Fans of the magnificent Homicide: Life on the Street may remember the word “arabber”: derived from Victorian slang, it refers to mobile urban merchants who sell produce from horse-drawn carts. There are still a few left on the streets of Baltimore, although they were once a common sight in eastern American cities. The arabbers, who are usually male and black, travel around the city singing out their wares. The Arabber Preservation Society was formed in 1994 to aid the few who are left, defending them from city officials and animal rights groups who would like to see the trade stamped out.
Their turnout is gorgeous: the wagons are painted bright red and yellow, and the horses wear special “Baltimore harnesses”, black with gold trim, red tassels and red plumes with bell drops.
Arabbers: an endangered species (BaltimoreStores.com)
The Wanderers’ Songs (Preservation Online)
We Are Arabbers (IMDB; documentary about the arabbers)
The Arabbers of Baltimore (Amazon; book by Roland L. Freeman)
Junkyard and Arabbers (flickr photo set by hot_tea)