Thursday, July 21, 2011
The historical Reading Terminal Market was one of the first places my mom and I visited on our job interview/tourist visit to Philadelphia in 2007, when we didn't even know how to correctly pronounce 'Reading'. I fell in LOVE with this place (yes, Dad, I know I'm only supposed to love people, not things) from our first visit and have taken almost every visitor there to peruse and eat our way through the blocks of stalls of cheese, local meats, produce, soaps, and lots of Amish (Mennonite?) goodies!
After taking photos at my favorite year-round public market for this post, I did a little research to understand its history a bit more... so let me enlighten you briefly---
1. Yes, it has SOMETHING to do with a railroad (Reading TERMINAL), being the first indoor public market in Philadelphia that was the result of the neighborhood markets moving indoors, and located conveniently along a railroad and near a port.
2. During the Great Depression it served as an escape from rationing, as the vendors did a great job continuing to bring in produce, meats, and cheese, regardless of the economic situation of the times.
(#1 and #2 paraphrased from the Market's website)
3. Then, even after I decided to post about RTM, I was introduced to sociologist Elijah Anderson's theory on so-called 'Cosmopolitan Canopies' on an interview on NPR. Read about it here. Anyways, he describes certain places in Philadelphia, especially RTM, that exist as places were diverse people come together, " and for the most part practice getting along" (source).
I can't wait to actually read Anderson's book to find out more about his ideas on how to bridge cosmopolitan canopies throughout cities.
As for today, the Reading Terminal Market serves as a gathering place for local shoppers, tourists, and citizens serving jury duty (you get a 10% discount with your juror sticker) as many of us dive back into history, back to our local farms, and back to simpler living.
So, thanks to local food, local businesses, and a rich history of urban markets, I love Philly because of Reading Terminal!