9. Former Governor Alfred E. Smith Worked at the Fish Market

Fulton Fish market street scene in black and white photo
Photograph from New York Public Library

In 1892, Former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith worked at the Fulton Market and famously carried his experience there throughout his political career. Smith was sent to work at the Fulton Fish Market after the death of his father when Smith was just 14 years old. Starting in 1892, Smith worked as an assistant bookkeeper at Feeney & Co. Though assistant bookkeeper was his official title, he did many tasks throughout the market, including packing fish, and he started his day at 4am with the rest of the workers.

Smith would later say he was the only person in the New York State Assembly “who can talk the fish language,” and joked that his “cum laude” came from “F. F. M.,” the Fulton Fish Market, since his formal schooling was cut short by his father’s death. This working-class experience endeared him to voters who elected him to four terms as New York Governor.