Essex Street Market

Art & Culture | Bars | History | Restaurants

A Food Shopping Hotspot that Originated with Pushcarts in 1818

Essex Street Market Lower East Side




About Essex Street Market

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • What started in 1818 as a little food stall under a shed on Essex Street became a vibrant, bustling open-air market of pushcarts peddling all sorts of foods and wares.
  • By the early 1900s, this haphazard unofficial marketplace was world-renowned.  Rich, poor, young, old, and all ethnicities came here to shop.
  • By the late 1930s, there were close to 5000 licensed pushcart peddlers which caused crazy traffic and a sanitation nightmare.
  • New York’s beloved Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia fought to get the carts off the street, which resulted in the birth of the official city-owned Essex Street Retail Market.
  • Opened on January 9, 1940, the new market held a whopping 475 vendors who paid $4.75 per week in rent for their stall.

Essex Street Market Essex Street Market – Courtesy of NYPL

  • In the 1990s, the city renovated the market, which stood at 120 Essex Street until May 2019, when it reopened as the anchor tenant of SHoP Architect’s new Essex Crossing Development, the Lower East Side’s new 400,000 sq ft of residential, retail and office space.
  • Now located at 88 Essex Street, the market is still city-owned is three times its former size and, complete with a test kitchen for classes and community events, is the largest public market in New York City!
  • Inside, near the test kitchen, you’ll find a 720-foot art mural designed by Brooklyn based children’s book artist and author Aaron Meshon.
  • If you were a fan of the old market, you’ll be happy to learn most of the vendors made the move to the new market.
  • Some of our favorite spots: Heros and Villains for sandwiches, Shopsins for breakfast, Eat Gai for Thai chicken & rice, and, if you’re vegan, Riverdel has a great selection of vegan cheese and made to order sandwiches.

By: Lucie Levine and Christi Scofield
Photography by:

Historical Photos Courtesty of




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