In November ’05, Manhattan’s historic Fulton Fish Market left its home at the South Street Seaport for new pastures in the Bronx, ending an incredible 183 year run. Since 1822, the market has been one of the most important wholesale fish markets in the country, where fresh fish of literally every variety are available.
The buildings are now empty and forgotten, used only for parking. One has landmark status, but it’s very unclear what’s going to happen to them.
Not that impressive, right? Just a couple of empty cement warehouses?
In 2002, someone very intelligently recommended that I take a trip down to the market, and I’m eternally grateful to this person now knowing that it didn’t have long for the world. I biked down with a friend at around 3 AM, and had one of the most memorable experiences of my time living in New York. I was totally blown away by this small pocket of intense energy thriving in the early morning hours hidden below the FDR.
Anyway, I was recently scouting in the South Street Seaport area, and was really shocked by how dead the empty market buildings now feel, considering how alive they had once been. I wanted to share some of my pictures from that night in 2002 in memory of the old fish market:
This is the interior of one of the main markets, seen empty in the third picture of this post.
Some enormous fish:
Still more fish…
Fish unhappy to be in a box of ice:
Pink fish with really neat green stripes down the side:
This is the market in the second picture of this post:
In addition to the main market buildings, several private vendors operated out of storefronts across the street. It blows me away to think that fish have probably been sold at these locations continually since the 1800s. Up until the 1950s, docks actually moored nearby in the East River to unload fish.
When the market left, an era came to an end. The reasons were understandable – more space in the Bronx, way closer to the interstates, more hygienic conditions, modern freezers to regulate temperature a bit better than ice…It’s one of those unfortunate inevitables of progress.
But I wanted to post this in memorium of what once was…
…and now is:
PS: According to Wikipedia, it is possible for fish to be rushed from fishing ports in New England to wholesale buyers at the Fulton Fish Market, who might then resell it to retail markets and restaurants in the very same towns where the catch originated.