Lexington Market

A Centuries-old Municipal Marketplace

The most popular of Baltimore's once-extensive municipal market system, Lexington Market has been serving local specialities since 1782.

As the crown jewel of the nation’s oldest continually operating municipal market system, Lexington Market has attracted crowds for more than two centuries. A trio of markets established in 1784 provided early Baltimoreans access to fresh food: Centre (also known as Marsh), Fells Point (also known as Broadway) and Hanover. As the city’s population increased, so too did the system of public markets. When the Battle of Baltimore took place, this popular market had already operated for over thirty years. Local Revolutionary War hero John Eager Howard donated land for a market in 1782, named after the 1775 battle in Massachusetts in which Howard participated. Known as Howard’s Hill Market and the Western Precinct Market, Lexington served as a hub of both commerce and social interaction in early Baltimore.

Vendors—including fishmongers and butchers—from the farmland and waterways surrounding the city carted their goods in on market days, Tuesdays and Fridays. The open stalls that made up the bustling market were covered by a permanent structure in 1803, making it one of the largest buildings in the city in 1814. Shortly after the battle, in February 1815, the commissioners of the Western Precinct appointed a committee tasked with grading, leveling, and paving the streets west of the Jones’ Falls—which certainly aided vendors’ transportation to and from the market. The city expanded the structure with an addition in 1818.

At the zenith of the municipal system in the late 19th century, Baltimoreans could choose from eleven markets in the city limits. In addition to Lexington, several of these historic markets remain in operation today: Hollins (1838), Cross Street (1846), Lafayette (1871; now Avenue), and Northeast (1885).

Images

Lexington Market, 1850

Lexington Market, 1850

Pictured here at its height in 1850, flowers and fruit are sold outside of the market. The market days can be seen on the sign above the entrance. | Source: Library of Congress | Creator: Albertype Co. View File Details Page

Lexington Market, 1903

Lexington Market, 1903

This aerial view over the market shows both its immense size as well as the scale of development around it. | Source: Library of Congress | Creator: Detroit Publishing Co. View File Details Page

Access Information:

Open Monday to Saturday, 6:00 am – 6:00 pm

Street Address:

400 W. Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 [map]

Official Website:

Lexington Market

Cite this Page:

Auni Gelles, “Lexington Market,” Battle of Baltimore, accessed June 26, 2019, http://www.battleofbaltimore.org/items/show/209.

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