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Ohio’s capital city, like many others in 19th century America, built a series of public markets to facilitate agricultural and industrial as well as retail trade around the middle of the 19th century. The city’s Central Market was built between 1849 and 1850 at Town and Fourth Streets to serve as a municipal building as well as an economic market, and was soon joined by a West Market, on South Gift Street, and an East market, at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Miami Avenues. The North market, constructed at Spruce and High Streets on the city’s north side, was constructed in 1876. Historically, city ordinances and a city-employed Market Master established and enforced rules governing fees, location of stands, and other standards. By the mid-20th century, changing demographics and shopping preferences, coupled with a series of fires left Columbus with only one public market, the North Market, which after a 1947 fire was housed in a Quonset hut erected by the Merchant’s Association.
In 1988, a group called the North Market Development Authority was established as part of a movement to restore the market and the market concept to its former status as a vital part of the Columbus community. The suburbanization of the city had dealt the downtown area an economic blow, but the success of the movement to preserve Columbus’ German Village neighborhood provided an example that large-scale neighborhood rehabilitation was possible in the capital city. In 1982, the North Market District was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and in December 1992, Nationwide Insurance sold the NMDA the former Advanced Thresher farm machinery warehouse located just behind the market’s original High Street location. The rehabilitated warehouse, financed by $5 million raised by NDMA from corporate and city sources, reopened as the new North Market in November 1995.
The Market today
The market can be thought of as a concept somewhere between a shopping mall and a supermarket. Its retail space is leased out to independent merchants and artisans who operate within the market. The current 36 merchants are a mixture of delis, bakeries, pastry shops, ethnic food restaurants, specialty goods stores, and produce stands. One million shoppers visit the North Market every year, and many regular customers develop personal relationships with the owners and operators of the market’s businesses.
The North Market sponsors an outdoor farmers market during growing season (April through late October–November), where several independent merchants sell their goods.
The area surrounding the market has continued to prosper, with the building of the architecturally significant Columbus Convention Center across High Street and growth of the nearby Arena District and Short North neighborhoods fueling a housing and retail boom. The North Market is set to add a bell tower similar to the one that adorned the 1876 building by November 2006.
- "About Us / The North Market". Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- North Market Official Website
- List of North Market Merchants
- 1993 North Market Plan
- 2005 Short North Gazette article about the North Market's 10th Anniversary