multi-policy community development:
cultural infrastructure, historic preservation, economic development
NYC / East Harlem / El Barrio
about La Marqueta:
LA MARQUETA was established in 1936 by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as an innovative, City-operated response to what had become an extraordinary informal market of pushcart vendors assembled on the 5 consecutive lots beneath the Park Avenue Metro North Railway trestle between 111th and 116th streets:
“Five newly completed buildings that will house a modern, sanitary market where formerly a maze of pushcarts cluttered Park Avenue, from 111th to 116th Street, were opened yesterday morning by Mayor La Guardia. The Mayor said, ‘…and now instead of a food market this is really a market bazaar.” [New York Times, May 5, 1936]
This area of Manhattan, known as El Barrio / East Harlem / Spanish Harlem, is a low income predominantly minority community that has been widely celebrated as a Latino cultural capital while also being a home to significant populations of other ethnic minorities, including African Americans, other communities of the Caribbean and Americas and, increasingly, Asian immigrants and their families.
It is estimated that as many as 500 vendors were operating out of La Marqueta during the 1950s and 60s. Sadly, with the onslaught of state and federal governments’ infamous “Urban Renewal” policies, the great La Marqueta declined. Most of the original buildings have since been lost.
Today, La Marqueta is literally a shell of itself. Two remaining buildings onsite house few vendors and support very little foot traffic. Two of the parcels where buildings once stood are fenced up and prohibit foot traffic. In an effort to re-ignite foot traffic, the third parcel has become a plaza used for community programs including the Vendy Plaza outdoor market series. Fortunately, many of the area’s original residents remain, care deeply about the site, and maintain cherished memories of its La Marqueta’s community vitality.
In 2014, third-term NYC Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito became the first Latina Speaker of the City Council and, as representative of the District, continued to bring her leadership to La Marqueta’s redevelopment. In 2015, placeful. was brought in to lead the redevelopment effort and leverage additional public and private funds. Over the last two years, the “La Marqueta” project has held numerous community workshops, conducted independent market analyses, and hosted multiple funder convenings. To date, over $13 million has been dedicated to implement a community-driven agenda for the revitalization of this critical asset of the East Harlem neighborhood and its rich heritage. At its core, the agenda calls for creating a revitalized, 21st Century marketplace in a vibrant commercial corridor that can address the community’s needs across a variety of areas of public policy, including support for local businesses, workforce development, health & nutrition and arts & culture.
New York City Council
Empire State Development Corporation
Local Initiative Support Corporation
New York Community Trust
The Kresge Foundation
New York City Dept. of Small Business Services