For my final project, I created a web exhibit on Center Market for the National Archives’ Office of the Historian.
The good news is that the exhibit is fully coded in Dreamweaver using HTML5 and CSS!
The bad news is that it is not online (yet). The exhibit will be hosted by the National Archives after all of the photographs have been loaded into the National Archives’ Online Public Access database.
Although I can’t give you a link to the website, I can do the next best thing!
[Drum roll please]
Presenting an exclusive sneak peak of: A Capital Market: Washington D.C.’s Center Market!
Screenshot of the Exhibit Homepage. The navigation bar includes links to “Exhibit Home,” “History,” “Inside the Market,” “Outside the Market,” and “Flickr Gallery”
Washington D.C.’s Center Market
“The great focus of interest, the one-time social center, place of endless entertainment, is gone and can never be restored…Another generation will have no concept of the significance of the site on which they stand.” -The Washington Evening Star, May 17, 1931
Located near the United States Capitol, Center Market occupied valuable and symbolic space in the heart of Washington D.C. Center Market was well named; the market stood at the center of the physical city, but it also served as a social center. Individuals of different ages, classes, races, and gender came together in the public marketplace.
Throughout its history, Center Market was loud and lively. Center Market’s vibrant and chaotic history can be recaptured through photographs, maps, and documents stored in the National Archives.
Screenshot of the History page
The History of Center Market
“One seldom sees it illustrated on picture postals, yet the Market has played an intimate part in the lives of our citizens from Presidents and other great men of our nation down to the humblest citizen.”
– Boston Cooking School Magazine, 1915
In 1797, President George Washington designated two acres in the heart of Washington City for use as a public marketplace. For the next 134 years, Center Market was a Washington D.C. landmark on Pennsylvania Avenue where the National Archives Building now stands.
Center Market opened for business in 1801. Public markets were common in early American cities. Markets provided city-dwellers with fresh produce, and gave country farmers a place to sell their goods. In its earliest days, Center Market was no more than a collection of ramshackle wooden sheds. Bordered by the Washington Canal, the swampy land earned it the nickname “Marsh Market”. Early Washingtonians recalled hunting wild ducks in the wetlands near the market, and purchasing live fish from the Canal.
As the city of Washington D.C. grew, so did complaints about the dirt and disorder of the public market. A group of investors formed the private Washington Market Company in 1870. The Market Company hired prominent architect Adolf Cluss to design a modern new building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The ornate Victorian market building attracted thousands of customers a day. Streetcar lines from all corners of the city converged at the market. During the early twentieth century, the market added a billiards room, bowling alley, and a dance hall for community events.
Center Market returned to public ownership in 1921, managed by the Department of Agriculture. However, this arrangement was short-lived. Center Market was located at the tip of the Senate Park (McMillan) Commission Plan’s proposed Federal Triangle. The Commission envisioned a unified city of white marble and monuments centered on a majestic and magnified National Mall. 
In 1931, the government demolished the red brick Victorian Center Market building and began construction of the National Archives Building.
Screenshot of “Inside the Market” page. The page will feature a tabbed gallery of four images from inside the marketplace.
Inside the Market
The interior of Center Market featured over 600 modern market stalls featuring elaborate displays and high quality goods such as cured meats, baked goods, and flower arrangements.
Designed to appeal to middle-class marketers, the market building was thoroughly modern and hygienic. The facility boasted high ceilings with ventilated skylights, electric lighting, cold-storage vaults, and a spacious café.
“A Birds-Eye View of Part of the Fruits and Vegetable Section of Center Market”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-3575
This photograph shows the interior of Center Market as it looked in 1915. Although the market may appear empty, the photographer noted that the crowds of people moved too quickly to be captured on the glass negative!
“Plan on the Center Market and the Washington Market Company, c. 1869”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: RG 46; SEN 43A-E17
Architect Adolf Cluss presented this plan to Congress in 1874. He eventually abandoned the proposal for a grand hotel in the market, but did include restaurants and retail stores in the space.
“Young Boy Tending Freshly Stocked Fruit and Vegetable Stand at Center Market, 02/18/1915”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-21
This market stall advertises fresh Florida oranges. Stalls inside Center Market typically featured elaborate displays and high quality goods.
“An Attractive Display of Cured Meats”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-6126
A group of women shop at Center Market in October, 1922. In the 1920’s, the Department of Agriculture used the market to test new innovations including refrigerated display cases, machinery, and employee uniforms.
Screenshot of “Outside the Market” page. The page will feature a tabbed gallery of four images from outside of the marketplace.
Outside the Market
Center Market’s exterior was just as bustling and crowded as its interior. Farmers’ wagons, trucks, and automobiles lined the curb outside of the market selling fresh country produce.
For a nominal fee, street vendors, or “hucksters,” could sell wares outside of Center Market. Hucksters packed the streets around the market, hawking seasonal goods, greenery, and even preparing food at open-air restaurants.
“Front View of 7th Street Entrance to Center Market”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-6124
Washingtonians of all ages pass Center Market in 1922. The pressed brick market building faced a public square on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Aerial Photograph of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 18-AA-151-35
Center Market is visible to the far right of this photograph. The aerial photograph, taken by the Army Air Corps, reveals the massive size of the public marketplace.
“Photograph of the Farmers Line Outside of Center Market”
U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 83-G-16314A
Streetcars, automobiles, horse-drawn wagons, and pedestrians all packed the backside of Center Market. Farmers drove wagons filled with produce from the country into the city on market days. Farmers either sold the goods in covered stalls outside of the market or right out of their wagons.
“At Center Market. 11-year-old celery vendor. He sold until 11 P.M. and was out again Sunday morning selling papers and gum. Has been in this country only half a year. Washington, D.C., 04/13/1912” U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 102-LH-2928
Lewis Hine took this photograph of a young street vendor for the National Child Labor Committee. Hine and other Progressive Era activists used photography as a medium for social reform. 
The Exhibit also links to a Flickr gallery of historic photographs of Center Market
 Washington Topham, “Centre Market and Vicinity,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society,Washington D.C., 26 (1924): 56.
 Helen Tangires, Public Markets and Civic Culture in Nineteenth-Century America, (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 3-4.
 James M. Goode, Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington’s Destroyed Buildings, (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 331. Thomas E. Luebke, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013), 2, 9, 26.
 Alan Lessoff, and Christof Mauch, Adolf Cluss Architect: From Germany to America, (Bergamot Books, 2005)
 Lessoff, and Mauch, 160
 For more information on Lewis Hine see: Alan Trachtenberg, Reading American Photographs: Images as History Mathew Brady to Walker Evans, (Hill and Wang, 1989), 164-230.
National Archives and Records Administration. “Witness the Past in Modern-Day Washington, DC, the Penn QuarterNeighborhood.” Tour. Historypin, n.d.http://www.historypin.com/tours/view/id/7769251.
Brown, Elspeth H., Catherine Gudis, and Marina Moskowitz, eds. Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960. Palgrave MacMillan, 2006.
Goode, James M. Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington’s Destroyed Buildings. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.
Hoagland, Alison K. “Seventh Street/Downtown: A Place to Live and Work.” In Washington at Home: An Illustrated History of Neighborhoods in the Nation’s Capital, edited by Kathryn Schneider Smith, 53–70. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Random House, 1993.
Lessoff, Alan, and Christof Mauch, eds. Adolf Cluss Architect: From Germany to America. Bergamot Books, 2005.
Luebke, Thomas E., ed. Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Washington D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013.
McWilliams, James E. “Diversity: Refined Crudeness in the Middle Colonies.” In A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America, 167–199. Columbia University Press, 2005.
Moskowitz, Marina. “Backyards and Beyond: Landscapes and History.” In History and Material Culture: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources, edited by Karen Harvey , 67–84. Routledge, 2009.
Murdock, Graham. The Idea of the Public Sphere. Edited by Jostein Gripsud, Hallvard Moe, and Anders Molander. Lexington Books, 2010.
National Museum of American History. “America on the Move: Center Market,” http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/exhibition/exhibition_4_2.html
Shephard, Robert J. When Culture Goes to Market. Peter Lang Publishing, 2008.
Tangires, Helen. “Contested Space: The Life and Death of Center Market. “Washington History 7, no. 1 (Spring–Summer 1995): 46–67.
Tangires, Helen. Public Markets and Civic Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Topham, Washington. “Centre Market and Vicinity. “Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington D.C. 26 (1924): 1–88.
Trachtenberg, Alan. Reading American Photographs: Images as History Mathew Brady to Walker Evans. Hill and Wang, 1989.