This material is used by permission of Ohio University Press,

  • circa 1915
  • 59 Spruce Street
  • Renovation: Feinknopf Macioce Schappa, Columbus, 1995

Located on the east side of North Front Street between Vine and Spruce streets, the North Market is the city’s only remaining enclosed public market. Columbus once had four public markets—Central, East, North, and West. Central was the earliest, built in 1850 on the west side of South Fourth Street between Rich and Town streets. The others followed soon after as the city grew outward. The original North Market was a brick building from the 1880s that burned in the 1940s. In order to keep the market’s merchants in business, the city quickly built a new North Market in the form of a large Quonset hut, which was intended as a temporary structure.

“Temporary” can last a long time, and by the late 1980s the old metal hut was well past its prime. By that time, however, with all the other public markets long gone, the City of Columbus realized the value of and the interest in public markets. The high-quality goods offered by the North Market’s small independent merchants had really caught on with city (and suburban) residents; as a result, the North Market Development Authority was formed to create a new home for the market.

A former threshing machine factory/warehouse immediately west of the Quonset hut proved the ideal solution. With an interesting interior structure of wood and steel, abundant windows to provide natural light so lacking in the old market, good vertical and horizontal clearances to enable movement of crowds, and a second level for office, restaurant, and dining space, the building underwent a thorough rehabilitation and opened in 1995. The site of the Quonset hut is now the parking lot to the east of the market.

Public markets are lively, noisy, and interesting places to visit. While you are visiting, be sure to sample the freshly made food specialties of the individual merchants, and don’t miss the display on the history of the city’s public markets on the second floor. An outdoor market is held on Saturdays from early summer to late fall under the new canopy on the east side of the market.