Food and lonely figures at old Washington Market

It’s hard to imagine that some of the wide, quiet, clean streets of today’s Tribeca once formed a loud, stinking, open-air food hub called Washington Market.

Opened in 1812, Washington Market boomed, with more than 500 vendors and 4,000 wagons crisscrossing the food stalls and tenement-fronted alleys in the 1880s.

The market continued to attract buyers, sellers (and vermin, among other unpleasant things) through the 20th century, as artist David Burliuk reveals in this 1931 painting.

“The work is thought to depict Reade Street and the Washington Market area of Tribeca; the view is towards the Morse building which was designated a New York City landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Committee in 2006,” states Art Knowledge News, in an article on the painting going up for auction. (Bids were estimated to start at $40,000.)

“The market itself was razed in the 1970s, and a small park by its name is all that remains of what was once New York’s principal produce market.

Crossing the street on the right, is that a cat or a rat?

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10 Responses to “Food and lonely figures at old Washington Market”

  1. roxanne Says:

    I went to this market with my father…loved it…so exciting

  2. Lisa Garber Says:

    It’s clearly a cat. Pointed ears, long legs, thick tail.

  3. Clark Whelton Says:

    And right next door to Radio Row.

  4. Alex Says:

    David Burliuk (Давид Бурлюк) please correct the spelling of the painter’s name.

  5. David H Lippman Says:

    Crossing the street is a cat. Long after the market was whacked to make way for the World Trade Center, some of the unique lampposts still stood guard over the empty intersections. Among the buildings in the area was a brownstone whose owners refused to sell out. It hung on long enough for Roseanne Barr to use it in the movie “She-Devil,” where it is an employment agency for unloved women.

  6. The Hatching Cat (@HatchingCatNYC) Says:

    Of course it must be a cat!

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