On Monday, amid all the Bastille Day revelry, you might have heard a wailing “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” coming from the throats of food lovers in the city. That morning, an email heard ’round the neighborhoods hit our in boxes. The founder of the New Amsterdam Market, Robert LaValva, had sent a message to subscribers with the sad, sad news that the market would be closing down, effective immediately. The final market was to be the one that had been held in June of this year.
Here is the information from their website:
Founded in 2005, New Amsterdam Market was first held at the site of the Old Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan on December 16, 2007. Over the ensuing seven years, the market grew in frequency and scope while nurturing an evolving community of small businesses dedicated to sustainable food production, regional economies, and fair trade. Through our steadfast presence under every adversity, we also championed the preservation of New York City’s oldest commons, where public trade has been conducted since 1642. But in 2013 the community was betrayed by elected officials who had professed their support but were ultimately swayed by the demands of the suburban shopping mall developer, Howard Hughes. As a result, Lower Manhattan has already lost one acre of irreplaceable public space and is now seeing its most precious public asset ruined by inappropriate programming.Our last market at this location was held on Saturday, June 21, 2014. We thank all who participated in this endeavor.
The market was held on the site of the former Fulton Fish Market, which has been a battle scene for the past few years between preservationists and those who would like more commercial redevelopment of the South Street Seaport area. I attended a few town meetings and a City Hall session where there were passionate discussions about this topic. Vendors, regular market-goers, neighborhood residents, and local food suppliers were all in support of the market having some kind of presence in whatever plans were being draw up to revamp and revitalize this piece of waterfront property.
A food market, which would draw foot traffic to this part of the city, as well as bring in tourists, and highlight the culinary bounty and diversity of this region has been a topic I’ve heard discussed pretty much since I moved here almost fifteen years ago. The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, Pike Place Market in Seattle, and others have been mentioned in the same conversation that asks, “Why doesn’t a city like New York have a major destination food market?”
(photo from June 2013 market post)
Smorgasburg, Hester Street Fair, and other venues are all seasonal alternatives, but the combination of farmer, artisan, and special regional-focused culinary events that the New Amsterdam Market held each year, made it a special place to go. As I wrote in June of 2013, after the first market of that season, that I ran in to so many friends that it really did feel as though the Big Apple was just a small, intimate town. Stopping by to see the vendors whom I had gotten to know over the years and swapping stories and the most recent gossip was just a plus, as I loaded up my shopping bag with jams, meats, bread, cheese, sweets, and other goodies, often while sipping a drink from P&H Soda Co., looping back around the market for a snack from Lonestar Taco, and saving room for a treat from Liddabit Sweets or La Newyorkina.
So, I’m dedicating this #TBT post to the New Amsterdam Market. I’m hoping that, even as I type these words, the news that I saw last night that the board members are working to save the market and to figure out a solution for its future are true. Here’s my offer to them, if you need any assistance getting a petition together or rallying support for the market to survive and to be considered an integral part of the redevelopment process of the South Street Seaport area, just reach out and ask. This market has so many fans and supporters and has been a huge contributor to what makes NYC a special place to live, even in the short time that it has been in operation.
“New Amsterdam Market is Finished on South Street” from Grub Street (07/14/14)
“New Amsterdam Market’s Board May Try to Resume Operations” from Grub Street (07/16/14)