2. A former Market building fell into the river

Black and white photo of the Fulton Fish Market in the 1930s with workers and people walking in front of it on the cobblestone streets and a few skyscrapers in the background
Photograph from New York Public Library

At its height, the Fulton Fish Market stretched over “six city blocks bounded by South and Water Streets on the east and west and Fulton and Dover Streets to the north and south,” write Rees. Throughout its history, it occupied many different buildings in the area until a major move to a new, modernized facility at Hunts Point in the Bronx in 2005. The Fulton Market’s original location opened in 1822. It was bounded by Water Street and South Street to the north and south, and Beekman Street and Fulton Street to the East and West. In 1831, the fish business had grown so large that some vendors moved into a new building between Piers 17 and 18 on the East River. While retail fish sellers remained in the main market building, wholesalers began to take occupy shed structures along the river.

In 1869, the Fish Market moved into its first dedicated, permanent building between South Street and the river. The building was constructed by the Fulton Market Fishmongers Association, an organization of the largest fish sellers. The new building, designed specifically for their wholesale operations, was a two-story wooden structure with a cupola on top. There were seventeen fish stalls on the first floor and offices, storage space, and a reading library on the second. The original 1822 market building was struck by fire in 1878 and replaced in 1883, by the brick building pictured above. This building was demolished in the 1950s and replaced with the 1983 Fulton Market mall we have today.

New Market Bulding
The 1939 New Market Building

In 1907, another new building was constructed, known as the Tin Building (even though it was made of steel). Sitting between Piers 17 and 18, the building’s position right on the water allowed for boats to pull directly up to it. Dealers who didn’t get space in the Tin Building banded together to build their own in 1909. Both buildings were doomed. The 1909 building fell into the river in 1936 when a piling gave way. There were rumors that a fishing boat piloted by a drunk captain crashed into the piling. Luckily, there were no casualties as the incident happened outside of business hours. The 1907 Tin Building was set on fire by arsonists in 1995. In 1939, at the behest of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, The New Market Building was constructed. LaGuardia was gifted a 300-pound halibut at the opening ceremony. This building now sits abandoned and is slated for demolition.