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Eastern Market: A Popular Destination In The Heart Of Capitol Hill

1614 words - 7 pages

In the heart of Capitol Hill, you can find a unique public marketplace where residents and tourists can shop, taste a variety of foods, browse different works of art, and even add a unique touch to their wardrobes, all while experiencing some of the friendliest people not only from around the city, but from around the world. Eastern Market has been a popular destination for thousands of people all year long. From a college student, to a visitor, to a congressman’s wife, there is always something appealing to any type of eye and taste. Since it was established in 1873, the market has constantly demonstrated to have a strong sense of community around the Washington DC area. The friendly ...view middle of the document...

For this reason, its history, the experiences and people encountered there and its relevance to the city, makes Eastern Market the unofficial “town hall” of Capitol Hill.
While planning out the layout of the streets of Washington DC, Pierre L’Enfant, a French architect and engineer, designated several areas around the city to establish local markets. From this plan came the completion of Eastern Market in 1873 by a German born immigrant named Adolf Cluss. He also designed the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building that continues to be a key landmark in the National Mall. There were three farmers’ markets envisioned in the original plan for the city, in which Eastern Market is the only survivor even if it experienced a rebirth (Oman). In the early twentieth century, the population of Capitol Hill grew deliberately, pressuring Eastern Market to expand its premises in order to better assist its new sea of customers. Under the American architect, Snowden Ashford, the city’s office of Public Works decided to create a new addition of the market and in 1908, the Center and North Halls were established. From this point onward, the importance of Eastern Market escalated by being recognized as the unofficial “town center” of Capital Hill. “A remnant of old Washington, Eastern Market at 7thStreet and North Carolina Avenue SE, is more than a historic landmark to Capitol Hill residents. It’s a friendly emporium where children play hide and seek around the stalls while their mothers shop for fresh seafood, poultry, meat, fruit, vegetables and flowers” (Lee H2). This is how Elinor Lee described Eastern Market in her article, “A little Bit of Yesterday’s Washington”, published by The Washington Post on May 24th 1970, a century after the opening of Eastern Market. Lee also mentions one of Eastern Markets most popular vendors, Charles Glasgow, a native Washingtonian that has been in the seafood business, both wholesale and retail for about thirty years. He operates the Southern Maryland Seafood at Eastern Market along with his brother Francis since 1941. From an old vendor’s perspective, “Charles Glasgow believes it’s the “person to person” approach that accounts for Eastern Market’s popularity” (Lee H2). It is evident that Eastern Market was a great success not only for venders, but also for buyers since both profited from mutual agreements and satisfaction.
Into the beginning of the 21 century, life in the market continued to progress without any interruption until one spring day turned all of Eastern Market’s history around. Early in the morning on April 30th, 2007 the entire neighborhood woke up to the sound of sirens and the smell of smoke, while the market was burning up in flames. Great part of the building itself was damaged, especially South Hall since part of the roof collapsed on top of vendors’ merchandise. Until this day, the cause of the fire is still being debated, since the Washington DC Fire and Emergency Service Department determine its...

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