Celebrate Valentine’s Day as we share some of our favorite love stories from history from the places that we work. We will share long-distance love letters from World War II, milestone weddings in Prospect Park, workplace romances at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and people who found their loves in public markets. We will share artifacts, newspaper clippings, oral histories, and more from various archives, and we invite participants to share their own love stories and family histories in this Zoom meeting.
Public markets are one of the foundational institutions of urban life. The Project for Public Spaces defines public markets as indoor or outdoor markets that “operate in public space, serve locally owned and operated businesses, and have public goals.” They not only a place of commerce, or a tourist attraction, but a place for convening and community building that cuts across social, cultural, and economic strata. In many American cities, such spaces can be hard to find, which is why we cherish the truly great public markets that have survived. In this virtual program, we will survey some of our favorite public markets that we’ve had the chance to visit, what makes them great, and what are their “public goals,” from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Philadelphia to Flint, and even here in New York City.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, join us for this interactive virtual program that will include live visits with vendors at the Lower East Side’s Essex Market and Thanksgiving-themed trivia We will learn about the best places to get all the fixings for your Thanksgiving meal, and how different communities celebrate the holiday and infuse their own culture’s flavors and traditions into the holiday meal. We’ll also be joined by artists Theresa Loong and Laura Nova from Feed Me a Story who will share audio clips of vendors and shoppers from their project documenting Thanksgiving traditions in the market. We will also share how the market is supporting the local community and helping those in need during the holidays. This program is offered in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
During the pandemic, as many as two million New Yorkers are struggling with food insecurity, a longstanding challenge that has been exacerbated by the crisis. In this virtual program, we will be joined by Dr. Eliza Whiteman Kinsey, Associate Research Scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, who will provide historical perspective on food access in New York City and nationally.
In celebration of Lower East Side History Month, join us for a conversation with Theresa Loong, Laura Nova, and Sarah Kramer about Feed Me A Story’s video and audio documentation of Essex Market that explores what it means to be an American through questions like, “What is your favorite childhood food?” or “What was the first recipe you learned to cook?” We’ll be listening together to clips from their recently launched audio walk of the market, watching videos that feature stories and family recipes from vendors and customers alike, and inviting viewers to share the ingredients and dishes that spark their own stories and memories of family and community.
Friends Matthew Chappina and Jason Cruz first started slinging sandwiches at the food festival Smorgasburg. Inspired by classic NYC bodega sandwiches, they created Heros & Villains using fresh, high-quality ingredients and house-made sauces. The venture was such a success that they moved into a permanent location at the new Essex Market, where they use a nearby butcher for their meats and craft every sandwich from scratch. We’ll chat with Matthew about the inspiration of the business, what it’s like being part of the Essex Market community, and get to see him make their legendary fried chicken sandwich for us.
When Essex Street Market opened in 1940, it was heralded as a new era for commerce, as the city promised to clear the streets of pushcart peddlers and provide a clean, orderly space for shoppers. Many former street vendors set up shop in the new market’s 475 stalls, but New Yorkers lamented the loss of the pushcarts that had filled the streets of the Lower East Side for nearly a century. Together with the Tenement Museum, we’ll explore the evolution of the market itself and the stories of the vendors who made it their home. The history of the Essex Street Market and its businesses have always been a reflection of the immigration and migration to the Lower East Side and during this virtual visit, we’ll meet vendors of the past, and drop-in live to the new Essex Market to talk with its vendors of today.
On May 13, 2019, Essex Market moved from its 1940 building to a new home at Essex Crossing, opening a new chapter in the market’s history by adding 13 new vendors, a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, robust public seating, and tripling the market’s footprint. Despite the change in venue, Essex Market remains dedicated to its mission to serve the Lower East Side with fresh, affordable and high-quality food. On this virtual tour of the market, we will look back at the last year, which began with a flurry of excitement, but we enter Year Two with a completely different sense of “business as usual.” Learn about the historic move and get a first-hand look at how market vendors are adapting to the new state of affairs and keeping their businesses going. We’ll go live to the market with Community Manager Lauren Margolis, who will introduce us to some of the vendors and share the measures put in place so everyone can continue shopping safely.
You can find just about anything at the Essex Market, but you’ll only find one vegan cheese monger – Riverdel. With their display case filled with wheels and wedges of local and imported cheeses, it’s hard to believe that this is a meat- and dairy-free establishment. Join us for a chat and demonstration with owner and manager Micheala Grob, as we discuss all things vegan cheese, and learn about running a unique and growing business in one of NYC’s iconic public markets.
Take a deep dive into the history of New York City’s public markets, which have their origins in a vast food distribution system set up by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930’s. Once encompassing 10 retail markets and nearly as many wholesale facilities, today many of the historic buildings of this era remain, and these markets continue to offer affordable space for food entrepreneurs and fresh, high-quality food for shoppers throughout New York City.