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Fulton Fish Market Moving


hillbill
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Raising Anchor

The open-air market, one of the city's iconic places, has been thriving on this spot since 1835. But early next year, after countless rumors of a move, it is finally relocating to a new $85 million, 450,000-square-foot facility in Hunts Point in the Bronx. The pending move has the market's 600 workers, many of them with decades of experience, overflowing with opinions, memories and stories.

There are also two slide shows on the page:

Audio Slide Show:

Last Days at the Fulton Fish Market

Slide Show:

Saying Goodbye to an Era

Gustatory illiterati in an illuminati land.
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Many thanks for posting that link, hillbill. It's a nice piece of "in their words" reporting by Nina Roberts. I do take issue, however, with the characterization of it as the demise of a New York institution. The institution is moving and, we hope, evolving. As one of the workers, Eddie Cruci, says:

Maybe 100 years ago this was a viable place for an open-air market, but 100 years later, we're getting squished. It's a nice venue for us up there: more space, more access for the vehicles, a controlled-temperature environment.

It's going to be great for the fish. It won't be too hot in the summer, or too cold in the winter. Hopefully that will stimulate business.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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At long last, a piece that does not purport to speak for the workers, but lets them speak for themselves. Cool.

There was an article some months ago in the Village Voice, I believe, that lamented the move as destroying the urban fabric, just as the move from Les Halles to Rungi destroyed Paris. Horse hockey on both counts. (If anyone has a chance to find the discussion here, please post the link.)

I live close enough to the Fulton Fish Market to smell it on a really hot summer day, and I pass close to it on my way to the supermarket. I will miss that smell, but so what? The foodservice industry overall has barely made it into the 20th century; why not allow this bit of it move into the 21st?

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I remember visiting the Fulton Fish Market on a freezing cold morning in the winter of 2002 - it was snowing, freezing cold - and there were still soooo many things going on there - I think the controlled environment will be a good addition to the market - but how public will it be - were the public ever allowed to by fish from there anyways?? And the new place - what about sales to the public??

Ciao,

Ore

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NY1 recently ran a segment about how many of the merchants are looking forward to the moving to the new location.

Fulton Fish Market Nearly Ready To Re-Open In The Bronx

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I remember visiting the Fulton Fish Market on a freezing cold morning in the winter of 2002 - it was snowing, freezing cold - and there were still soooo many things going on there - I think the controlled environment will be a good addition to the market - but how public will it be - were the public ever allowed to by fish from there anyways??  And the new place - what about sales to the public??

Ciao,

Ore

It was never public, at least not in the 25 years I've lived near it. In fact, "strangers" were looked on with suspicion (at least I was when I would pass by on my early-morning power walks :raz: ). The South Street Seaport Museum used to have a 6 a.m. tour once a month, but I don't think the public was otherwise welcome. It was just too dangerous (read what the guy says about the hi-los; they drive those things FAST!).

When SSSM opened its first new building, back in 1985 or so, there was a retail counter supposedly connected with the Fulton Fish Market. But since FFM is a group of many, many dealers, I don't believe it really was official, rather just someone using the name. In any case, it didn't last more than a couple of years before the true nature of the "new" SSSM (aka Rouse mall, NYC) came through.

If the new place is anything like the rest of Hunts Point, there will be no public retail. The only way an individual can get into Hunts Point to make a purchase is if he/she has an invitation from a vendor there and can prove it to multiple layers of security. Some years ago, Ted Lee and Matt Lee wrote in the NY Times about going there to buy a bag (probably a 50-pound gunny sack) of raw peanuts to boil. They had a hell of a time getting in.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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There was an article some months ago in the Village Voice, I believe, that lamented the move as destroying the urban fabric, just as the move from Les Halles to Rungi destroyed Paris. Horse hockey on both counts. (If anyone has a chance to find the discussion here, please post the link.)

Suzanne, you might be thinking about this thread here, in which one of our young "idealist" members posted some rather naive questions about the fish market's demise. He seemed quite worked up about it, but didn't really have the goods. A rebel without a cause. I don't recall him ever checking with those fish vendors in Chinatown as he promised. Poseurs like him never follow through.

Suzanne, seriosly, you think moving Les Halles was the right thing to do? Please tell me why.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Anyone know how big the facility is, relative to Tsukiji in Tokyo? Tsukiji does like 2000 tons of fish a day, but I don't know what the relative square footage is.

According to my Japan guidebook, Tsukiji covers over 56 acres of reclaimed land south of Ginza.

Math whizzes: How does that stack up to 450,000 square feet?

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According to my Japan guidebook, Tsukiji covers over 56 acres of reclaimed land south of Ginza.

Math whizzes: How does that stack up to 450,000 square feet?

That's just over 10 acres. Tsukiji is HUGE, and open - for the most part - to the public. They are surly, and all I knew were the Japanese swears (there were many of them directed at us gaijin who were running among the frozen tunas at 6 in the am.), but there were also many samples and some amazing sushi restaurants within the market.

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Reading through this topic, I get the idea that New York's wholesale fishmongers are actually a bit behind the curve.

There was a time when wholesale and retail food distribution were more closely connected in US cities, both physically and financially, but that time was quite a while ago. The rise of the supermarket severed the tie most dramatically. Ever since then, the wholesale and retail functions have been handled largely by different people, though in cities with strong public food markets such as Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia, there is still some overlap.

But because the two are largely separate, there has for some time been no really good reason for the wholesale food distribution function to be located in the middle of a dense urban district, where circulation is more difficult. And in most cities, food wholesalers have largely moved to more peripheral locations, just as Philadelphia's main wholesale food market relocated from Dock Street near the Central Philadelphia waterfront to a huge warehouse facility near the South Philadelphia port terminal in 1957. (The latter location was more easily accessible to truck traffic, thanks to the wide Delaware Avenue thoroughfare and the just-completed Walt Whitman Bridge.)

Even New York's meat and produce wholesalers had abandoned Manhattan by the mid-1960s, moving to the very part of the Bronx that the FFM will now call home.

There will of course be a sense of loss attached to this move, as there is whenever a longstanding institution meets its demise. But from the standpoint of the average food shopper or city dweller, this move should have no effect. Well, maybe there might be some extra-economic effect in Manhattan, which does not have the strong public market tradition of the other old East Coast cities (Boston's Haymarket survives in vestigial form as a retail food market even though it too no longer serves much of a wholesale function; Quincy Market, however, bears almost no trace of its original purpose, sad to say); the removal of the FFM means there is even less of a connection between the food Manhattanites eat and the people who grow or catch it.

--Sandy "thank God for the Reading Terminal Market" Smith

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Seth, actually, no, that's not the thread I was thinking of. :unsure: The thread started with a link to an article in the Voice, that was clearly under-researched. I'd look but I just don't have much time right now. In any case, don't be so hard on that young idealist; we need more like him!!!!!!!!!!!

I really don't know whether moving Les Halles was good or not; I've spent a total of 45 minutes in Paris in my entire life, and almost all of that was in a taxi going from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare du Nord. :raz:

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Many thanks for posting that link, hillbill. It's a nice piece of "in their words" reporting by Nina Roberts. I do take issue, however, with the characterization of it as the demise of a New York institution. The institution is moving and, we hope, evolving.

If you want to edit my headline and remove the word "demise" for the sake of clarity it's fine with me. I guess it's more accurately an evolution than a demise.

Gustatory illiterati in an illuminati land.
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