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flea-marqueta-harlem-untappedFlea Marqueta welcomes visitors at 116th St. and Park Ave at its grand opening Sunday. 

Half a century ago, the area under the Metro North tracks in Harlem would be a bustle of activity as residents congregated to do their weekly shopping in the famed La Marqueta. On Sunday, the grand opening of Flea Marqueta (which we previewed last week) hinted at the activity to come each weekend under the tracks this summer.

There crowd was small when we visited a little after noon on Sunday, and lacked the frenzy and energy that’s present at Smorgasburg or New Amsterdam Market. But the close-knit community feel that sometimes missing from bigger markets was palpable here. 

flea-marqueta-welcome-sign-harlem-untappedThe theme of the market is an intimate, fun atmosphere. 

The space was decorated with palm trees from the Urban Garden Center and chalk art on the ground. A DJ livened up the atmosphere with upbeat Latin and hip-hop tunes, and later in the afternoon, there was a performance by a local Latin dance group.

As promised, Flea Marqueta was indeed a grassroots market. Most of the vendors are local producers without storefronts, and they spend the week at other markets and events around the city. They’re drawn to Flea Marqueta for its affordability and friendly community. There were vendors selling jewelry, crafts, clothes and handmade beauty products, and a henna artist.

mwimbaji-earth-jewelry-flea-marqueta-harlem-untappedWood and gold handmade jewelry from Mwimbaji Earth Jewelry.

flea-marqueta-chicken-empanada-tanto-sabor-untappedHomemade Dominican chicken empanadas from Tanto Sabor.

The flavors of Harlem were on display as well. Food offerings included Brooklyn Organic Coffee & Tea Truck, Jamaican sandwiches from Mighty Meaty, Dominican empanadas from Tanto Sabor, exotic produce and homemade vegan cookies.

mighty-meaty-untapped-flea-marqueta-jamaicanCurry chicken and kale Jamaican sandwich from Mighty Meaty. 

While the market’s soft opening was on the small side, the summer looks promising. The space can fit up to 50 vendors, and the market organizer Dimitri Gatanas said he’s receiving more inquiries about spots each day. Flea Marqueta will run each Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Next week’s edition will feature a Stop ‘N’ Swap, hosted by GrowNYC, in which market-goers can trade their used items with each other. If last Sunday was any indication, La Marqueta’s revival will truly be a community effort, with some help from outside visitors as well.

flea-marqueta-harlem-untapped-vendorA vendor offers glassware and other crafts. 

Get in touch with the author @catku.

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