Public markets systems in North America are both agile and fragile. When the pandemic caused widespread stay-at-home orders and business closures, many markets across the continent stayed open, continuing to safely provide fresh and healthy food to residents as supply chains were strained and serve as an economic lifeline to farmers and other producers. This contribution to the resilience of our communities often took place despite limited, uncoordinated support from all levels of government.
It was in this extreme context that the Market Cities Program at Project for Public Spaces undertook this research effort to kickstart citywide market strategies in three North American cities—Seattle, Washington, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and Toronto, Ontario, in Canada. With support from The Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Foundation, Project for Public Spaces provided each city with pro bono technical assistance and a small planning grant to audit each city’s existing market system, identify challenges and opportunities, and convene a broad group of stakeholders to advocate for new policy and governance structures.
Along the way, Project for Public Spaces also partnered with architecture and planning firm Arup to provided technical assistance in adapting to new pandemic public health guidelines, helped local partners create new relationships with like-minded organizations, and identify gaps in market access, as well as outlier markets that have struck upon a unique approach to addressing inequity.
The resulting report, Toward Market Cities: Lessons on Supporting Public Market Systems from Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Toronto, brings together new data, analysis, and recommendations about public market systems across North America.
Survey Development & Analysis