'Old-School' Food Shopping Feels New As U.S. Cities Revive Public Markets | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

'Old-School' Food Shopping Feels New As U.S. Cities Revive Public Markets

One hundred years ago, before Walmart and Whole Foods and Albertson's and Kroger, grocery shopping was a very different experience.

Many American city dwellers flocked to the indoor public markets — huge, high-ceilinged halls lined with vendors hawking everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to full-service meat and fish counters.

Some were centrally located markets, like Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. or West Side Market in Cleveland. Seattle's Pike Place Market, now 105-years-old, is still going strong. But smaller neighborhood public markets also thrived, as did roadside stands in the summer.

Over time, though, the brightly lit supermarket, with aisles of already packaged goods, emerged as a more convenient option for mid-century America's harried housewives. And in many cities, the old public markets were demolished.

But now there's a reversal, as urbanites and developers keen on fresh food and a more personable shopping experience rediscover the public markets and revive them. As we've reported, farmers markets are proliferating with impressive speed, and the old indoor markets are getting facelifts.

In Washington, D.C., the old Centre Market reopened this month as Union Market, featuring high-end vendors selling everything from homemade kimchee to smoked fish. In some towns, like Napa, Calif., are building indoor public markets from scratch.

"What you can see is that we're starting to move back to the market city model," says Brendan Crain, a spokesman for the Project for Public Spaces, which this month hosted the 8th International Public Markets Conference in Cleveland. "Supermarkets are not going away, but there's a lot more variety now."

Have a look at the slideshow for glimpse of public markets, then and now.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Snubs And Successes: 6 Lessons Learned From This Year's Emmy Nominations

HBO's Game of Thrones emerged as the most-nominated series with 19 nods for the Primetime Emmy Awards, but new series such as FX's Fargo and HBO's True Detective scored, too.
NPR

'Captain Pizza' Saves The Day, But Doesn't Save Himself A Slice

A pilot found himself hungry during a midflight delay. But instead of just buying a pizza for himself, he bought 50 pizzas for the entire Frontier Airlines plane.
NPR

Administration Officials Defend Funding Request To Stem Border Crisis

Obama has asked for $3.7 billion to deal with the southern border crisis. Officials say they have deported about 1,800 unaccompanied children a year. About 57,000 have crossed since last October.
NPR

A New Device Lets You Track Your Preschooler ... And Listen In

LG's KizON wristband lets you keep tabs on your child. But some experts say such devices send the wrong message about the world we live in. And the gadgets raise questions about kids' privacy rights.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.