The Italian Market, officially known as the South 9th Street Curb Market, is America’s oldest outdoor market. One of the most popular attractions of the South Philadelphia neighborhood, the Italian Market is a bustling environment full of locals and tourists alike. Take a step back in time in the marketplace, and enjoy the same artisan products that have been cherished for generations. Many of the products are handmade from the same recipes used for decades. There are many different types of history on display throughout Philadelphia, and the market is one of the most lively and unusual. Whether you're looking for cheese, pasta, fish, or meet, if it’s Italian, you’ll find it at the Italian Market in Philadelphia.
The 9th Street Italian Market hasn’t changed much over the years—and that’s regarded a good thing. The most famous of all Philadelphia markets has gone unchanged since current residents' parents, and even grandparents, perused the stalls. Many stalls are family-owned and have been passed down through the generations. This area of South Philadelphia was once a highly industrialized area, attracting European immigrants as workers, many of which were from Italy, Germany, and Ireland. The Italian population has remained and continues to operate one of the most popular attractions in all of Philadelphia, the market.
This South Philadelphia market has expanded to include foods that cater to the surrounding ethnic populations. The last decades has seen the Hispanic population grow significantly, and therefore, new shops around the market cater to this type of food. The Italian Market in Philadelphia began in the late nineteenth century, when Italian immigrants began to form the marketplace to cater to their community. While the market is bustling most days, there are festivals throughout the year that draw an exceptionally large crowd. The Italian Market festival brings music, activities, and of course food, along with a lively atmosphere, to the neighborhood.
Not all Philadelphia markets are outdoors like the Italian Market, so be prepared for varying temperatures. Awnings shield customers from the worst of elements, and the market is open year-round, rain, snow, or shine. Generally, the shops remain open from 9 am to 5 pm and are closed on Mondays. Visitors should avoid visiting the Italian Market in Philadelphia on Monday as they will miss out on a significant amount of the action. Many other attractions in Philadelphia are open on Mondays, including Boathouse Row in Fairmount Park and Eastern State Penitentiary.
Visitors should be aware that Philadelphia markets often showcase some unusual things. The Italian Market has become famous for being able to see the butchers do some of their work. So if you’re squeamish about animals hanging from the rafters, then this may not be the Philadelphia attraction for you. It is possible to avoid these components of the market, if you keep your eye out as your proceed along 9th Street between Fitzwater Street to the north and Wharton Street at the south. Long associated as one of the most famous cultural symbols of Philadelphia, the Italian Market is one of the most popular activities for new visitors to the historic city and a great place to get in touch with the unique personality of South Philly.
Image: R. Kennedy for GPTMC