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Union Market

January 20, 2010

Yesterday morning I decided to stroll around downtown and ended up parking next to the old Union Market.  I had heard stories about this Market being one of the largest of its kind in the world, but was never very impressed by the look of it. Today I decided to take a closer look.

Old Union Market - Now Drury Inn

I can imagine the large building with numerous entrances bustling in the early 2oth century or even before then.  Although the current building was erected in 1924 by the city of St. Louis, the site hosted a public market since 1866 (according to this wonderful history of the Union Market by Joe Frank).  An 1888 account of Markets in St. Louis (in Commercial and architectural St. Louis By George Washington Orear) highlights Union Market as one of many the city contained at the time:

Markets in St. Louis

Unfortunately, as is the subject of Joe Frank’s Blog entry linked above, the Market has often had less than good luck.  In this New York Times article from October 13th, 1929, the newly opened Union Market was described as “not [being] a financial success due largely to its location in an almost inaccessible part of the city where traffic congestion [was] the heaviest.”

Union Market Corner Stone

According to this Chicago Tribune article advocating for automobile related road improvements, “It [took] a farmer from Fenton driving a team over the present roads four and one-half hours to reach Union market, St. Louis.”  Also, once the Farmer made it to Union Market, the customer was provided scales by the city to second guess his measurements.  In addition to these problems, when the market managed to get a final shot in the 1980s, it lasted only until March 1989.

Union Market Hours

My other photos of the market are here.

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