Public Market

Public Market Entrance

View of the entrance to the Rochester Public Market from Union Street.

The Public Market has contributed to the Rochester community in this location since the early 1900’s. It is said to be one of the oldest farmers markets still in operation in the entire nation. Vendors would arrive to the site on horses drawing carts and wagons full of the goods and products that they intended to sell. Vendors would come from far and wide to sell products that were homemade and farm-grown, or even customized for those who were attending the market that day. It would also have been typical for the Public Market to serve as a wholesale source for many small local grocers for their retail operations. The market was a service created by and for the community. The Public Market has been an anchor for the Marketview Heights neighborhood. For years now, local residents of this neighborhood have been known to shop at the public market rather than at your typical grocery store. Martin Pedraza remarks that people could go to the store and get chicken already packaged, but he remembers buying live chicken from the market. Memories of the market for many include having to walk early in the morning, before school, to buy produce. Jim Affronti remembers going to the public market as a kid.

The Market Office, the brick building found in the middle of the market, can be seen in a photo taken in 2018. The building is prominent in many other photos from the early 1900s. The overarches where the vendors set up their booths and stations are also in their original locations. They do though look relatively different when filled from spot to spot with automobiles, instead of the horses and wagons that once transported goods to the market. It is interesting to see, though, with all of the changes and updates to the market, that the goods being sold have relatively stayed the same.

The Market does continue to change, however. The Public Market Director describes current efforts to fill vacant structures. By introducing a more flexible zoning overlay for the district, all structures – private and public – are fully leased, both in the market and on Rail Road street. There have been over 25 million dollars in private investments in the last 10 years. For some, these changes are a sign of gentrification, with many stalls occupied by high-end sellers - even wineries. And the buildings bordering the market include a craft brew house and boutique restaurants. These attract a nightlife where there used to be quiet. Nevertheless, there is also a commitment to increase the number of farmers and local vendors at the Public Market. The market rules were amended to favor local vendors, with farmers always first. The central vision is still to make sure the market continues to provide an affordable selection of fresh fruits and vegetable for city residents.

Public Market