New Orleans Public Markets Make a Comeback

Plagued by supermarket chains and natural disasters, the public markets of New Orleans could help revive community identity. Here are some of the ways they're getting back in business.

1 minute read

March 27, 2015, 6:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


New Orleans street

JasonParis / Flickr

Neither supermarkets nor farmers' markets, New Orleans public markets once bound the city together. Nina Feldman writes, "[t]he markets were iconic buildings, usually positioned in the center of the neighborhood. They sold produce, meat and dairy in the morning. As the day wore on, the ice melted and food couldn't be kept cold any longer. So in the afternoons and evenings, the markets stopped functioning as markets, but still served as gathering spaces. They were the hubs of their community, hosting events like political rallies and concerts."

The rise of supermarket-based food economics threatened the markets' viability. And their New Orleans location gave rise to additional challenges: "When Hurricane Katrina hit 10 years ago, it proved to be a deadly blow for many of these already fragile structures. The era of demolition by neglect was over; hurricane winds and floodwaters left buildings like the old St. Roch Market destroyed."

Feldman describes post-Katrina efforts to revive and rebrand the iconic structures, reviving some of their old functions in the process. Markets under redevelopment include St. Roch Market, Dryades Market, and Circle Food Store. From the article: "The public market network in New Orleans will never resemble its previous system; the markets' primary function is not as essential to every day life. But they can still offer New Orleans neighborhoods an opportunity to establish a sense of identity."

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