Monday, June 29, 2009

Eastern Market - Grand Re-Opening

It's back! After the original building was nearly destroyed in a fire in 2007, Eastern Market, 2.0 reopened this past weekend (June 26-28, 2009) and drew massive crowds. It seemed like every farmer's market-loving family throughout the District was there enjoying the festivities and the rebirth of Capitol Hill's finest non-tourist attraction. Since J and I are relatively new to the area, we never knew the "old" Eastern Market. However, we did frequent the temporary set-up, and it goes without saying that version 2.0 is bigger and better than ever.

In addition to the historic indoor (and now air-conditioned) building, the outdoor flea market space is filled with vendors and artists of every background. The temporary market that many of us remember from the last 2 years can't compare to what has replaced it. They simply aren't in the same league. Many, if not all, of the old standbys have reclaimed their familiar indoor spots, including our favorite Market Lunch. More notable is that what used to be a somewhat pedestrian farmer's market is now its own village, with a high density sprawl of tents and booths that stretch a block or two in each direction.

Besides the increase in vendors, the thing that was so noticeable and heart-warming was the tremendous response from the community. Opening weekend had a palpable sense of pride in the air. The scene was filled with parents and children reveling in an old-fashioned block party of sorts. Families and friends sitting on the sidewalks enjoying fresh fruit on a warm summer day begged for Norman Rockwell to show up to capture these classic scenes of Americana. This was a day where people came together and took ownership of their city, celebrating a common place that reflects the history and diversity that makes up DC.

It should also be mentioned that among the hustle and bustle was an exhibit in the north end of the building that detailed the history and reconstruction of the market. We also saw that tours were being given.

Clearly, opening weekend is a high point for Eastern Market and the crowds in coming months and years will not reach such heights. However, you can count us as two locals who fully intend on making Eastern Market a regular part of our DC life. Welcome home!

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