There is one place in Detroit where old and young, Eastsider and Westsider, black and white meet. Bring your wagon or grocery bag to the historic Eastern Market (2934 Russell St., 313/833-9300, www.detroiteasternmarket.com), between Mack and Gratiot Avenues, on a Saturday morning, and you’ll find a fragment of old Detroit, a colorful cornucopia of smells, sights, and sounds.
In a city that’s known great cycles of boom and bust, Eastern Market is as perennial as the fruit and flowers it sells.
Built on the site of an early hay and wood market, this bustling area near Greektown has lured Detroiters since the 1890s. Shoppers come to buy meat, cheese, produce, fruit, and flowers from large, open-air stalls and wholesale/retail specialty shops.
Many wholesalers are the descendants of the Belgian, German, and Polish farmers who frequented the market generations ago, or the Italian and Lebanese merchants who began catering to the booming city in the 1920s.
Saturdays are busiest, when the farmers market runs from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and thousands of shoppers pour into the area to browse, bargain, and buy among goods that range from fresh chitlins to fresh cilantro. Highlights include the flower stalls (the market is the largest bedding center in the world); the aromas at Germack’s, the oldest pistachio importer in the United States; and Rafal Spice Company, which has more than 400 herbs and spices, 85 kinds of coffee, and a large assortment of hot sauces and perfume oils filling its narrow shelves.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel