The Near-Death of a Salesman
A handful of aging men with horse-drawn carts are likely the last generation to carry out a nineteenth-century Baltimore tradition—and among the only suppliers of fresh produce to the city’s food deserts.
Photos by Patrick Joust
Along North Fremont Avenue on Baltimore’s West Side, sandwiched between a tire repair shop and an auto body shop, across the street from a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and a near-dilapidated Baptist church, sits a small horse stable. It houses more than ten horses and a number of cats. Hanging from the stable’s chain link fence encasement is a hand-lettered “NO TRESPASSING” sign. If you didn’t know it was here, or lacked a sense of smell, you could easily walk right past it — that is, if you miss the large and colorful mural that decorates what was once a drab brown concrete wall next to the entrance to the stable. Painted during the summer of 2013, and funded via a Kickstarter campaign, the mural is about fifty feet long and twenty feet high. It illustrates and pays homage to the history of the Baltimore City arabbers (pronounced AY-rab-ber) — African-American fruit and vegetable sellers who hawk their wares from horse-drawn carts. The name is believed to ori…