-9th St Italian Market Festival
-All About Fante's
-All About Philadelphia
-Maps & Travel Directions
The 9th Street Italian Market
Cart vendors serving people along the sidewalk
The oldest open-air market in the country, South Philadelphia's 9th Street Italian Market
was established in the late 1800's by Southern Italian immigrants.
It continues to be the neighborhood's most popular destination for its many outdoor stands of fresh fruits and vegetables,
for its purveyors of meats, cheeses, breads, and pastries, and for the wide variety of ethnic eateries. It is one of the most visited sites in Philadelphia by people from all over the world.
In its beginnings, the neighborhood was the favorite landing place of
a large wave of Italian immigrants because of the availability of work in the many area factories, farms, and other industries. 9th Street's Palumbo's boarding house was central to their transition. The Palumbo family gave
them a temporary home, found them work, and helped many find a permanent place
nearby in which to live.
Italians and other immigrants saw the need to fill the food and other material needs of the increased neighborhood population, and started setting up businesses.
It was customary for vendors
of produce and home goods to park their wheeled carts in front
of their home, on a busy corner, or to wheel them around the neighborhood
each day. Gradually, most vendors moved their activities from the side streets and alleys
to the busier 9th St blocks. And as the number of cart vendors, sidewalk stands,
and storefront businesses increased, the area became popularly known as
the Italian Market.
before dawn, vendors pushed their wheeled carts a mile or more to Delaware Avenue, to procure
their foodstocks and other goods from the ships docked between South Street
and Washington Avenue, so they would be ready to re-sell them on 9th
St when the day began. Lacking
refrigeration, it was necessary to buy food provisions daily, and the Italian
Market offered a convenient, centralized location and everything needed
to prepare the day's meals, as well as clothing and other household goods.
The market developed steadily, changed to suit the times, and hit its full
zenith in the 1960's. It became "Philly's supermarket", and a favorite tourist destination.
There were 30 butcher shops and 23 fish stores, and the fruit, vegetable,
and other stands extended uninterrupted from Wharton to Christian. Jewish
people sold clothing, Greeks had spice stores, and Italians the rest,
The expansion of supermarkets and department stores, the closing of the
clothing factories along Washington Ave, the steady withdrawal of homeowners
to the suburbs, and many other factors made this mostly a weekend
market, for a time.
And the number of vendors shrank, until not so long ago.
reputable specialty stores and outdoor stands have withstood the test of
time, and have thrived. New waves of immigrant have made the Market their
home, adding color and unusual foods, filling the stores, stands and street
carts. Groups of Koreans came first, then Vietnamese, Cambodians and Mexicans,
among others. As it was when Italian immigrants started it, it's
still a Market of immigrants.
The street carts still have wheels on them, canvas overhangs still
protect them from sun and rain, and corrugated roofs still cover the sidewalks.
Neon signs pervade storefront windows as they have for decades. Politicians
still come out to talk to people along the sidewalk at election time, and
celebrities still dart through the market stores regularly.
Products now come in trucks, from seaports, airports,
and from places all over the world. The wide variety of authentic ethnic
foods still abounds, and maintains the distinction and appeal that the
9th Street Italian Market has, to food lovers from everywhere.
The sidewalks are busy all day long
with shoppers, and into the night with strolling diners, as
the many quality eateries fill
with patrons from near and far. Although frequented mostly by neighbors,
it is still one of the main tourist destinations in Philadelphia.
The original Italian Market was located between Washington
Ave and Christian St on 9th, extending onto nearby streets. With the natural
expansion of stores and businesses over time, the Market is now generally
considered to extend from Wharton to Fitzwater along 9th, and spilling onto
nearby streets, with outdoor stands between Federal and Christian.
Most stores and stands
are open all day Tuesday through Saturday, until about 5pm, and also on
Sunday mornings. Most merchants still close on Mondays, as they have probably
since the beginning of the Market. After all, with leftovers from the big traditional family Sunday dinners, no one needed to shop for food on Monday, so it became a day of rest. Cart vendors begin their day around 8:00
during the week, and 7:00 on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Some stores and
most restaurants are open into the night hours.
· Exerpted from Mariella's presentation
to many tour groups who visit our store
· Also see Joan Saverino's Article and the
History of Fante's
Inside one of the
specialize in every
bread, cheese, oils, groceries, variety
and so much more
at stands line
the street, from
early morning to
and until early
A wide variety
of fresh seafood
can be found in the
all sorts can be
found here. Spices,
candies and pastries,
beans, coffee, teas
Cookbooks from the Italian Market Area
||And Now We Call It Gravy, Recipes and
memoirs on the Italian Market, by Sonny D'Angelo
|History, tastes and the culinary wonders that were once
prevalent, and the evolution of Italian-American cuisine through family
recipes, with their quirks, passions and preferences. Sonny owns a meat
market on 9th St.
138 pages, top-spiral bound on cardboard easel-back.
95 recipes included, from appetizers to desserts.