The food hall trend seems to be here to stay. With openings left and right, the new standard has been set. But, what about the originals? Have we forgotten the old standbys that had nuanced concepts much ahead of their times? In this post, we pay homage to the markets around the country that paved the way for today’s movement.
FRENCH MARKET DISTRICT, NEW ORLEANS
Before there were terms like “foodie” and “yelp”, society’s biggest concerns were avoiding food spoilage. In the late 1700’s that wasn’t an easy feat. In an effort to preserve and protect the goods entering the New Orleans port, the Spaniards began constructing a market on the riverfront in 1779. Unfortunately, this original market place fell victim to the New Orleans fire of 1788 and its replacement was destroyed in 1812 by a hurricane. Despite numerous fires and hurricanes, some of the buildings that comprise the French Market date back to 1813 and have been refurbished over the years. Today, the district encompasses six blocks in the historic French Quarter and is home to some of our favorite New Orleans’ institutions like Café Du Monde and Loretta’s along with a vibrant farmer’s market and local, artisan vendors.
PIKE PLACE MARKET, SEATTLE
Sometimes food halls have humble beginnings. Take for instance Pike Place Market. It was created in 1907 to provide farmers a place to sell goods directly to consumers, essentially to cut out the middleman. Seattle City Councilman, Thomas Revelle, the instigator behind the market, wanted a place for families to come together and stated, “The Market is yours. I dedicate it to you and may it prove of benefit to you and your children. It is for you to protect, defend, and uphold and it is for you to see that those who occupy it treat you fairly…” After struggling through The Great Depression, World War I, and World War II, the building was in a state dispair. Local architect Victor Steinbreuck created the “Save The Market” campaign which led the 17-acre area to be categorized as a historic district in 1971. More than 100 years later, the market continues to be a place of pride for the city and features some of the best local produce, goods, and provisions the greater Seattle area has to offer.
GRAND CENTRAL MARKET, LOS ANGELES
If there is one food hall that has stood the test of time, it’s Grand Central Market. Originally opening its doors in 1917, the market has had to adapt to the times through “depressions, repressions, and redevelopment.” In 1984, the market was purchased by Ira Yellin, a developer that envisioned the market as a place for California’s entrepreneurs and chefs to feature the bounty of the state. It went though a revitalization in 2012 in an attempt to be more relevant in the foodie revolution. Today, the market features more than 35 vendors with flavors and cuisines representative of the diverse population of LA.
FANEUIL HALL MARKETPLACE, BOSTON
The story behind Faneuil Hall, known to locals as Quincy Market, showcases Bostonians’ love of their city. Once the location of the Boston Tea Party rebellion – the famous one from your history class – the market now features more than 70 retailers and 40 tenants. Located in the heart of Downtown, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace was created in 1976 after the city was given a grant to restore the four historic buildings that date back to the 1800s. If you consider yourself a history buff, you’ll be excited to learn that the buildings sit in the middle of the Freedom Trail, a red-lined route highlighting the significant sites around Boston related to the American Revolution.
CHELSEA MARKET, NEW YORK CITY
Located in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, Chelsea Market has become a favorite for tourists and locals alike. The mixed-use development opened its doors in 1997, but was originally the home to the National Biscuit Company, better known to most as Nabisco (you know, the Oreo investors). Purchased as a foreclosure property in 1990 by developer, Irwin B. Cohen, he sold the company to Jamestown Properties in 2003. If you’re from Atlanta, you may notice some similarities from Chelsea Market; Jamestown is the developer behind Westside Provisions District and Ponce City Market. Currently, the market houses 58 vendors and welcomes more than six million national and international tourists each year.
*UPDATE: As of February, Chelsea Market was purchased by Google for $2 billion with its future hanging in the balance.
**UPDATED May 23, 2018 to include New Orleans’ French Market.