Lancaster’s Central Market – A Jewel at the Center of It All
October 7, 2009 Leave a comment
The American Planning Association (APA) recently named Lancaster’s Central Market as one of American’s ten great public spaces. If you have never been to ‘Market’, you’re missing out on an experience that is uniquely a Lancaster landmark and tradition.
The APA’s Great Places’ program celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Locations are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow. In short, they are considered enjoyable, safe, and desirable and places where people not only want to visit; but to live and work every day. They are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.
The brick Central Market building is located downtown adjacent to Penn Square, between West King and West Grant Streets.
The current Romanesque Revival building features twin 72-foot-tall towers on the south corners. It was designed by Philadelphia architect James H. Warner and erected in 1889. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the Victorian market house is resplendent in architectural detail including Spanish tiling finished off with terra cotta finials, voussoir arches, pilasters, corbelling, dormers and a hipped and gabled roof system supported with timber-framed beams and joinery.
The market is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Here are some interesting facts regarding Central Market:
- After the town’s founding, the marketplace functioned as an open air market until 1757 when first market house constructed; current building erected in 1889
- Present market house designed by English-born architect James H. Warner; renown for his experience in church architecture and construction of large roofs; designed projects in Harrisburg and Reading
- The 20,540 square-foot, brick market sits at the historic center of Lancaster, adjacent to Penn Square, the old City Hall, city’s first skyscraper, and other historic buildings
Public Support for Central Market
- Market had competition for much of its history including seasonal curb markets (discontinued in 1927) and privately owned market houses (last one closed in 1985)
- Competition still remains from suburban supermarket chains; Central Market remains operational through city ownership and subsidies
- Friends of Central Market founded as nonprofit organization in 1997; volunteer effort by customers to raise awareness about market and ensure it continues to serve a public purpose; group has 30 volunteers and 200 members
- Friends group a key player in the “buy fresh, buy local” campaign designed to increase the market’s visibility and customer base.
Unique merchandise, local customers
- Majority of vendors sell locally grown or prepared foods and non-food items; regional food specialties include Pennsylvania Dutch sausage, scrapple, headcheese, chowchow, bread, butter pickles
- Downtown location makes market easily accessible; thousands of residents live within one-half mile; six bus routes have stops within two blocks
- 3,000 customers patronize market each week; 82 percent of customers live or work in Lancaster; 33 percent of customers live in same zip code area as market
- Central Market is not only a place to buy local food and produce, but is also a place to meet friends and socialize; during warm months, outdoor furniture, canvas umbrellas, and hanging flower baskets strengthen Central Market setting as place to socialize
- Currently has 57 vendors who are socially and culturally diverse — Amish, Mennonite, Latino, African, Asian, German, Greek, and others.
Information for this blog post was obtained from: “Great Places.” American Planning Association. 07 Oct. 2009. Web. 07 Oct. 2009. http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/spaces/2009/index.htm#CM.