Cleveland’s West Side Market – A Feast for the Senses

The West Side Market is a vibrant and lively Cleveland landmark that is home to a world of ethnically diverse food.

The West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest and largest independent market. The market, which will be celebrating its centenary in 2012, is home to hundreds of vendors selling everything from exotic spices and vegetables to pigs’ heads. People from all over the world come to visit this vibrant and lively Cleveland landmark.

The History of the West Side Market

The West Side Market began its life in 1840 as an open-air marketplace at the corner of West 25th and Lorain Streets in the Ohio City district of Cleveland. In 1868, a one-story wooden building was constructed to accommodate the growing market, which became known as the Pearl Street Market. Because of the rapid growth of Cleveland at the time, the market soon outgrew this building as well. In 1902, a new market was designed by Cleveland architects Charles Hubbell and W. Dominick Benes, who also designed other Cleveland landmarks such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Wade Memorial Chapel at Lakeview Cemetery.

The new West Side Market with its distinctive clock tower was dedicated in 1912. The brick building is of a Neoclassical/Byzantine design with a large concourse containing stalls for nearly 100 vendors. A partly covered arcade wraps around the side and back of the building which has 85 stalls for fruit and vegetable vendors. The market, which has undergone several renovations since 1912, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Although the Market suffered during the 1980s and 90s when the city of Cleveland experienced financial difficulties, it continued to expand and became well known throughout the country when it was featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network.

The West Side Market Today

The West Side Market is far more than a historic landmark and tourist destination. Neighborhood residents and people from all over the Cleveland area still do the majority of their grocery shopping there. With over 100 ethnically diverse vendors selling their wares, the choice is nearly endless. Visitors to the market are immediately greeted with the sights, smells, and sounds of vendors selling fresh fish and seafood, a wide variety of meat and sausages, all kinds of delicious cheeses, and sumptuous homemade pastries. The exterior fruit and vegetable market is home to fresh, locally grown produce, as well as more exotic imported varieties.

There are also stalls selling fresh flowers and several booths that offer ready-made food, spices, oils, and candy. The market has its own restaurant, the West Side Market Cafe, and many of the stalls sell sausage sandwiches, pastries, and pierogies that can be eaten on site.

The market stalls, many of which have been family-run for decades, reflect the cultural diversity of the area, representing German, Irish, Middle Eastern, Italian and Polish descendants to the Cleveland area, as well as others. This cultural diversity means that shoppers can experience a world of food all under one roof.

Ohio City, Home of the West Side Market

The historic district of Ohio City is one of Cleveland’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. Home to the West Side Market, it also offers visitors many opportunities for shopping, dining out, and sightseeing. The neighborhood boasts many historic homes and buildings of varying architectural styles. There are a variety of new art galleries springing up in the neighborhood, including The Glass Bubble Project where visitors can watch glassblowing displays and meet the studio’s resident chicken. Ohio City is also home to the popular Great Lakes Brewing Company. In the summer, Ohio City hosts an open-air market on Saturdays with live music and an eclectic mix of vendors.

Information on Visiting the West Side Market

The West Side Market is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 am to 4 pm and on Friday and Saturdays from 7 am to 6 pm. It is located at the corner of West 25th and Lorain Streets in Ohio City.

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