On June 14, 1884 – or 128 years ago today – a municipally-sanctioned public market was opened on the five-sided block bounded by Little West Twelfth, Washington, Gansevoort, West Streets and Tenth Avenue. Vendors primarily from New Jersey and Long Island came by ferry to sell produce. As you can see in the photo above, produce was carried by wagons that filled the market area; low-scale buildings, a building type that still characterizes this area nearly 130 years later, are also visible in the background. Today, the area is more commonly known as the Meatpacking District.
The area evolved into a meat market as well; a report conducted by architectural historian Thomas Mellins for GVSHP explores the market’s later history:
In 1926, the city, eager to increase the tax revenue it garnered from the increasingly valuable property occupied by the Gansevoort Farmers’ Market, moved to close it. At about that time, the district started to undergo a planned transformation into a meatpacking and wholesale meat distribution center. The alteration of existing buildings to serve market functions, a process begun in the 1880s, continued throughout the 1930s. The 1930s also saw the completion of the elevated West Side Highway and the elevated lines of the Hudson River Railroad, both designed in part to relieve surface traffic in the area, which had become one of the most congested in the city. At that time, both produce and meat markets thrived in the area. In the 1940s the city demolished the West Washington Market, and meat businesses proliferated in the district. In 1949, when the city was in the midst of building a new meat market facility, workers encountered Fort Gansevoort’s foundation, constructed 138 years before. The Gansevoort Market Meat Center, which still functions, opened in 1950. —A Case for Preservation
More in-depth coverage of this area is available on our website. GVSHP has conducted extensive research on this area through in-house research and working with consultants, and this information can be found on our Gansevoort Market Historic District page in the Preservation section of our website. Reports of interest include:
- An overview of a proposed Gansevoort Market Historic District by architectural historian Thomas Mellins
- GVSHP’s nomination of Gansevoort Market to the State and National Register of Historic Places
- A walking tour of the district prepared by GVSHP
After years of advocacy work, GVSHP celebrated the designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District in 2003; the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report is available on our Resources page.
All buildings within the boundaries of the historic district (see map above) fall under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This means that any time a building owner wants to alter or demolish an existing building or construct a new one he/she has to apply for a special LPC permit. GVSHP tracks these applications on our Landmarks Application Webpage, including one that was just approved at 52-58 Gansevoort Street. As you can see on that property’s page, a new farmer’s market will occupy the building, which will bring the area’s historic use into the 21st century.