French Market

French Quarter
New Orleans, LA

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

New Orleans once had markets in nearly every neighborhood; this place, with the longest and most colorful history, is the last in operation.

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Why It Works

New Orleans' city streets flow freely around the market, comprised of a series of shed-like structures in the center of the street and open air vendors, running for two city blocks. Endowed with one of the most storied histories of any American market, the French Market has adapted constantly to the changing times. New Orleans has invested in promoting the market as a tourist attraction, which is an important part of the economy of this exciting American city.

History & Background

Trading in New Orleans began over 200 years ago when the Indians traded on the high ground near the present-day market. The French colonists held their market outdoors on the levee; the Spanish built the first structures on the site of the present day market to provide sanitary conditions for selling meat. The earliest market building was erected in 1813. Over the years some of the open sheds have been enclosed and now house cafes and restaurants. New Orleans had public markets in virtually every neighborhood in the city. The French Market is the only remaining market in operation. In the 1930's the market was largely reconstructed and a new fruit and vegetable market, a new wholesale fish market and a shed for farmers were added.

Today, the traditional uses of the market are waning and the market is becoming more and more of a tourist destination. Tee shirts and eelskin wallet vendors outnumber farmers and butchers, but the market remains a vital link to the proud history of New Orleans.

Contact Info:

French Market: 504-522-2621

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