A new food market is housed at reclaimed archway beneath Manhattan Bridge, by Alexandra Forbes

New York already has its fare share of street markets – the best one being the greenmarket at Union Square. But New York’s newest food market, in Dumbo, will still be a very welcome addition and is sure to make waves.

What’s most special about it is the location. Starting at the end of June, Dumbo’s market – currently held on Sundays on Main Street at the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park - is slated to be held at the beautiful Dumbo underpass, a space beneath the Manhattan bridge that only recently was opened to the public.

The Archway is a 7,000 square feet tunnel paved with historic Belgian block and boasting 45' height. It sat behind closed gates for 17 years, when itserved as storage space for the city’s Department of Transportation.

The non-profit Dumbo Improvement District has spent nearly $200,000 to bring The Archway back to the public domain Rogers Marvel Architects and Jim Conti Lighting Design were comissioned to provide adequate walkway lighting and benches that incorporate the existing remaining storage brackets. Exposed Belgian blocks form The Archway's base, and lights were used to highlight the graceful vaulted ceiling.

Alan G. Brake recently wrote in The Architect’s Newspaper : “Much of the new programming, including the market, has yet to be formally announced pending city approvals, according to the district, which emphasizes that discussions with public officials are ongoing. (...) The reopening of the historic archway, which is already publicly accessible, marks a significant milestone for advocates who have slowly been reclaiming the urban fabric around the bridge’s piers. The new space would offer a stunning—if provisional—backdrop for the New Amsterdam Market, a project spearheaded by Robert LaValva, a former planner for the Department of City Planning who has evangelized for the role public markets can play as both civic gathering spaces and a key link in the sustainable supply chain. (...) LaValva ultimately envisions a permanent showcase of purveyors that runs year-round indoors and offers a wide variety of goods, similar to the Borough Market in London or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market."

The parallel with London’s Borough Market is quite relevant. The same way the London Bridge is a crucial factor in the history of the Borough Market and of London itself, the Manhattan Bridge’s opening, 100 years ago, expanded commerce and civic life beyond Manhattan island. If the New Amsterdam market were to relocate permanently to The Archway, the markets would have similar waterside locations under their respective city’s most iconic bridges.

For more information: Dumbo Improvement District’s site.
Images: courtesy of Dumbo Improvement District.