One of the oldest and largest outdoor markets in the United States dates back more than a century. An influx of Italian immigrants arrived in Philadelphia in the early 20th century and the market developed to cater to the new community. It has been bustling ever since, and many of the vendors and shops have remained the same.
A living, breathing historic site, Italian Market offers a glimpse into a time before supermarkets, when eating was a community effort. It spans about nine blocks, with the bulk of the action centering on 9th Street between Christian Street and Washington Avenue. The numerous stalls and shops include baked goods, fish, meat, and cheese shops, cafés, and even ones selling books or household goods.
Though parts of it are a little dilapidated, and the street is often in dire need of a good scrub, it holds all the delicacies of Italy: paper-thin slices of prosciutto, juicy mounds of mozzarella, succulent olives, and some of the freshest bread, pasta, and produce in Philadelphia.
Locals, tourists, and gourmands alike can explore and discover the myriad of unique goodies and shops in the Italian Market while soaking in the unique atmosphere. Notice the giant mural of Frank Rizzo, the controversial, polarizing 1970s Philadelphia mayor whose likeness occupies a full wall at 9th and Montrose Streets, and recall Rocky Balboa’s famous jog down the street, burned into the local collective consciousness. If you visit in winter, you may really see old men warming their hands over giant barrels of fire.
The area continues to attract immigrants of many origins, and a significant number of Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, and Mexican business owners have set up shop alongside the Italian ones — enriching the culinary and cultural experience for everyone.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition