By David K. O’Neil
All of these markets started as outdoor, “temporary” markets and evolved to become permanent places of buying and selling and socializing.
Charleston City Market, Charleston SC (est’d 1807)
Nowhere else in America has a group of classic market sheds stood as openly and prominently as in Charleston. Built on filled-in riverbed, the five sheds were designed and have proven to withstand floods, wars, epidemics and hurricanes. The guardian “headhouse” of the market–a cannon-scarred replica of the Temple of the Wingless Victory on the Acropolis–hearkens back to markets’ ancient connection to both mercantilism and spirituality.
Fayetteville Market, Fayetteville NC (est’d 1832)
This resplendent market is the focal point of Fayetteville, built on the site of the old state house where the Constitution of the United States was ratified. No longer used for either purpose (it has recently been a library and art museum) it is one of the last American examples of an architectural archetype that combined a market with city government headquarters.
Kansas City Market, Kansas City MO (est’d 1857)
Built originally for wholesale trade, the City Market was repositioned in the late 1980s as a retail destination and centerpiece of renewal for an eclectic market district that combines old-time cold storage and produce commission houses with retrofitted housing, restaurants and a museum. The market stalls and adjacent shops attract tens of thousands during the daytime for local farm produce, ethnic specialties and barbecue, and the grand market courtyard often hosts evening concerts.
Pike Place Market, Seattle WA (est’d 1907)
One of the most beloved and visited market districts in America was almost torn down in the name of “urban renewal” during the 1970s–but lo and behold, thanks to a band of citizen activists, Pike Place Market still graces the upper reaches of Puget Sound. Not only did it survive, it flourished as an iconic place of the people.
Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, Montgomery MD (est’d 1932)
Born of necessity in the Depression, this 105′ x 45′ white clapboard market house has produced consistent profits for its innovative coop members and reliably provided “all the products of the farm, the home and the garden” to residents in this suburb of Washington, DC. Surrounded by department stores and office buildings, the women (and men, these days) have refused lucrative offers to sell. They loyally open for business every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.