Rochester Public Market

280 North Union Street
Rochester, NY

Submitted by: james farr

Rochester's downtown Public Market, featuring a number of wholesale meat, produce and cut-flower businesses.

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Why It Works

The Rochester Public Market is situated on nine acres in the heart of the city, on the same site since 1905. Operated by the City, the market is fully leased and 100% supported by its revenues, attracting over 1.5 million shoppers annually. It's open year round and still features a number of wholesale meat, produce and cut-flower buisnesses, which keep it fairly active even on non-market days.

What Makes Rochester Public Market a Great Place?

The site sits in the middle of a re-emerging residental neighborhood on one flank, and a former warehouse district on another. The warehouse spaces are being redeveloped privately as mixed use retail and other. The site has vehicular access from three streets as well as additional pedestrian links to the surrounding area. Although the recent renovations added over 140 parking spaces, congestion in the space has been both a problem and an asset since the days of the horse drawn wagons selling their wares. Two local bus routes also service the site. The site is on a slight rise and the new gateways are visible from the adjoining main streets. The circulation pattern within the market can best be described as organized chaos. Attempts to improve this have been largely futile.

The space is clean but has the earthy quality of a marketplace. Vehicles and pedestrians share the space, amazingly without too much conflict. There is security on site, but most people feel safe just due to the amount of activity and vitality.

The market is the most diverse place is western New York. Open to the public Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, thousands shop, eat socialize and people watch. Urbanites, suburbanites, natives, and recent imigrants all interact without issue. On a Saturday it is not unusaul to have over 30,000 people pass through, ranging from children to seniors and speakers of many different languages.

The market is a gathering place, a spot for politicians to campaign, a family shopping tradition, a destination and part of the weekly routine. The visitors reflect the ethnicity of the community.

History & Background

The market began as strictly a wholesale distribution point and was home to a number of major wholesale produce and grocery distribution businesses. Public outcry during a period of inflation after World War I resulted in the market being open to the public for retail sales. The market has survived several attempts to close it and relocate it. The market recently received a $3.5 million face lift, and contains about 230 outside covered vending spaces as well as 68 heated indoor spaces.

Contact Info:

Jim Farr: 585-428-6866

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