Saturday, August 25, 2007

Eastern Market Reopens

On April 30, 2007, the South Hall of Washington D.C.'s historic Eastern Market was devastated by fire. The Capitol Hill marketplace, built in 1873, is one of only a few public markets in D.C. , and the only market that has maintained its initial function since opening.

So in the early hours on that late April morning, when residents and merchants stood transfixed as they witnessed the near destruction of the market, the vow came from Mayor Adrian Fenty that they would rebuild. Nearly 4 months later, a new temporary structure, the East Hall, is up and running east of the South Hall.

The thick humid air did not keep an anxious crowd from gathering outside the East Hall this morning as early as 8 am. Mayor Fenty arrived to greet the patrons and dedicate the temporary market. With merchants surrounding him, Mayor Fenty thanked all who worked on, raised funds for and supported the Eastern Market and it's merchants since the fire late April. A tile was dedicated and before the ribbon was cut, Mayor Fenty reminisced upon first walking onto the scene of the fire. "The first person who approached me asked me if we would rebuild" remarked Fenty. "We will, I said".

"You'd better" she replied.

And they did.

As the crowded funneled into the bright, airy and air conditioned hall it became apparent that this "temporary" structure was built with great care and deliberation. Most vendors* had full cases; all adorned with fresh flower bouquets.Large banners hang high above the merchants and are illuminated by natural light coming through the translucent ceiling above. Wider aisles were teaming with patrons greeting vendors like old friends, exchanging smiles and words of welcome.

It felt like something small, but very significant, was put right in the world as I watch them purvey their goods.

It was a great day for D.C. and for those suburbanites like me who also treasure the market. The Phoenix really does arise from the ashes, replete in its' technicolor plumage as it begins it's new life. Community does matter and good deeds do go rewarded.

My reward? Well, for tonight a couple of flat iron steaks from Union Meats, and many more Saturday mornings at Eastern Market. I can taste the bluebucks now...

*Market Lunch will open in two weeks when they expect to be fully equipped. The long community table awaits.

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