What’s better than enjoying food or history separately? Savoring the two together, of course! Detroit’s Eastern Market serves up tasty delectables and a rich heritage.

sam_2194Arched, red-brick sheds harken back to the turn of the century with their industrial chic exteriors. Underneath the towering ceilings of the pavilions, farmers and vendors from all around Detroit come to share their wares. Although the various food sheds are populated only on market days, restaurants and stores line the streets of the area surrounding the outbuildings. In all, roughly 80 structures surround the six-block public market.

Year-round, over 225 vendors voyage to Detroit’s Eastern Market on Saturday, as farmers have for 125 years. On Sundays from June to September, a street market highlights the arts. Local artists, chefs, jewelers, and musicians enrich the community with their talents. Like many good big-city markets, the Eastern Market has continued the heritage of being a community gathering place. Serving as Detroit’s living room, locals can visit with one another, learn from artisans practicing their craft, borrow a book from the bookmobile, listen to music, admire art, or share a slice of pizza at the delicious Supino’s (read about it here). On special market days during the summer, one can even practice yoga or catch a cooking demonstrations. The Sunday after Mother’s Day flats of flowers fill Eastern Market creating an incredibly large floral extravaganza.

sam_2195Market tours afford visitors the opportunity to explore history. Preservation Detroit offers a historical walking tour of the Eastern Market where they uncover Detroit’s past—including its part in the Underground Railroad, prohibition, and the Industrial Revolution. The farmer’s market we now call Eastern Market first opened in 1841 in downtown Detroit. In 1891, the farmer’s market moved from Cadillac Square to the current location which was centered in Detroit’s German communities. It was renamed Eastern Market. The sheds which keep rain and snow off visitor’s heads have been sheltering patrons for over a century.

This working food district was a place for immigrants to get a start and served as a true cultural melting pot. Today, you can still find people from various ethnic backgrounds swapping recipes, debating over who has the best produce, or giving tops on how to select the ripest tomato. Drawing on the ages-old tradition of the community bazaar, diverse market-goers revel in a shared love for food and celebrate its harvest.

For more on places to visit in Detroit, see my post “Detroit Renaissance.” For more on food culture, see “For the Love of Food.”

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