Union Market Continues to Engage Local Residents Amid Community Changes

By: Kyle Hudson

Washington, D.C. is home to some of the nation’s most historic sites.  From the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the bustling streets of Adam’s Morgan, the District’s culture is constantly flourishing and changing its face. In fact, one of D.C.’s most popular attractions did a complete 360 degree change.

Debuting in 1931, Union Terminal Market, known today as Union Market, opened it’s doors to the public. The market featured spacious stalls to accommodate 700 vendors, cold storage units, elevators, and an eating area. The vendors included a variety of fish, meat, and dairy stations.  However, due to D.C.’s ban on the outdoor sales of meat and eggs in 1962, the majority of the market’s foot traffic diminished.  Shortly after in 1967, Union Market transitioned from an outdoor market to an indoor market. When dilapidated industrial spaces began to show signs of weathering, Union Market took an economic downturn which resulted in the facility’s closing. Yet in 2012, EDENS, a retail shopping center development company, revamped the market making it a popular attraction.

In 2017 Union Market stands in the same spot and features culinary cuisines from all different cultures and regions. McKinley Technology High School located minutes away from Union Market. For years students have use the market as an after school hangout.

“It’s important for all students to learn about and participate in other cultures.  In an area where a trip across the world isn’t a luxury, Union Market served as that place we could go to experience new lifestyles and cultures,” said Oliver Borris, a  junior at North Carolina A&T and graduate of McKinley Technology High School.

Another McKinley Alum said that she and her friends used the market for a different purpose.

Rae’von Tate, a sophomore at Norfolk State University, said she preferred the market’s vast art scene. “I’ve never really been adventurous with food so my friends and I would go to the market to have photo shoots and to admire the variety of artwork throughout the area.”

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Not only is Union Market a center of culinary cuisines, but it is also filled with artwork created by renowned artists.  Pictured above is a mural done by street artist Mr. Brainwash who created this piece for last year’s International Women’s Day.  Murals similar to this one are featured throughout the entire grounds of the market.

Native Washingtonians were initially skeptical of Union Market’s revamping as a result of the fast-growing gentrification going on in the city.  However, Union Market supports over 40 local based vendors and hosts events that are accessible to all members of the D.C. community.

“I thought it would be another one of those big projects that turns into another big project and so on and so forth until you don’t even recognize the neighborhood anymore. I’m glad to see Union Market benefiting all residents of the city and not just the new ones,” said Robyn Cohen Hudson,  a native Washingtonian.

Upholding its purpose since the late 1800s, Union Market stands by its mission to service and support the people of Washington, D.C.

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