Haymarket, Boston’s historic open air market, is one of the oldest produce markets in the country. The premise of the market since its inception has been offering affordable produce to its customers every Friday and Saturday from dawn to dusk.
Since its opening around 1830, the market has witnessed many urban changes in the area such as construction of the Central Artery and the Big Dig project. During these impactful changes, the market has evolved its way of serving customers.
Now vendors are facing another wave of change as the city planners are looking to change Haymarket to an upscale market district with establishment of the Boston Public Market Association near Haymarket and construction of a hotel or a residential building on Blackstone Street.
This photo documentary captures the essence of the operational challenges the market poses week after week.
- Omid Alavi
- Sam Nosratian
- Special thanks to: Otto Gallotto, president of Pushcart Association and all hard working vendors and employees of Haymarket.
Blackstone Street has been the heart of the Boston’s Haymarket for the past 180 years. The dynamic of the market brings a whole new experience and feel to the city from Thursday through Saturday.
I observed the setup and breakdown of the market week after week and concluded that the main reason, Haymarket has lasted this long is due to do to the fact that the vendors have been able to manage and maintain a second job for themselves and their staff. Just as importantly, customers value the market and return week after week in thousands. Haymarket has persevered through difficult times yet remains vulnerable to many outside forces.
Envision, having a second occupation requiring you to show up to work at midnight every Thursday evening and work 20 grueling hours on Friday and 16 hours on Saturday with only 6 hours of rest in between. Even more daunting, Imagine showing up to work every Thursday to first build your work place only to break it apart 42 hours later. Picture strangers taking your photograph while you work without asking for your permission or sharing a copy with you. This is the life of Haymarket vendors week after week.
Liza Weisstuch of The Pheonix (Haymarket, Up Close and Personal) wrote in her column “These vendors are vanishing kind, vestiges of old-school commerce rooted in the codes of customer loyalty, family-run operations, taxing hours, and an understanding that communality trumps competition.”
The wonder of Haymarket, its rich history, importance to the fabric of Boston; the fact that irrespective of a 180-year old tradition Haymarket can be forced to close by competition or inadequate support of the city, motivated me to produce this documentary project.
My aim is to demonstrate the necessary effort and sacrifice required to run the market and hope to shed some light on the important role that Boston’s Haymarket and all similar local markets around the country play in the livelihood of its vendors, contentment of its customers, tradition they preserve and authenticity they give to the city.
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