A Time Travel Tour of Baltimore’s Public Markets

Richmond Market, formerly at the location of Howard and Read Streets

Hung over from the hustle of last minute holiday shopping? Langsdale Special Collections has an antidote: traveling through time to visit stores–in this case, Baltimore’s public markets–and simultaneously not doing any spending whatsoever.
Behold: the wonder of Historypin, which currently hosts the new Special Collections virtual exhibit “Baltimore City Markets” (Isn’t archival research magical?)

The exhibit features digitized images of Baltimore’s public markets, the oldest continuous public market system in the United States. All images are from various collections in our regional history archive, largely from the Thomas J. D’Alesandro papers, The Blakeslee Lane Photographs, and the Post Card Project at the University of Baltimore Collection. Baltimore’s markets have been around since the 1780s. Many have shuttered, like Belair Market, which was demolished to make way for Old Town Mall; and Richmond Market, where the University of Maryland Medical System now sits.  Six are still in business, and are worth an IRL visit: Avenue Market (formerly Lafayette Market), Lexington Market, Cross Street Market (its recently proposed redesign is a retro facade based on Cross Street Market’s look circa 1953), Hollins Market, Broadway Market and Northeast Market.

Once-Bustling Belair Market 

The main attraction for pairing an application like Historypin with historical photographs and ephemera is that it works with Google Maps to overlay the image on a contemporary location. By comparing the archival image with a municipal market’s current digs we’re not only reminded that the world around us has evolved, but that history stays with us, always. Oh, and if you have some spiffy archival images of any of the city markets of your own, you can add them to the collection on Historypin and make the exhibit that much more faboosh. Enjoy this historical tour, the holiday season, and 2018, too!

One Reply to “A Time Travel Tour of Baltimore’s Public Markets”

  1. Thank you for remembering the markets. I grew up as a child of Belair Market, my grandfather and father ran a meat stall there for decades. Many of my best memories, as well as my most Important life lessons, come from the time I spent as a young girl at the market. It broke my heart to see the crumbling remains of Gay Street when I was in B’more this year.

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