Happy 75th, Essex Street Market
The one constant in New York City is change.
Across the five boroughs, communities are constantly shifting, innovating, and evolving.
But our neighborhoods also ground us, providing foundations for New Yorkers to build their identity, heritage, and sense of place. The Lower East Side is one of these communities. It is home to more than 80,000 people from more than 80 countries and 3,000 businesses and cultural institutions. At the heart of this diverse neighborhood is Essex Street Market.
Established in 1939 by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Essex Street Market has been a cornerstone for the Lower East Side. The Market is more than just a place to buy something to eat; it’s a community hub infused with the energy of the vendors, the devotion of the employees, and the loyalty of the neighbors.
This month, Essex Street Market celebrates its 75th birthday. We look forward to celebrating in style together with the market vendors, the Lower East Side BID, and the entire Lower East Side community.
From May 1 through May 31, we will look back at the rich and vibrant history of this Lower East Side cornerstone, celebrate the passion and importance of the market and vendors today, and look forward to the exciting future that lies before us.
Full Lineup of Market Events
May 1 - 31 : Market-wide photo exhibition in collaboration with LES Girls Club
Through photography, art and activism, and culinary training programs, the Lower East Side Girls Club of New York has been ‘serving up food justice’ since 1996.
The photography exhibition at the Essex Street Market will contain images from Lower East Side Girls Club-run farmers markets, documentation of Lower East Side small businesses, the mural program in the First Street Community Garden and fantasy nature photos shot throughout the neighborhood.
May 4 - 31 : Artists Alliance, Inc. (AAI) Art Exhibits
AAI will curate innovative installations throughout the market to engage market visitors and the Lower East Side community.
May 4 - 31 - miLES Storytelling Project
Get to know market vendors through this unique interview series on view at the Visitor Center stall (North market entrance). Videos will focus on merchant personal histories and memories of the market, including Rhonda Kave of Roni of Sue’s Chocolates, Andrew Clark of Formaggio Essex, Luis and Ramona Rodriguez of Luis Meats, Ira Stolzenberg of Rainbo’s Fish, and Lower East Side Girls Club.
May 1 : Stories in the Lower East Side
Vendors and customers are invited to share stories and experiences by chalking bits of historic trivia on the sidewalk in front of the market. Share info about your business, your family, or a fun fact about the neighborhood with the hashtag #LESstories on social media.
May 6, 7 - 9 pm : Lower East Side Tenement Talk
This free talk on the 75-year history of the market, led by Lower East Side Tenement Museum senior educator Adam Steinberg, will feature market vendors offering their unique perspectives on business ownership and the evolution of the market in the past 40 years.
Wine and light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public. Limited seating. RSVP required. 21+
May 7, 7 - 8:30 pm : Lower East Side History Project Talk
Eric Ferrara, author and founder of the award-winning Lower East Side History Project, will discuss the immigrant history of the Lower East Side and how the market has reflected the culture of the neighborhood throughout the decades. This hour long talk will be followed by an open forum for questions and discussion. Wine and light refreshments will be served.
This event is free and open to the public. Limited seating. RSVP required.
May 9 and May 30 : Poetics Collaborative Poetry
MARKET POETICS is a collaborative event featuring artists that use the Poetics visual poetry app to channel stories and portraits of the moment that will be digitally projected in real-time across the walls of the market. Come share your story, connection and history at the market!
May 16 and May 17 : miLES Brunch Series
The Lower East Side Brunch Club presents a special brunch series featuring a multi-course meal created by guest chefs who source solely from fresh ingredients at the Essex Street Market. The series will emphasize the stories behind the ingredients, the local purveyors and encourage brunch goers to shop locally afterwards!
Space is limited. Buy tickets here or enter to win by making a purchase at any market vendor.
May 30 : Essex Street Market 75th Birthday Block Party
Check out Essex Street on Sunday, May 30 from 12 - 5 pm to celebrate with local chefs from Cafe Katja, Schapiro's and Spur Tree, who will fire up the grill alongside a birthday cake 75 years in the making! In true block party form, the fiesta will also include DJs, live music, raffles, giveaways, games and pushcarts full of Essex Street Market favorites. Don't miss out on this Lower East Side History Month party of the century!
Participating vendors include: Formaggio Essex, Lower East Side Girls Club, Luca and Bosco, Nordic Preserves, Fish & Tra la la Juice Bar, Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, and Saxelby Cheesemongers.
For more information, visit the Essex Street Market website for a full lineup of events.
Be sure to stop by throughout the month of May, grab a bite to eat, and celebrate 75 years. See you at the market!