NYC Streets


Until the 1840s nearly all of the city's food was sold through public markets. They continued to play a major role in New York's food supply until the widespread use of commercial refrigeration around the turn of the last century. The earliest markets were located along the shore, where they could be supplied by farmers' market boats (see Wharves, Piers and Slips). As the city grew, the markets were housed in substantial buildings, which were also the business addresses of the merchants who leased stalls there. Since the markets were centers of community life, they also determined the locations of other public facilities, hence the Jefferson Market Courthouse and the the Tompkins Market Armory. There was a revival of interest in public retail markets around 1914 in reaction to alleged profiteering by food wholesalers, and again during the LaGuardia administration to supplant "squalid and unsanitary" outdoor pushcart markets. Parts of two of the La Guardia-era markets are still in use. Most of our information on early markets is from Thomas F. De Voe's The Market Book, published in 1862. Information on more recent markets is based on articles in the New York Times Archives and available reports of the city's now-defunct Department of Public Markets.

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