 opened a brick-and-mortar shop on Hester Street. His store was hardly one-of-a-kind: at the height of Essex Street’s pickle phase (which earned it the unofficial moniker “Pickle Alley”) there were at least 80 other pickle vendors in business, according to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.