The food industry became a mainstay of life in Hell's Kitchen after the Civil War. The section of Ninth Avenue, the neighborhood's main street, between 35th and 42nd Streets, has been called Paddy's Market since the 1880s. It was a thriving immigrant pushcart marketplace, and one of the city's best known landmarks, where Irish, Greek, and Italian merchants came from all over Clinton/Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea to push foodstuffs and other wares from wagons clustered along the sidewalks, much in the same way as on the Lower East Side.
Ninth Avenue was the area's great shopping center, as people flooded from New Jersey, the Bronx, and downtown to shop in the open for vegetables, fruits, olive oil, pasta, breads, meat, fish, flowers and poultry, as well as spices, herbs, coffee and tea. With the extension of the Ninth Avenue El above 30th Street in 1879, Paddy's Market boomed, particularly on Saturdays when shoppers came out in droves. The West Side from 14th to 42nd Streets was at this time developing its reputation as one of the city's primary food venues, due in no small part to the concentration of slaughterhouses that were erected along Twelfth Avenue. For many years, the Market flourished side by side with traditional Italian and Greek grocery stores. There was a well-known fish wagon at the corner of 39th Street where a chicken could be had for 29 cents. Merchants and "old-clothes men" like Henry, the Frankfurter Man, whose sauerkraut could be smelled blocks away, became neighborhood fixtures.
In 1937, the city's Department of Public Markets, in cooperation with the Port Authority of New York, ordered Paddy's Market to be moved to clear and widen neighborhood streets in preparation for the building of the Lincoln Tunnel and the tearing down of the El. Officials were now intent on broad scale modernization. Shoppers soon learned to patronize the stores and not to haggle on the pavement. The hardy pushcart vendors of Paddy's Market were ordered to stay off Ninth Avenue. The vendors in turn refused and took their case to court before finally being evicted in 1938.
The vendors split into two groups and moved to two open lots east of the avenue, one on 39th Street and the other on 41st Street. Business slumped in the new locations and in early 1939, the merchants unsuccessfully petitioned the Commission of Public Markets for an enclosed market building. Although they remained in business during and after World War II, by the early 1950s the last traces of Paddy's Market were gone.
26 November 1896, New York Times, pg. 3:
"PADDY'S MARKET" VANISHING
New Ordinances on Vendors Enforced
on Upper Ninth Avenue.
The days of "Paddy's Market" appear to be numbered. In fact, the market has already become a sort of remembrance, and with new ordinances, police interference, and competition on the upper west side, it seems that the market will soon be no more of a market than any other street in which business is done by peddlers from wagons on Saturday nights and on the eve of holidays.
For about fifteen years Ninth Avenue from Thirty-eighth to Forty-second Street has been one of the busiest places in the city on Saturday nights. Every available space was wont to be occupied by wagons, backed up to the curb and loaded high with vegetables, fruits, and every conceivable thing that the housekeepers of the west side tenement district could want. From every wagon gleamed two or more torches, which brilliantly lighted the street and filled the air with pungent smoke.
The air was also filled with the cries of the vendors, of whom there were two or three to each wagon. Saturday night in "Paddy's Market" was a gala night for the natives of the west side.
But all this has been changed. A new ordinance affecting the market was passes by the Board of Aldermen a few weeks ago, and was enforced by Capt. Scmittberger's men for the first time last night. The vendors used to be allowed to stand in the acvenue between 3 P. M. and midnight on market days, Now they are allowed to stand in one place only a half-hour at a time. Then they must move to another block. This ordinance applies to the entire city, excepting Fifth, Madison, and Lexington Avenues, and a few other avenues and treets.
So the vendors who made up "Paddy's Market" are now scattered all over the west side. Instead of waiting for buyers to come to them they go to the buyers. Last night there was still a remnant of the old market in the avenue, but it was a small remnant, consisting of about twenty wagons.
How "Paddy's Market" got its name is not known. It was started in Thirty-ninth Street about eighteen years ago by a number of vendors congregating there every Saturday night. The number finally became so large that the Board of Aldermen passed the ordinance making the four blocks in Ninth Avenue a market place.
11 December 1904, New York Times, pg. SM7:
If You Have Never Seen It, It Is Well
Worth a Saturday Night Trip to
Ninth Avenue and Forty-second
Street - A Picturesque Phase of West
There seems to be no good reason why the open-air market, which is one of the sights of the town, Saturday nights, for ten or twelve blocks below Forty-second Street, in Ninth Avenue, should be called "Paddy's Market," except it is because Paddy seldom goes there.
1 December 1937, New York Times, pg. 25:
GLUM AS END NEARS
200 Food-Stand Owners on
West Side, Doomed by Tunnel,
See Livelihood Going
The ancient and picturesque array of fruit and vegetable stands known as "Paddy's Market" is going to stay right where it has been for the last forty-eight years, the Cohens and the Goldbergs and the Tarrones and the Nebbias asserted grimly, but somewhat fearfully yesterday, in the face of an order to move this morning for the new Lincoln Tunnel approach.
Restaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 14, 2004 • Permalink