Essex Street Market Kicks off Monthlong 75th Anniversary Celebration

Essex Street Market, 1939.

Essex Street Market 1939

All during the month of May, big happenings are on tap at the Essex Street Market, which is celebrating its 75 year anniversary on the Lower East Side. In the next few years, the 20 or so vendors in the historic facility will make the move across Delancey Street to a brand new building. But during the next 30 days, a series of events will give locals a chance to reconnect with a beloved neighborhood institution. The festivities are part of LES History Month.

It all starts on Friday, May 1 when vendors and customers are invited to share their memories by chalking on the sidewalk in front of the market (you should use the hashtag #LESstories, especially if you’re posting photos to Instagram or Twitter).

On May 30, there will be a block party from noon-5 p.m., featuring local chefs from restaurants such as Cafe Katja, Spur Tree and Schapiro’s. It will also include raffles, DJ’s, live music and (in a nod to the market’s origins) pushcarts!

There will be a discussion with vendors hosted by the Tenement Museum in the Cuchifritos Gallery  May 6 (RSVP required), a lecture from the LES History Project’s Eric Ferrara (RSVP required), a collaborative poetry event in the market May 9 and a brunch series sponsored by miLES. On May 16 and 17, local chefs will prepare multi-course meals using ingredients from the market.

Throughout the month, you’ll be able to check out a video storytelling project set up in the “visitor information” stall on the north end of the market, as well as exhibits from Artists Alliance and the LES Girls Club.

The celebration is being coordinated with the LES Business Improvement District in collaboration with the city’s Economic Development Corp., which operates the market. As we have reported, it’s been a tough year or two for the Essex Street Market. Three vendors recently closed their stalls, citing declining foot traffic. The 75th anniversary provides an opportunity to raise the market’s profile here in the neighborhood, as well as across the city.

The Essex Street Market opened Jan. 10, 1940 as part of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s campaign to get pushcart vendors off the streets. Although there were originally four market buildings stretching from Broome to Stanton streets, operations were consolidated into one building at 120 Essex St. many years ago. The southernmost building was demolished this past month in preparation for the Essex Crossing development project. All of them will eventually be torn down, although the current market facility will remain open for business until the new building debuts, hopefully in 2018.

To see a full program lineup for this month’s festivities, click here.