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Until the 1950s, markets have been a primary central component of life in NYC. New York was a world-class harbor and a hub for wholesale food supplies for the entire country. New York's ethnic communities could provide and support sales for specialty fruits and vegetables, and the sheer volume consumed by New Yorkers made markets big business. Markets also established the center for ethnic communities, creating a central area of common interest. Pushcart markets surrounded indoor markets, and grew on the sidewalks in neighborhoods where markets were not yet established, sometimes bettering official markets in price and quality (see Pushcarts Exhibit in "Retail" section). Pushcart markets had limited overhead for vendors, provided they didn't have to pay rent or bribes to store owners to get their space. And although pushcarts crowded already congested sidewalks, most urban neighborhoods depended on them for much of their shopping (link to illustrations below).

Markets In Manhattan
In 1900, the Washington Market was in its 88th year and was the largest market in North America, stretching about a dozen blocks around Washington, Fulton and Vesey Streets. On the site of what is now the World Trade Center, hundreds of independent vendors sold fruits, vegetables, specialty foods, wild game and livestock of all kinds. The market was fully renovated in 1915, complete with electricity, gas, hot and cold water, sewer,
telephone, and refrigeration. Annual trade for the market was then estimated at $5 million (1915 dollars), and trade to hotels and restaurants alone fed an estimated one million people a day. Burned, moved and rebuilt several times by 1900, the indoor market was torn down permanently in 1957. Inexpensive fresh produce and food stalls were concentrated in the area until it was allocated for development by the Port of Authority of New York. (See "Washington Market" on the LINKS page for a 1930's photograph.)

The Fulton Market was established as a general market in 1822. As buying and traffic patterns changed, produce and food stalls moved to Hudson St. and the Fulton Market was rebuilt and dedicated to fish vendors. The Fulton Fish Market, still one of the largest in the nation, operates from about midnight to 9am as a major wholesale market for North Atlantic catches. (See also page for Fishing/Oysters in Manhattan for Oyster markets.)

11th Street / Hudson Markets housed the produce vendors that abandoned the Fulton Market as it migrated to fish in the late 1800s.

In the early 1880s the city created a farmers' market, later named the Gansevoort Market and the New West Washington Market, a wholesale poultry market around West St. and 10th Ave.

Two major wholesale / retail markets served Brooklyn and Queens: The Jamaica Farmers' Market, in Jamaica Queens, and the Wallabout Market, which was located in what is now the Brooklyn Navy Yard on the East River. Later Hunt's point in the Bronx became a major wholesale market for the city. See photo next page.

Ethnic retail stores and markets were common in their respective enclaves in all of the five boroughs (see Introduction for specialized locations). (See also "Cheese Store" and "Zito's" on LINKS page.)

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