Shop - Local Food
The West Side Market History
While you can purchase locally grown and made food all across the city, there is one place that is perhaps the best aggregator local food in the city – The West Side Market.
The West Side Market
is Cleveland’s premier public market – while the city hosts a variety of farmers and other outdoor markets, the West Side Market is the most historically valued and most visited public market in the city.
November 2, 2012 marked the 100th year since the market has opened, and the historic structure stands as a memory of Cleveland’s historic past, culturally diverse present, and promising commercial future. Centennial events began on October 7th, a rare Sunday opening for the market, included music by local artists, a street festival and parade. Celebrations continued over the following weeks, finishing with a gala dinner on the 2nd with food prepared by local chefs including a celebration dinner by Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer. With over 100 vendors attracting over 1 million visitors a year, the West Side Market has earned past accolades as the designation of “Best Food Lovers Market” in the country by the Food Network in 2010 and one of 10 great public places according to the American Planning Association in 2008.
The Market’s origins date back to 1840, when two gentlemen named Josiah Barker and Richard Lord granted the then-separate municipality Ohio City a tract of land with the condition that the land be used for a public market site. In 1868, a wooden marketplace was erected. In 1902, the city purchased the site across the road from the original location to erect the massive yellow-brick building we now recognize as the West Side Market. The final structure you see today was designed by Benjamin Hubbel and W. Dominick Benes, architects known for their other designs such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and Wade Chapel in Lakeview Cemetery.
The market’s success is tied in part to its diverse selection of the produce and groceries offered and the variety of culturally inspired food options. The diverse food options reflect the diversity of Cleveland. Vendors at the market include those of German, Slovene, Greek, Russian, Italian, Polish and Middle Eastern descents. The result is a place that sells Polish/Slovenian sausage yards away from crepes as well as a Middle-Eastern goods store.
As Ohio City flourishes, recent developments blend new styles with old and the market relies as much on the people and fabric of Ohio City as the people rely on the market. The plaza across West 25th from the market has been renovated into a modern park with performance space. Across the corner from the market, the old United Bank Building has been transformed into one of Cleveland’s signature restaurants, Crop Bistro and Bar. The bank building was designed by Walker & Weeks, the same firm responsible for most notably Severance Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.
Perhaps what is most notable about the market is how it represents the relationship between Cleveland’s people and Cleveland’s structures. The market embodies a quality found in Cleveland of continuing traditions with historic places while updating their context to reflect contemporary trends and values. West 25th and the near west side of Ohio City is an urbanist haven for young professionals and empty-nesters that thrive in the bones of the past century. The recent brewery boom that includes locations such as Market Garden Brewery, Bar Cento and the anchor that is the Great Lakes Brewing Company along with the various local retail businesses thrive in concert with the West Side Market. The West Side Market is an excellent example of Cleveland’s fondness for our history and desire to develop our tastes for modern, diverse food and activities held in places that embody the best parts of the past – a place where people can get together, form memories and best of all, eat.