The Ninth Street Market is one of the nation’s oldest open-air markets, established around the turn of the 20th century by Italian immigrants who sold fruits, vegetables, and meats from carts and stands. The early commercial activities of the market were shaped by the factory life that surrounded the market.
Although the market was the social and commercial heart of the Italian community, it always reflected the larger ethnic mix of the neighborhood. The early market was populated by Jewish vendors who specialized in fabrics and household items. Today’s market is home to a variety of businesses that reflect the changing ethnic composition of the neighborhood. It maintains many of the same qualities of the early market and remains an important commercial and social fixture in South Philadelphia. On Saturdays, Ninth Street comes alive as street vendors hawk their wares and shoppers bargain for fresh produce.
This lesson is part of a suite of lesson plans associated with PhilaPlace, that explores the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.