The Commonwealth has confirmed that the future home of the Boston Public Market will be at 136 Blackstone Street – a 30,000-square-foot, first floor retail space with an expansive frontage on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Parcel 7, as it is currently named, is an ideal Public Market site: located between the city’s Financial District and North Station. The building contains 325 rooftop parking spaces, and features direct access to the MBTA’s Haymarket Station, which is served by both the Green and Orange Lines. We submitted a proposal to develop and operate the Public Market to the State’s Market Commission in March and are pleased to announce that we have been designated to bring the project to fruition. We anticipate an opening in June 2014. You can read our proposal here.
Today, Boston has more than twenty seasonal, open-air farmers markets, the two most prominent at City Hall and in Copley Square. But the city still lacks a year-round central marketplace. Citizens, community groups, restaurants, and government agencies have expressed enthusiasm for a Boston venue that serves as a low-cost outlet for Massachusetts farmers and supports local food entrepreneurs.
Studies have established the viability of this project, which will be modeled on similar year-round markets in cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Montreal. In those cities, public markets are thriving. These robust urban/rural exchanges help boost regional farm sales, reduce food transportation and energy costs, bring affordable, nutritious food to urban residents, and create a focal point in the community for locally-produced goods. It is now time for Boston to re-establish its own public market that operates year-round, from a permanent and prominent home.
Two and one-half centuries ago, Boston’s Faneuil Hall was a marketplace and public meeting hall in the center of town, and at the heart of its civic life. Built in 1742 by Boston’s wealthiest merchant, Peter Faneuil, it was presented as a gift to the city. Home to merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers, Faneuil Hall also provided a platform for some of the country’s greatest orators, including Samuel Adams, George Washington, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Susan B. Anthony.
As trade flourished in the early 1800s, a spacious new adjunct, Quincy Market, was erected in the shadow of Faneuil Hall, and the complex remained a vital commercial hub well into the 20th century. But by the 1950s, with our local food system centered on interstate distribution and chain groceries, the buildings had fallen into disrepair and the once-thriving marketplace faced demolition.
In the early 1970s a committed group of Bostonians sought to revitalize the old market. They succeeded in creating the country’s first festival marketplace, but did not bring back Boston’s traditional public market. In 2001, a group of food lovers, food producers, and State and City officials gathered to begin what would become the Boston Public Market Association.
Our mission is to develop and operate a permanent year-round market in Boston that provides local, healthy food to consumers of all income levels, and enriches our community. It will educate the public about food sources, nutrition, and preparation.
The Boston Public Market Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3).