Floating markets that offer brightly colored produce and goods crowd the waterways in Bangkok, while aromatic and multi-hued bazaars line streets in cities throughout India, and Barcelona boasts over 43 public markets packed with delicacies and local crafts. Throughout the world, geography and culture have combined to create thousands of distinct iterations of public markets. The commonalities between them, however, are what should make all of us in DTLA hungry for more public markets.
They are all based in commerce: supply and demand, the exchange of goods for currency, buyer and seller. Marketplaces allow entrepreneurship to flourish, providing opportunities for small vendors to showcase and (hopefully) sell their products. Whether you’re buying cheese from a cheesemaker in southern France or olives from a farmer in Davis, marketplaces allow small business owners to compete in the financial marketplace.
Another commonality of public markets around the world – and a favorite of many – is sustenance. The colors, textures, sounds, smells, and tastes of each public market are uniquely built by the food carefully curated therewithin. Food denotes environment, heritage, and place. There is nothing quite like walking through the Silverlake Junction Farmers Market and being hit with a wave of citrus-smelling deliciousness, and having that first sip of bright red blood orange juice; with that, you truly know that you’re in California.
A third recurring element in public markets worldwide is just that; they are public markets. They are open, accessible, and inclusive to the population at large. Public markets bring together people across socioeconomic strata, ethnicities, political affiliations, genders, sexualities, religions, etc. This part of the puzzle elevates public markets from mere places of commerce to true places to experience the vitality and vibrance of a city.
“Public markets certainly foster sociability and exchanges not only for locals, but for visitors and guests, as well. They are places where cultures mix, and, almost as if on a stage, they are where our public lives unfold. Indianapolis City Market is situated in the heart of its downtown, just across the street from the City-County Building and Marion County Jail. Judges and lawyers can be seen interacting with local government clerks and some of the city’s homeless population. Locals rub elbows with conventioneers, professional athletes, corporate executives, farmers and small-business owners. All feel comfortable, welcome and at ease as public markets encourage this social dynamic.”
–Stevi Stoesz, Executive Director, Indianapolis City Market
On the Home Front
Here in Downtown, we all go to public markets for different purposes. Some go to buy fresh, local produce from farms they can trust. Others go to get their favorite sourdough loaf this side of the 405. Many go to grab a quick and delicious lunch and some fresh air with their coworker before returning to the office. Others still go as a last-minute solution for their friend’s birthday, and leave with a succulent from the plant guru and a soy candle smelling of lavender from the natural oils woman. I, myself, have gone for all of these reasons, and many others.
My primary driver for frequenting public markets, surprisingly enough, has nothing to do with purchasing the beautiful and/or delicious offerings. Rather I go for a far more basic reason. I go for people. I go for the hub of energy and activity that the market brings to a space. I go, simply, for the experience.
And experience? That doesn’t cost a dime.
For obvious reasons, I’ll recommend the Farmers Market at Pershing Square, which occurs every Wednesday from 10 am until 2pm. It offers an array of produce, fresh foods, artisanal goods, and culinary masterpieces, everything from pupusas – a must-try – to sushirritos. Attracting a diverse crowd of Downtown residents, tourists, and office workers each week, it’s the perfect place to people watch and spend part of your Wednesday.
If you’re ready for more, check out these other public markets happening in DTLA:
Pershing Square, every Wednesday at lunchtime
Historic District (5th St between Broadway and Spring), every Sunday morning
Bunker Hill (Bank of America plaza), every Friday at lunchtime
Fig @ 7th, every Thursday at lunchtime
Arts District (3rd and Traction), every Saturday afternoon
Smorgasburg Los Angeles (8th and Alameda), every Sunday at lunchtime
We try to be hip, but sometime we miss things… did we forget any markets? Let us know! Email email@example.com