By Rita Knight-Gray, Host Committee member
The thriving West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest continuously operating municipally owned market. It began in 1840 when land at the corner of Pearl (W. 25th) and Lorain streets was given by Josiah Barber and Richard Lord. Barber and Lord stipulated that it always be kept as a public market site to Ohio City and City of Cleveland ( the Cuyahoga River was the divide for Cleveland and Ohio City). Additional land gifts enabled the marketplace to expand as the population grew, and in 1912 the yellow brick building opened across the street from the first building. The new building contained 100 stalls, an outdoor arcade with 85 stands, and the familiar clock tower. In 1973 it was designated a National Historic Landmark and has become an attractive location for local as well as out-of-town shoppers. What ever you are looking for–fresh fruits and vegetables, exotic meats, all types of baked goods and specialty items, or maybe the sights and sounds of the diverse merchants and patrons–all can be found at the West Side Market. Visit the website for the times and an in-depth look of the market.
The defunct Central Market was located on the east side of downtown Cleveland. It was built in 1856 on the Ontario, Woodland and Broadway intersection. It contained more than 200 vendors that were frequented by a bevy of customers. Due to neglect it became antiquated and lacked the proper sanitary facilities, but it was still used as a market. It was cited as a traffic, safety, and health hazard in the 1940s, so in 1946 a 1.3 million bond was approved to build a new market. Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire in 1949 and the bond money was used instead to renovate the West Side Market. In 1950 a new Central Market was created but due to financial problems the market was sold in 1986 to the Greater Cleveland Domed Stadium Corporation (then the domed stadium project didn’t materialize). The building was demolished and the land became part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex.