The outside of a market that's painted colorfully with designs that include painted vegetables, fruit, and geometric shapes

News Press / Public Markets

Press Release: Turnstile Tours Launches New Weekly Tour of Essex Street Market Sept. 25

Turnstile Tours & Essex Street Market Vendors Association launch weekly 90-minute tasting tours of the market, every Sunday beginning September 25

Tours include 5–7 tastings and opportunities to meet the community of vendors and learn about the rich history of this Lower East Side institution

September 15, 2016, New York, NY — Weekly guided tours are coming to the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market later this month. New York City-based tour company Turnstile Tours is working with the Essex Street Market Vendors Association (ESMVA) to offer 90-minute market tours every Sunday at 11:30am. While many neighborhood walking tours around the Lower East Side make brief stops at the market, this tour gives visitors an in-depth look at this neighborhood institution.

The tours will shine a spotlight on the market’s rich history and diverse lineup of vendors, and help raise its public profile as the vendors prepare to move across Delancey Street to a new facility inside the Essex Crossing development, slated to open in 2018.

Tour tickets are $48 per person, with discounts available for seniors (65+) and children (11 and under), and all tastings are included. Tickets can be purchased in advance at, and each tour is limited to 16 people to allow for an intimate, engaging experience. Tours for private groups will also be available upon request.

The tour will include 5-7 tastings from food vendors in the market. Visitors will have the opportunity to try some of the American farmstead cheeses of Saxelby Cheesemongers, fresh-baked rolls from Pain d’Avignon, charcuterie from Formaggio Essex, coffee from Porto Rico Importing, tacos from Puebla Mexican Food, and bagels from Davidovich Bakery, among many others. As visitors taste the fare, they’ll also have the chance to chat with the vendors and hear the stories of their businesses, some of which have been in the market for decades.

“Most people aren’t aware that New York City even has public markets,” said Cindy VandenBosch, president and founder of Turnstile Tours. “They have been – and continue to be – a really valuable resource for small businesses to get started and grow. The Essex Street Market is a really amazing place in which to examine the city’s food system, past and present, through the stories of individual culinary entrepreneurs.”

The tours will also include a closer look at the market’s history, and the team at Turnstile Tours has been interviewing long-time vendors and digging into archives around the city. Opened in 1940, the market was built as part of a city-wide network of retail and wholesale food markets devised by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Originally spanning three blocks, from Stanton Street to Broome Street, and made up of four buildings with a staggering 475 vendor stalls, the market was once the shopping destination for thousands of shoppers daily.

During World War II, the market hosted workshops on canning fruits and vegetables, and an information kiosk offered advice on rationing and meal planning in Italian, Yiddish, Spanish, and Polish, and English. It was also once home to a kosher cooking school, and a coveted silver cup was awarded to the stall with the most attractive display.

Though now consolidated into one building on Essex Street between Delancey Street and Rivington Street, the market still boasts 25 vendors selling everything from produce and meat to baked goods and prepared foods. The market continues to grow, adding new vendors including Osaka Grub, Top Hops To Go, and Arancini Brothers, and the outside of the market recently received a facelift, in the form of a brightly-colored mural by artist Gera Lozano.

Turnstile Tours has a long-standing connection to New York City’s public markets. In the fall of 2015, Turnstile Tours worked with the ESMVA and NYCEDC to offer a series of Friday evening tasting tours of the Essex Street Market, and since 2011, Cindy VandenBosch has been leading tours of Brooklyn’s Moore Street Market, another La Guardia-era market that is a vital part of the Spanish-speaking communities in Williamsburg and Bushwick.

“Turnstile Tours offers a unique, behind-the-scenes view of the REAL New York,” said ESMVA Chair Anne Saxelby. “Whether it’s New York’s historic public markets, or the Brooklyn Navy Yard, co-owners Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson not only know their history, they know the people behind the businesses they visit on their tours. You won’t find a better, or more inspired tour in the city.”

“Andrew and Cindy’s enthusiasm is infectious, and we at the Essex Street Market are honored to be featured in Turnstile’s offerings,” she added.

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Turnstile Tours creates and operates unique, rigorously-researched, engaging tours and public programs in partnership with non-profit organizations and cultural institutions that bring together out-of-town visitors, community residents, and people of all ages and abilities. Turnstile is a Certified B-Corporation and a New York State-registered Benefit Corporation, and has committed to contribute at least 5% of all ticket sales to designated non-profit partners. Current programs include several different theme-based public tours exploring the past and present of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, public tours of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and Food Cart Tours exploring the street food scene in Manhattan’s Financial District and Midtown, in addition to public market tours. More information can be found here.

Essex Street Market Vendors Association’s (ESMVA) mission is to support the collective vendor community at Essex Street Market by developing dynamic programming that promotes market growth. The association was founded to give vendors a voice in their future, and has since evolved to form close partnerships with the Lower East Side Partnership and New York City Economic Development Corporation. Together these organizations have worked together to ensure that Essex Street Market remains a vibrant and accessible institution for Lower East Side residents. ESMVA coordinates free community programs including a nighttime talk series, live music at the market, cooking demonstrations, and more which can be found here.