THE former West Washington Market was enclosed in ten two-story-tall red brick and terra cotta buildings, completed in 1889, set on four streets and one avenue. In 1939, the WPA Guide to New York City described the scene at both the Gansevoort Farmer’s Market and the West Washington Market:
“Gansevoort Market, or ‘Farmers’ Market,’ as it is generally known, occupies the block between Gansevoort and Little West Twelfth streets. Farmers from Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut bring their produce here at night for sale under supervision of the Department of Public Markets. Activities begin at 4 a.m. Farmers in overalls and mud-caked shoes stand in trucks, shouting their wares. Commission merchants, pushcart vendors, and restaurant buyers trudge warily from one stand to another, digging arms into baskets of fruits or vegetables to ascertain quality. Trucks move continually in and out among the piled crates of tomatoes, beans, cabbages, lettuce, and other greens in the street. Hungry derelicts wander about in the hope of picking up a stray vegetable dropped from some truck, while patient nuns wait to receive leftover, unsalable goods for distribution among the destitute. The market closes at 10 a.m. and is not open Sundays or holidays. Across West Street is the West Washington market, comprising ten quaint red brick buildings which house a live poultry market patronized mostly by kosher butchers Since poultry requires ample heat in winter, every stall is equipped with a furnace, so that each roof adds more than a dozen chimneys to its picturesque architecture.” [Village Preservation]
West Washington Market had a street system independent from the rest of Manhattan except for the presence of 13th Avenue, which remains in place at its west end (seen here on the right) and it will be turned into a riverside promenade. The only current tenant is FDNY Marine Company 1, which boasts one of the newest FDNY firehouses, commissioned in 2010.
Plans call for a new public space, the Gansevoort Peninsula, to be built on the man-made feature that will be mix of recreational and more natural parkland. The FDNY marine company will be retained as will 13th Avenue. Construction is ongoing…verrrrrrrry slowly.
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