Vendors at the Findlay Market prepare for the shopping day ahead.
Located only blocks from downtown Cincinnati in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Findlay Market serves as a de-facto melting pot for the greater metropolitan area. In a district known for its rich 19th century architecture, the market is a gathering place for people from all walks of life. The diverse crowd descends on the area to experience an old-fashioned public market. An ideal urban shopping experience, Findlay Market’s mission is to keep the market around for future generations by maintaining a “thriving, growing, dynamic public market that spurs economic development in the surrounding neighborhood.” Given its significant contribution to the economic well-being of Cincinnati and its drive for innovative sustainability, Findlay Market uses its old-world charm to deliver a positive impact to the city.
The only surviving municipal market of the nine public markets in Cincinnati at the start of the Civil War, Findlay Market was built on land donated by the estate of General James Findlay, an early settler who eventually became mayor of the city. Originally constructed as an open-air pavilion in 1852, construction disputes delayed the market’s opening until 1855. Soon after the turn of the century, public health concerns prompted the enclosure of the market house. Not only was the market becoming exposed to increased pollution, but the cooling methods used by merchants were deemed unsafe. As a result, modern plumbing and refrigeration techniques were installed and the market reopened as a covered building. Renovations on the site took place from 1973 to 1974 and 2002 to 2003, as the commercial hub worked to update its facilities to changing economic times.
Today, the Findlay Market serves as the main source of fresh food in Cincinnati’s urban core. More than 35 full-time, year-round merchants and 70 seasonal and part-time vendors use the market as a place of business. In addition, approximately 55 local farmers and food producers sell their products directly to the public here. On a given Saturday, nearly 300 people are working at the market. The shopping hub’s economic contribution to the local area is significant. In 2009, an estimated 758,053 shopping visits were made to Findlay Market as shoppers spent approximately $29 million. An additional $10 million was spent elsewhere in the downtown area during the year. This influx of commerce for these businesses means that this money mostly stays in the local economy.
The indoor section of the Findlay Market is known as the Historic Market House. Inside, visitors shop from a range of products including baked goods, deli meats, artisan cheeses, garden-fresh produce, ethnic specialties and souvenirs. Cincinnati local favorites have a prominent place at the market as well. Given the city’s strong German heritage, traditional fare such as sauerkraut, bratwurst, goetta (a sausage made of ground meat and oats) and rye bread are staples. The outdoor area around the market, known as the Street Bazaar, is bustling with activity each weekend and, in the warmer months, many weekdays. From street peddlers to crafters and entertainers to artists, the street is lined with enjoyable tents and tables. Seasonally, Findlay Market hosts a farmers market three days a week where fruit, vegetables, flowers and other locally produced items are available for purchase. The market takes pride in the fact that all products sold in the farmers markets are grown locally, and most of it is harvested right before going to market.
A local institution, the Findlay Market has been a Cincinnati landmark for over 150 years. The market was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and draws customers from more than 150 zip codes. It attracts a vibrant mix of socially, economically and ethnically diverse people. It remains on the cutting edge of environmentally sound practices and initiatives for sustainability. With nods to its past, celebrations of the present and visions for the future, this spot proves to be more than just another day at the market. 1801 Race Street, Cincinnati; 513-665-4839; Hours: Tu.-F 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sa. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Su. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.