Wallabout Market

Description of One of the Most Important Institutions Which Brooklyn Will Contribute to the New City.
The natural facilities this market possesses for the transaction of business bode well for its future growth and importance. The portion at present in operation abuts, on the east side, a portion of the lands of the Navy Yard Reservation, and is bounded on the west side by Washington avenue, on the south side by Flushing avenue, and on the north by the Wallabout Canal. Consequently, it is approachable on one-half its area by wide avenues, upon each of which is a double tracked railroad, while on a third of its remaining boundary line the bulkhead of the canal affords a landing place for every description of produce sent to it by vessel. On the at present undeveloped lands are long piers, also available for market purposes.

Two years' occupation of the neat appearing two story red brick buildings by the established dealers of the market has brought an adaptation of the requirements of their traffic which enables them to conduct their business with the dispatch indispensable to the handling of the large quantities of produce which are ever arriving for the city's consumption. The market men's hours are necessarily long. Railway trains and steamers are continually reaching terminals and the freight they bring must be moved at once to clear space for that to arrive on the morrow; therefore, the trucks of the market men must be on hand soon after midnight to cart away from such terminals their consignments. These, being delivered at the market stores, must be economically and at the same time conveniently stowed for exhibition and delivery to purchasers.

Early Morning Scenes in the market

A visit to the market at say from 2 to 4'o clock in the morning will reveal on all sides a scurry of preparation for the day's trading. Grocers and other retailers will have begun to arrive by 4 o'clock, and from that hour the activity increases. In the height of the produce season the rush of work is tremendous. The market men's trucks unloading fresh arrivals of fruits and vegetables and the wagons of purchasers, appear mixed up inextricably; but habit enables systematic unraveling and clearances are duly made with very little confusion.

By 8 o'clock the bulk of the trafficking is over, and the market settles down to bargaining by peddlers and belated retailers. The choice of the stocks has as a rule been sold out and the dealers welcome the street venders as an outlet for their left over stocks. For a few hours the market men have a breathing spell and their stores have an empty appearance, but shortly the receipt of produce and the work pertaining to its disposition are resumed.

The Fire Department has leased land on the Washington avenue side of the market and has constructed thereon a substantial and commodious engine house, equipped with a steamer, a chemicalizer and a hose cart. A force of eighteen men operates this equipment. When the steamer is called away to a fire there will be enough of this force left in the engine house with the chemicalizer, which may be operated without the engine, to meet any emergency which is likely to arise in the market.

There are now 186 buildings in the market, of which 160 are occupied by produce, meat, fish and poultry dealers. There are beside seven stables, the fire engine house, the office tower building, a restaurant and sixteen buildings as yet unoccupied.

The picture shown above of the farmers' square, discloses that department in readiness for business. The farmers have but the selling side of their work to transact, their vegetables having been placed in their wagons in an order which enables the ready delivery of the different lines they bring in.

Though the farmers have long hours, their work is less onerous than that of the market dealers. They begin coming into the square late in the afternoon and from that time on, their arrival is continuous. As they drive in the carriers of the market, a class of workers who carry the vegetables to the wagons of purchasers, direct them to a standing place for their wagons. The carriers also look after the wagons and attend to the farmers' horses, stabling them or covering and feeding them before the wagons. The farmer who arrives before market hours, may betake himself to amusement or bed and rely upon his carrier to hunt him up or reuse him at the proper time. A group of these carriers may be seen in the picture. The carriers are as a rule, honest and painstaking men, and are frequently commissioned by the farmers to sell and collect the money for their vegetables. The boss carriers employ many subordinates, for whom they are responsible. The carriers are paid 75 cents for the care of a wagon with two horses, and 50 cents for a single horse and wagon.

The market square is 900 feet in length by 240 in width and nearly six hundred wagon loads of vegetables have been disposed of therein during a single day. Excepting Fridays, in winter and days next preceding holidays, when an all day occupancy is permitted, the farmers are turned out of the square at noon to enable a cleaning up for the next day's traffic.

The present market buildings were not erected by the city, as is supposed by many persons, but by the lessees of the ground rentals. In 1893 the lessees, whose right of occupation rested solely upon the original permits issued when the land east of Washington avenue was borrowed from the Navy Department, were notified that they must execute leases from the city, which compelled them to erect substantial buildings and to provide two sureties to guarantee their side of the contract, or vacate their holdings. As the alternative involved the extinction of the trade which had taken years to work up and the loss of their existing frame structures, the lessees were compelled to accept the leases.

The amount paid by the city for the land east of Washington avenue at the time of its purchase from the Navy Department was $700,000.

On the lands purchased later west of Washington avenue there is now being prepared a commodious basin and pier system to accommodate shipping of every description engaged in market produce traffic. The cost of this land was $1,208,666.

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Wallabout Market
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
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