10. The Market Started as a Result of Streets Over Crowded by Pushcarts
In the late 19th-century through the early 20th-century, New York City experienced a major influx of immigrants and many settled in the Lower East Side. As a means of making a living, many immigrants started pushcart businesses where they would sell goods on the streets. At one time there were below 14th Street and east of Broadway. Clusters of pushcarts gathered together to form outdoor markets. The street vendors provided an affordable place for neighbors to buy home goods and groceries.
During the 1930s, The Great Depression caused an intense rise in the number of pushcarts crowding the streets as jobless New Yorkers turn to peddling wares. The overcrowded streets posed many hazards since emergency vehicles couldn’t get through congestion and food safety was a concern. In 1934 Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia proposed a plan that would take pushcart vendors off the streets and into indoor markets with stalls. Essex Street Market became New York City’s fourth public market when it opened in 1940 with 475 stalls, atop land that had been cleared to make way for the new IND subway.
Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the Lower East Side and check out photos of the original Essex Street Market before it closed!