The resurgence of public markets in the United States was the subject of an interesting post on the Good Magazine website recently, focusing on the history of public markets, their decline and recent resurgence. Once the place to go for fresh food, local commerce and socialization, public markets declined with the advent of refrigeration and the automobile.
As of late, the movement to eat locally and support local farmers has driven the revitalization of historic markets and been the impetus for new markets opening.
A new market is not always an automatic recipe for success, however. The Good article profiles Portland’s Public Market, which failed despite a massive investment and a large selection of vendors. After the market closed, however, a smaller group of vendors began a campaign to “save” the market, and reopened with limited hours near a local farmers market. PPS Senior Associate David O’Neil, interviewed for the piece, explained that a market “should suit its place,” and make sense in its surroundings. At its best, a market reflects the demographic it serves.
Recently, PPS has helped several existing markets create revitalization plans. Brooklyn’s Moore Street Market, located in the gentrifying neighborhood of East Williamsburg, now has a new management and operations plan, as well as a set of design guidelines, to help make it a community gathering place that will bring in more revenue for vendors. Detroit’s Eastern Market is undergoing renovations to ensure that fresh, healthy foods remain available to the surrounding community. And earlier this year, we completed a feasibility study for a new public market district in Boston, which will include the historic Haymarket.