Visiting the 1884 original Gansevoort Market

Gansevoort Street sure looked a lot different in 1884, the year the original Gansevoort Market made its official debut. This photo was taken a little later, dating to 1907.


Opened after Washington Market in today’s Tribeca became too crowded, Gansevoort Market was an open-air produce market bound by Gansevoort, Little West 12th, West, and Greenwich Streets.

In other words, the heart of today’s ultra-trendy Meatpacking District.


The market was a big deal at the time; Harper’s Weekly even wrote about it in 1888.

“During the dark hours of early morning, as hundreds of wagons of all descriptions converge upon the market regions, pandemonium reigns as traffic chokes the thoroughfares for blocks around,” an article stated.

Gansevoortmarket1890sOver the next decade, the city built the West Washington Market, for dairy farmers and meat sellers. The WPA Guide to New York City described the scene this way in 1939.

“Activities begin at 4 a.m. Farmers in overalls and mud-caked shoes stand in trucks, shouting their wares. Commission merchants, pushcart vendors, and restaurant buyers trudge warily from one stand to another, digging arms into baskets of fruits or vegetables to ascertain quality.”


“Trucks move continually in and out among the piled crates of tomatoes, beans, cabbages, lettuce, and other greens in the street,” the Guide continues.

Gansevoortmarketkings1893“Hungry derelicts wander about in the hope of picking up a stray vegetable dropped from some truck, while patient nuns wait to receive leftover, unsalable goods for distribution among the destitute.”

Over the decades, produce moved out to the more accessible Hunts Point in the Bronx, and meat purveyors moved in.

West Washington Market burned down in a 1954 fire. The Gansevoort Meat Market building put up by the city in the 1940s remained in use.


That is, until the Meatpacking District, as it was now known, emptied of meatpackers and began hosting fashion designers and faux French restaurants.

Today Gansevoort Market lives on in a very 2015 incarnation—as a trendy food hall.

Top photo: Museum of the City of New York; second image:; third photo:; fourth photo: MCNY; fifth photo:]

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9 Responses to “Visiting the 1884 original Gansevoort Market”

  1. Riccardo Franchini Says:

  2. The globe and quill in the Meatpacking District | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Who would build the headquarters of a publishing company on far West 13th Street at the turn of the century—amid the warehouses and cold storage spaces of what was then the center of New York’s produce, meat, and dairy markets? […]

  3. Shopping for Christmas dinner in the 1870s city | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] and game as well, as seen in the 1878 illustration below—was one of New York’s biggest. Washington Market on the West Side, seen here in 1879, also supplied New Yorkers with fresh […]

  4. Harrison Street’s stunning 1820s row houses | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] residential area was now home to industry and commerce, with the bustling produce sellers of Washington Market a stone’s throw from Harrison […]

  5. A shadowy corner at the old Washington Market | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] in 1812, Washington Market boomed, with more than 500 vendors and 4,000 wagons crisscrossing the food stalls and […]

  6. Food and lonely figures at old Washington Market ⋆ New York city blog Says:

    […] in 1812, Washington Market boomed, with more than 500 vendors and 4,000 wagons crisscrossing the food stalls and […]

  7. Bill Jobson Says:

    The architecture in the postcard image intrigued me – and learned it was mis-labeled. It is actually the Wallabout Market in Brooklyn.

  8. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You are right, Bill, I just looked into it after seeing your comment. Here’s an image of Wallabout Market from the Brooklyn Historical Society that clearly resembles the postcard:

  9. Two men, an el train, and a produce market in a 1945 mystery painting | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] But could that curved track run farther up Ninth Avenue beside what’s still known as the Meatpacking District (above in 1938)—a 19th century wholesale market that by the 1940s primarily handled meat and poultry? The Belgian block street certainly look like today’s Little West 12th or Gansevoort Street. […]

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