Say Goodbye To The Old Essex Street Market

By Elizabeth Kim

Share Article

Mary Ann Siwek has been coming to the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market for 30 years. “It’s cheap and the vendors are very friendly,” she explained recently in front of her favorite fishmonger. Plus, the 68-year-old cracked, “It’s not inundated by young people.”

But soon neither the young nor old will pass through the doors of the roughly 80-year-old building. On May 5th, Essex Street Market will close at its current location on the corner of Essex and Delancey Street. As part of a long-planned move, the city will relocate the market’s current 21 vendors across the street to a glassy, newly built ground floor space at Essex Crossing, the 1.65 million-square-foot megaproject built by a consortium of developers known as Delancey Street Associates.

Essex Crossing calls for more than 1,000 apartments (roughly half of which will be below market rate), office, retail and community uses. In that respect, Essex Street Market is a piece of a much larger puzzle and experiment: the integration of an authentic affordable Lower East Side experience with an expensively curated one.

The new building will house not only Essex Street Market, but also a developer-run market called Market Line and, in the future, a food hall. On the opposite corner, there is a 14-screen Regal Cinemas, which opened earlier this month, with promises of a soon-to-be-added restaurant. Above are rental apartments, some of which have been projected to achieve the highest rents in the neighborhood. Office space will follow. It makes sense that Essex Crossing, like Hudson Yards, has touted itself as “a city within a city.”

The old Essex Street Market—whose 15,000-square-foot plain brick building was constructed under Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1940 as one of four markets to house Lower East Side pushcart peddlers—seems to lie squarely outside that city. The graffiti-lined block contains a pizzeria, a smoke store, and a cellular provider, a familiar retail trifecta in New York City. All will eventually be razed by Essex Crossing developers for high-rise housing.