South 9th Street between Wharton and Christian
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
The legendary food and wares at this six-block Italian stronghold are now complemented by goods from Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean vendors.
This indoor/outdoor market, once a stronghold of the Italian community, is of course famous for old-world specialties: meats, cheeses, spices, live poultry, kitchenware, clothing, fish and dry goods. The produce is mostly sold on the street, where vendors will light bonfires in old oil drums to keep warm (and to burn trash) in the colder weather. The market is especially colorful and the exotic flavor is even more so with the influx of new vendors from Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Korea.
History & Background
The Italian Market, or 9th Street Market as it is sometimes called, traces its history back to the early 20th century. Originally, some of the old people on the street began selling in front of their houses. This market tradition evolved into the present day street market where vendors still hawk their wares from the sidewalk and all of the first floors of the houses are now retail stores. This market has no overall ownership; all individual buildings are privately owned. A merchant's association tries to take a leadership role, but the market is generally chaotic - which is part of its appeal. Rents vary widely, and many buildings are owner-occupied.
Chef's Tour of the Italian Market: 215-772-0739