Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cleveland’s West Side Market

Photo by James Popp Web site here.

One thing you should never do when visiting Cleveland’s West Side Market is go there hungry. If your empty stomach doesn't get you to buy everything you see, your eyes will. The West Side Market is also the place to go to experience the full breadth of Cleveland’s ethnic eats. The one thing I always hear from people who have moved out of the Cleveland area is one just can’t find some of the great ethnic foods that we Clevelander’s enjoy on a routine basis.

Located on the corner of West 25th and Lorain, in the “Ohio City” neighborhood, The West Side Market has been both a landmark and a gathering place for west siders. Over the years, though, it also has become a draw for people across the entire Cleveland metro area. The Market is easy to spot, with its large clock tower and the neo-classical/Byzantine style building. The interior is decorated with ceramic corbels of animals and vegetables. The large vaulted ceiling is patterned with a herringbone design.

For me, it hasn’t always been about the food. For people like me who have lived in the Cleveland area all my life and spent my (very) early years as a west sider, it’s a bit of a trip back in time to the days before mass-market grocers. And, if you enjoy photography, it’s a very photogenic structure, inside and out.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History has a very detailed summary of how the West Side Market has evolved over the years:

The West Side Market

The West Side Market, Cleveland's oldest publicly owned market, began in 1840 when Josiah Barber and Richard Lord gave Ohio City (City of Ohio) a tract of land at the corner of Pearl (W. 25th) and Lorain streets with the stipulation that it always be kept as a public market site. Additional gifts of land enabled the marketplace to expand, and in 1868 the wooden, 1-story Pearl St. Market was erected on the site. As the city's population increased, the market house became inadequate. In 1902 the city purchased a site for a new market across the street from the old one. A new $680,000 markethouse designed by the firm of Hubbell & Benes was dedicated in 1912--a massive yellow-brick building with an interior concourse providing room for 100 stalls, an outdoor arcade with 85 stands, and a large clock tower.

The West Side Market Tenant's Assn., formed in 1915, was instrumental in implementing markethouse improvements, including a $1.1 million modernization program in 1953 and a $5 million renovation project in the late 1970s. The historical and architectural significance of the building was recognized when it was designated a Natl. Historic Landmark in 1973. The market was always a favorite stopping place for political campaigners, and during the 1980s its annual food festivals were a popular event. In 1988 budgetary concerns forced the city to reduce its subsidy to the market and the tenants' rents were raised to pay for the upkeep. In the early 1990s, numerous maintenance projects, upkeep, and repairs were begun to improve the facilities, including a $97,000 effort in 1992 aimed at correcting violations of building and sanitary codes. In 1995 the West Side Market continued to be an attractive spot for both local and out-of-town shoppers.

If you are visiting Cleveland, take the time to check out the West Side Market. And it you live in the Cleveland area and have never been there before, what are you waiting for?

“Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations” Visits the West Side Market

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,

1 comment:

jimsey said...

One of the great markets of the Mid-west and a true gem of Cleveland.

Excellent shout-out