One of New York’s most endangered cultural landmarks is the Essex Street Market.
In the 1930s, during Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s administration, a number of indoor retail markets were created to reduce pushcart vendor traffic on narrow city streets.
The Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side opened in 1940, with mostly Jewish and Italian vendors, following the demographics of the neighborhood. As the neighborhood changed, so did the Market.
Since then, the presence of the Essex Street Market has remained a constant in an evolving neighborhood. Today it has over 20 tenants, and is filled with various bodegas, restaurants, fruit and vegetable stands, fresh fish stalls, a botanica, cheese shops, and other excellent treats. Because of the recent gentrification of the surrounding area, the Market has had some fancier shops come in too.
Batista Grocery, which has been there for 18 years, and whose tiny aisles are stuffed with hard-to-find Dominican goods is my favorite shop, although Saxelby Cheesemongers and the Porto Rico Importing Co. Coffee run a close second and third (respectively).
Recently, there’s been an effort by the community board to move and redesign the Market. Many of the Market’s residents have been shutting down and moving out altogether.
If you have the chance, check out the Market while it still exists!
Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street