The layers of information about the area surrounding Hine Junior High School where The Flea Market at Eastern Market occurs was derived from historical maps of Washington DC that describe the evolution of the site and the systems that were designed to make this area the seat of the government.

In 1790 the Residence Act was passed by Congress to create the national capitol between the Potomac River and the Eastern Branch or Anacostia River. Land was donated by Maryland and Virginia for the federal city, which was already being used as farmland.  The map below shows the land owned by Dan Carroll Duddington in 1793.  As a landowner he owned one of the largest manor homes that in addition to the residence included a smokehouse, spring house, stable yard, log house, and frame hen-house.   Except for a handful of wealthy Englishman who amassed wealth from the East India Trade who settled with wharves along the Anacostia River, Capitol Hill was mainly for working and middle class residents.  

1792



The Sandborn Fire Insurance Maps from Washington DC 1904, sourced from the Library of Congress, provide detailed information about the type of  construction that was used to develop the city.  Most of the row houses were built of brick (pink) with either a metal or frame cornice or stone front and an iron chimney.       Many buildings were also frame buildings (yellow) for low-income working class residences because of the cheaper construction.  For example of some of these typical buildings see photos from 8th Street between B and C.  Frame buildings were also used for stables (shown with an X) and one story storage buildings in the backyards of the row houses.   Looking at the neighborhood directly around what is today Eastern Market and Hine School you can see that the row houses remain, but many of the businesses along Pennsylvania Avenue have changed.  Some of the businesses on the north side of the street included Plumber, B.L. Simpson Wood & Coal Yard, Livery, Hay & Feed, Paints/Oils, Printer, and Blacksmith.   Some of the businesses on the south side were Paint, Furniture, Tin Shop, drugstore.  Much of the Capitol Hill neighborhood was occupied by workers of the government at the Navy Yard ship building, and later ordinance manufacturing that attracted unskilled labor.  The streets were designed with large widths for transportation and access to light.  The underground pipes and hydrants clearly marked.


area map
photophoto-1
Pierre L’Enfant’s plan for the city gradually was built out as urbanization replaced agriculture.  The map below shows the overlay of the planned city with the agricultural land.  A map from 1873 color codes the pavement construction around the District.  Capitol Hill was still not as developed as other parts of the city at the time, but it does show the stone pavement extending from the Capitol Building down Pennsylvania Ave that leads to Eastern Market.  The street car and later the metro system was integrated as public transportation down Pennsylvania Ave.  Public transportation allowed people to live farther away from where they worked.

1893 ovr 1792

The location where The Flea Market currently takes place was the site of the first of eight purpose-built schools in the city as decreed in 1864 by Mayor Richard Wallach Jr.  Most schools prior to this were located in rented rooms and makeshift buildings.  Adolf Cluss designed the schools and also Eastern Market located across the street.   Eastern High which later became Hine Junior High and Towers Elementary School were built behind Wallach School.   A fire station was almost located on this site as well, but was instead located next to Eastern Market.    Wallach School was deemed outdated and torn down in 1949 and replaced with Hine Middle School.  Hine Middle School, now vacant since 2007 due to low attendance is now slated for redevelopment.   Franklin School remains as a survivor of the original schools.

The fire station, No. 8 Engine , was the only station in the South East quadrant of the city and opened in 1889 at the request of the chief engineer of the fire department, Joseph Parris.  The station had two horse-drawn vehicles, a steam-powered d fire engine, a horse and reel carriage built by local carriage makers.  After the adoption of motor vehicles, the horses were phased out of operation and in 1964 the fire company moved to another location for more space.  The fire house was torn down and six years later the Rumsey Aquatic Center opened.  You can see the fire station on the Sandborn map above to the left of Eastern Market on North Carolina Avenue.

Ironically, after the fire station was gone as an adjacent neighbor, Eastern Market suffered damage from a fire in 2007.  It was rebuilt to a higher building standard to preserve it within the community.  The South Hall was originally designed by Adolf Cluss with the North Hall added in 1908 by Snowden Ashford. It was the first of three public markets built in 1805 by Presidential Proclamation, originally located near Navy Yard between K and L Street SE; it was relocated in 1873 to the Cluss building.  The building was designated as a DC historic landmark and placed on the national register of historic places.  The renovation was completed by Robert Silman Associated and Quinn Evans Architects.  The restoration process allowed a previously hidden skylight to be revealed.  During construction Hine Junior High School temporarily housed a market annex.

C Street between 7th and 8th Street is an interesting location where the street access has been blocked with Hine School Yard.  Instead of the eighty foot wide street, a smaller alley remains where the fenced in parking lot of the school extends the length of the block.  This makes for dead-end at C Street, but acts as the entrance to the Hine School Yard Parking and the Flea Market.  Some of the row houses, many of which now contain businesses along  7th Street, were removed.  There is no corner termination, but rather the row houses appear to be lopped off and some opportunistic windows appear in what would otherwise be a party-wall.

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On many older maps, such as an 1872 Stranger’s Guide to Washington DC,  markets such as Eastern Market were not highlighted as  points of interest.  It was not until relatively recently that this place has become a  tourist destination. Most of the sites that would be called out would be public buildings such as museums, churches, hospitals and military areas.  Places that were called out included the marine barracks were located just south of the market with Navy Yard beyond.  A map from 1861 shows the city plan extending out to the farmland and the density of the buildings increasing.  1861 density,farms


The Flea Market at Eastern Market is located where many things such as the first public market and public school were developed to serve a diverse community.  It was and still is a town center for the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  The layers of history accumulated through  maps gives  insight into how the area was different from today.  The hand of government was integral into the formation of public health, safety and welfare in the formation of the physical city.

     Capitol Hill is a place of rituals, some occurring daily, weekly, and seasonally.  Many of these cultural, religious and political rituals occur within walking or biking distance of home or work.  Visiting the vendors at Hine School yard on Sundays you can see the turnover of goods sold by observing the changing merchandise displays. Dominant features within the landscape that define this neighborhood also involve turnover of goods or services.  Some of the spaces serve multiple functions.
     The holiday season has brought new goods into the community with Christmas decorations, cards, ornaments, trees and wreaths. A long chain link fenced in concrete slab adjacent to the Hine School yard sells hundreds of Christmas trees.  Many of these trees, wreaths, and garlands are literally walked down the street and put up in windows and on doors.  The Salvation Army volunteer continuously rings his bell and chants, “Help the Salvation Army so we can help others,” while musicians play carols across the street.
     Crossing Pennsylvania Ave. a glimpse down one of L’Enfant’s monumental boulevards towards the Capitol Building reminds you why this is all here, the bureaucracy of government.  The community grew between 1799 and 1810 as the federal government employed construction workers at the Capitol Building and craftsman for building and repairing ships at Washington Navy Yard.  Boarding houses within walking distance to the Capitol were preferred by members of Congress rather than setting up permanent residences.   Between 1890 and 1910 a real estate development boom occurred as this neighborhood was one of the first with modern conveniences of electricity, piped water, and plumbing.   In 1976, The Capitol Hill Historic District designated this neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.  Approximately 35,000 people live within two square miles, including members of Congress, their staff, lobbyists and journalists. A third of all members of Congress live on Capitol Hill during their time in Washington.  Congressional staffers continue the tradition of boarding house lifestyle of renting row houses. Many people in their twenties and thirties live together for years in fraternal fashion due to the expensive rent.  Those who can afford it, such as lobbyists, buy into the neighborhood.  On the “house” side (House of Representatives), companies have purchased row houses to hold political events.
     The dense residential neighborhood is comprised of blocks of row houses and manors.  Church steeples punctuate the skyline, rising above the the two or three story Federal and Victorian style row houses. There appear to be an abundance of churches within the community, located just a block or so apart from each other. While walking on Sundays you can hear church bells ring, calling to worship the congregation.   The weekly services include Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Lutheran, Methodist, Non/Interdenominational, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist.  While the majority of Congressional members are Protestant or Catholic, they typically return to their districts on the weekend.  The church congregations reflect the resident community. Many of the churches were built between 1868 and 1893, typically segregated by race. The most well known church that was split and continues to exist segregated on the same block is Capitol Hill United Methodist and Little Ebenezer Church.  Cultural and traditional religious beliefs that differ between young and old parishiners appear to keep these congregations separate, but they have formed the Ebenezer-Capitol Hill Cooperative Parish to work towards accepting diversity.  Many churches are turning over as the community demographics change, renovating or selling. The neighborhood is gentrifying into a dominantly white middle class neighborhood with a declining percentage of African Americans since the 1970’s.
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     Small corner markets such as Capitol Hill Supermarket act as general stores, providing convenience to this community with just two large supermarkets, Safeway and Harris Teeter, located at the periphery.  Martin’s Market on 3rd and F Street NE, run by Korean owners, is conveniently located just a block or two away from home when you need a quart of milk.   For those urbanites without a car this is essential. The markets tend to have densely packed shelves and sell a vast array of non-essential essentials such as ice cream bars, wine, beer and of course limes.  They cater to their community.Print
     Coffee shops are found in close proximity to the the Capitol Building and the federal office buildings along Independence Ave., mostly along Pennsylvania Ave.  Starbucks even acts as a place for meetings for staffers.  The coffee shops represent a daily social ritual, but are also utilized to conduct business.   Ebenezer’s Coffee Shop, located at F Street NE and 2nd Street NE, is owned and operated by National Community Church, with proceeds going to community outreach projects.  Wondering why books with religious titles were on display at checkout led to this discovery.  Small services occur in the basement of the shop as well as live music. This coffee shop was intended to be “a place where the church and community could cross paths” modeled after Jesus’s example of frequenting wells that also served as gathering places.Capitol_Hill_coffee1
     The wells at the local bars are regularly visited by local residents and staffers.  Thursdays tend to be college night for football and when Congress is not in session arrival to work the following day is a little more relaxed so people come in a little later than normal.  Fridays typically have an after work staffer crowd for happy hour.  Saturdays nights are usually a different crowd of non-government residents.  Many government workers live outside the District and hence absent from the community on the weekend.  The bars also adopt sports teams and with that relationships a steady flow of regular customers.  Collegiate football is on Saturdays and Professional football is on Sundays.  Union Pub is a Florida State and Chicago Bears bar frequented religiously at least once week.     Capitol Lounge hosts the Detroit Lions while The Pour House hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers.  These bars are second homes to some residents, within walking distance or a short taxi home.  They come wearing their baseball hats in allegiance to their teams.
Capitol_Hill_Bars
Many of the neighborhood rituals and patterns exist because of the walkable distance between places that offer goods or services.    Frequenting the neighborhood haunts it becomes apparent that these places host many of the interractions that help create the tight knit network of residents throughout the day and week.
*Ebenezer, not the Charles Dicken’s character, is defined as “Stone of Help”
     Most of the interactions around the two large tables are brief encounters that last less than a minute in length.  They are conversations that are not always complete thoughts, but fragments and pieces of communication between two or three people.    Some conversations  are small lessons with a foray into history such as those between a parent and a child.  Some conversations are purely about making a transaction, while others are banter between people who see each other regularly with familiarity.  This is a record of what was within earshot, and at times it feels a bit like eavesdropping despite the location in a public place.  People converse quite intimately as they pass through the space, two women even sharing a kiss when nobody is watching.  The loudness of everything happening around this specific place within the whole event ebbs and flows over the recorded time period drowning out conversations.
00:00
Boy: Mommy
Mother: uh huh
Boy: Mommy, I really I really like the three back there.
Mother to daughter: See like they might have printed the newspaper.  You know when printing the newspaper they had a typeset.
Boy: I really like the three.
Mother: You like the what?
Boy: The three
Mother: The …the “E”
Boy:That’s an “E?”
Mother: Yeah.  Oh it might be a three.  Oh, you might be right.  No it is probably a three.
Daughter:And then that’s a two!
Mother: Yeah. Kind of funky font though, right?  Kinda squiggly.
Boy: I like it.
***
Woman: Look at this one Cal, for Mom.  It’s a dump truck. Jerry’s shoebox.  Those are more fun.
Daughter:Look at this one.
Woman: Too bad it doesn’t say like Jerry’s Bakery Box. These are kinda cool.  Honor roll
Does it say honor roll? Look at this one.
02:30
Woman:There’s no prices.  How much are these?
Man shouts to woman vendor two stalls away: Hey Ma!  Is Jim over there? Jerry!
Jerry: Yeah,Coming.  Look at this a beautiful sight here.  Ah this is wonderful.  It warms my heart to see these people.  Thank you.  Yes.
Woman:How much is this… how much are..?
Jerry: If you put them on here I’ll tell ya. These here’ll be $2 each. 1, 2, 4 ,5, 10, $13
Woman 2:How much are the…?
Jerry: Those are 3 and 5, but they go up to $15…that’s $3.
Woman: Is it less for that smaller one by chance?
Jerry: huh?
Woman:Is it less for that smaller one by chance?
Jerry:No.
Woman:No, still three bucks?
Woman: And you can use these with regular stamp pads right?
Jerry: Yeah, yeah,Usually have one.  I can’t find mine. I usually have one out here.
***
Woman:Haley look at this one, there’s a little waiter serving a dish.
05:00
Jerry: No, no photos please.
Man: Oh, oh I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Jerry:Too many gangsters around the table.
Man: Why would they, why would you care about a photo?
Jerry: The gangsters don’t like their picture taken.
Man: Oh, OK.(laughter)
Jerry: It it kinda protects them.
***
Woman:Yeah, I like the idea of having it for stationary or something.  It is thirteen bucks for all of that.
Friend 1: For this?
Woman: Yeah, it’s two dollars a piece for the letters and then three dollars for the …
I don’t know is it worth it? or is it like too cutesy cutesy?
Friend 1:  It’s not too cutesy cutesy.
Friend 2:What’s Andrew’s middle name?
Woman:Michael. You know I’m just gonna buy it.
Friend 2: Go for it.
Woman:  Also, when I was in Austin I tried to do that, but they didn’t have all the letters though.  I wouldn’t mind if they were all different. OK Mister, here I come.  I’m going to get’em.  You guys can just laugh at me.
(transaction)
Thank you.
07:30
Jerry:There’s more wood in boxes over there.
Woman: Were these in a printing press too?  They were just made outta wood instead of…
Jerry:Yeah newspaper.
Woman: Oh newspaper
***
Jerry:3,7,10 (counting)
background chatter
flipping over letters
10.00
background conversation
Thank you (transaction)
Man: Your daughter would
Friend: Yeah?
Man: Liz would love one of these…if we got her a unique one…
Man:What is that?
12:30
Woman: Are the wood one’s cheaper than the metal ones?
Jerry: No, no those are equalled out at $3 each.
Woman:They’re are 3 each.
Jerry:Most of the wood is 3 and 5 but there are some up and around 8 and ten dollars.
Woman: Ok
***
Woman 2: How much are the metal ones?
Jerry: Metal ones, most of them are two and three but they go a dollar to five dollars each.
Woman 2: Ok. Thank you.
Jerry:There are a couple, a few pieces of metal that are $10 each.
Woman 2: OK.  Thank you.
***
Jerry: Yes how are you? You need prices on that? That’ll be a dollar a piece.
Man: How do you put them together?
Jerry: You can put them together with scotch tape is the easiest thing.
***
Jerry to Woman: Here’s a tray if you like.
Woman:  Oh thanks.
Jerry: I have bigger trays to if you like.
15:00
Man: Hey! hey! Mary! hey!
Woman:What is that?
Woman:Hey! Hey! Hey Liz!
Man:Liz could put that on her,on her correspondence, Paid.
What d’ya think?
Jerry: Ah she’ll love it!
***
Vendor : Hey Jerry!
Jerry: Yes.
Vendor: That girl, the little girl with the earmuffs was looking for you.  She said,”I was waiting for three minutes! “
(Too loud to decipher)
***
Jerry: What’s going on Larry?
Larry:….Georgia moon…(laughter)…Georgia moon.
Jerry:You want some Georgia moon? uh ugh
Larry: That’s the fuel that’ll warm you up, baby.
Jerry:That’ll warm you up.
Larry:You got some?
Jerry:No that stuff scares me; I never sure…I never sure whether it is made right or not.
17:30
Ringing
conversation
turning over blocks individual tapping.
individuals pass through silently
20:00
Ringing
laughter
conversation
setting out chairs/step-stool
individuals pass through silently
22:30
ringing, background noise louder, conversation
Woman: Is that good yummy cider?
25:00
loud background noise, conversation
27:30
Cookie vendor opposite surveys a mother and daughter on UGG boots.
Jerry listen in on conversation.
Spanish speakers converse briefly at table.
30:00
Woman: I saw a lot of these in Germany.
Man: Really?
Woman:Good to see all the different letter styles.
(spoken softly)
32:30
British boy:What are all of these things?
British Father:These things used to be used for printing like on a computer.  Yeah, you line up all of these metals and then you roll over ink and then you roll it onto the paper.
(too loud to decipher)
35:00
Jerry:Anybody needs any prices, let me know. No photos please.  You can take one.
Woman:huh?
Jerry:I like you, you can take one.
Woman:Oh, ok.  Um, for these?
Jerry:These are 3 each and these are 2 each. 14, 16, 20.
Woman:Here you go. (transaction) I don’t need a bag; I’ll put them in my purse.  Thank you very much.
Jerry:Thank you
Woman:Thanks
     It takes time to make a connection between what you are observing, and understanding it as a part of a whole system or network.  The movable type letters on display are still in use today by artisans who continue to practice the “black art” of typesetting traditional to the time of Gutenberg.   Computer typesetting programs have replaced this practice.  Most of the typeface sold here today, separated from the printing press machinery that once mass-produced newspapers, will be used for the vintage aesthetic with a stamp pad on a small-scale for letters, cards, and tags.   These letters were used in a printing press, an invention that evolved over time from  1440 when Gutenberg adapted existing technologies to mass produce books, most notably what is now referred to as the Gutenberg Bible.  Prior to this world changing invention records such as religious scripts were individually copied by hand.  Mass communication restructured society through access to knowledge, ideas, and literacy with relatively unrestricted borders. Digital typesetting today and free fonts allow access to amateurs where only skilled designers once practiced.  The printing press for newspapers and books has evolved into offset printing which involves using light-sensitive chemicals and photographic techniques to transfer images and type from original materials to printing plates.  Otherwise source material remains only as digital data.  Newspapers are scheduled publications with current news of local and worldwide events that are archived as recordings of modern history.
      Time was spent observing the product in detail while moving around the table.   Movable type, letters of the English alphabet and symbols used in a printing press, nest in trays of varying size.  The letters appear as mirror images so when assembled on a composing strip and located within the forme they transfer to paper to be read correctly.  Some trays are neatly organized in tight rows of similar font and are difficult to pick up.  Others trays are messy and mixed up with wood letters, cast metal letters and dice.   Most are metal, shiny silver in various fonts from plain to fancy.  Wooden block letters are lighter and the fonts appear larger.  There is an endless array of tiny numbers calenders, spacers, and images.  Wooden and metal letters are called sorts in mechanical systems and glyphs in digital systems.  Metal handles engraved with Hamilton MFG CO, that once organized the job case that are divided up into ninety compartments to contain the sorts, are strewn over the table.  The drawers measure approximately 32.25′ inches wide by 19.5′ inches long by 1.5′ inches thick and they are also for sale.  Capital letters were stored in a case above the other letters, hence why capital letters are called “upper case” in comparison to non-capital letters which are “lower case.”  In America the California Job Case was popularized in the late nineteenth century to speed up typesetting, arranging letters according to frequency of use. The most frequently used letters t, n, e, i, o, r are arranged in a circle with less frequently used letters located farther away.
     Connections can also be made between people given enough time. The people who come and go to snap a photo are not as welcome by the vendor as the person who spends time at the table.  Perhaps it is because they are most likely to make a sale or because they have shared some common experience or understanding together however brief.  The process of making a transaction at this table requires interaction with the vendor Jerry as no prices or information regarding the product are posted or displayed.  This common conversation is repeated all day long every week.  It is a record of the process of buying something at this specific place.

It is warm this Sunday, a reprieve from the cold weather we have been experiencing since Hurricane Sandy passed through the region.  The sidewalk and street are full and lively with activity.  People are sipping coffee and tea, and enjoying brunch at the outdoor seating of the restaurants that line the street.  Parents are pushing strollers of children.  Dogs are tied to lamp posts while owners eat breakfast across the sidewalk.  There is no rush.  Everyone is staying awhile and enjoying some time outside.   The local businesses are benefitting from the foot traffic of the weekly event.  There is a continuous flow of people streaming in from the metro.  Many local residents filter in from the neighborhood on Capitol Hill by walking or biking.  The orange construction cones for the 7th Street SW closure are out. Two long rows of tents are located parallel to the shed, over where there is typically diagonal parking, two-way traffic, and parallel parking. 

Upon approach it is easy to see through fence that there are a lot of tents today.  The two large gates which control the entry and exit of cars during the week at 7th and 8th Street, welcome pedestrians to wander into and out of the space on the weekends.  The residents from the neighborhood primarily composed of row houses pass through the gates which connect up C Street, which is typically separated by the school parking lot.    The pathway between the long rows of tents is densely packed with people.  The distance between the rows of tents is approximately twenty feet wide. It is generous enough for people to stop and inspect items for sale, but also allows people to pass by without bumping into each other.

 On the weekends the parking lot transforms from an automobile dominant space to a pedestrian space.  Depending on the number of tents the open space of the parking lot void is filled with tents, things and people.  The area to walk between the tents becomes more or less dense depending on the number of people visiting.  The number of people usually reflects the weather conditions.  Support vehicles for the vendors, are parked in tandem in a smaller lot adjacent to the school buildings accessed through a service gate.  Due to the street being closed off the sound of cars coming and going is replaced with the sound of music, and lively conversation. Individual tents line the perimeter fence.  Tents are placed back to back in rows on the interior and in some in a solitary row.  Most vendors have a tent to protect them from the elements and define their space, but a few do not.  Some fill the void between tents with tables and things for sale.  Some items such as vintage furniture are spread out so you can walk around them and inspect them from various angles. 

Food and drink vendors are mixed throughout the rows of vendors selling antiques, photographs, clothes.  People walking slow down and linger to get a sample and enjoy something on the spot.  The food vendors provide unique smells and sounds that characterize the space, mainly congregated towards the middle of the space, enticing you down the rows towards the center.  The sweet and salty kettle corn overwhelms most everything with the cauldron popping away and people talking loudly over it.  Across the path banana bread, warm empanadas, donuts, and cold fruit smoothies are being sold at separate stands.  A simple table selling freshly made cookies has a very long line forming.  A live music band in the corner starts playing, and a crowd gathers to listen.  Farther down the smell of strong coffee perks up your senses and now it is easier to stay a little longer wandering the rows.  Many of the items being sold have a more subtle smell to them in comparison to the food.  The old books have a dusty smell to them when you open them up.  The vintage furniture smells of being recently polished.  Incense is burning from an African man’s tent. Striped handbags smell sweet from woven palm frond fibers.

Music and sound also create a defining sense of place.  From the individual player just beyond on the periphery to the group playing under a tent with amplification near the food tents, music travels and changes volume as you continue on your path through the space.  In addition to some of the vendors that sell used instruments, some items produce sound such as the Tibetan singing bowls, wind chimes, and small wooden croaking frogs.  It gets louder and more congested where food is located.  Some of the layouts of tables on which things are displayed also contribute to the increased levels of communication between buying and sellers. 

This space does not always have a bustling atmosphere.  In the daytime during the week, this space serves as a parking lot for the school. Busy in the morning and afternoons as the school staff arrive and depart for the school day.  The cars are located precisely per the parking striping and the gates are closed to public access.  The ground is relatively flat and the lot is vacant in the evenings.  There is black asphalt, white paint striping and a perimeter fence.  There are some trees located along the 7th and 8th Street, but none are found in the parking lot surrounded by chain link fencing.  In the summer this space is very hot with the black asphalt and limited tree canopy. Colorful square tents and hexagonal umbrellas are needed to keep the heat of the sun at bay.  The open space is the container for activities.  When it is full it is difficult to read the edge of the perimeter fencing except when things are displayed to hang off of it.  With the street open to traffic one can see the long brick building and the metal shed that runs parallel to it in its entirety.  The brick sidewalk appears vast and empty with just a few people walking into the building to pick up meat and fruit from the permanent vendors who are located in that building seven days a week.

On windy fall and winter days the space appears mostly as an open parking lot with just a handful of vendors working.   The tents are randomly spaced within the sea of parking. The perimeter fencing becomes prominent and the open space is left empty.  The food vendors are not here.  There is no prominent smell or sound.  It is quiet with some conversation, but no music.   The sound of traffic from the nearby main road can be heard.

Within the confines of the twelve foot high green chain-link fence, a world of choices exists.  This space is a more recent extension of the public market on Capitol Hill that has been in continuous operation since 1873, except for 2007, when a fire damaged the building.  The market reopened in 2009.  It was the first in a larger city-owned public market system intended to urbanize Washington D.C., provide orderly distribution of goods to residents, and serve as an attraction to residents.  It remains as the “town center” for the Hill despite competition from grocery store chains.  The building is on the National Registry of Historic Place, and was designed by architect Adolf Cluss.  The single story space has an open plan of stalls with natural light, ventilation and no heat for better storage of perishable items. The Center and the North Hall were added in 1908 by Snowden Ashford, the architect under the city’s Office of Public Works.  The building function is divided into the South Hall Market and the North Hall Events Space.  After the fire in 2007 the market was restored, the previously hidden skylights were revealed as a prominent feature. 

After the restoration, the street was closed to vehicular traffic on weekends to create a pedestrian plaza.  The surrounding neighborhood consists of 19th century architecture, Victorian row homes made of dark red bricks with heavy masonry lintels over the windows.  The commercial frontage, with varying heights, styles, and colors of buildings, run along Seventh Street benefitting from the foot traffic of this pedestrian only street on the weekends. North Carolina Ave SE and Pennsylvania Ave SE are major vehicular traffic thoroughfares that act as the boundaries to the pedestrian street activities. 

Progressive Era municipal reformers believed that improved public markets would play an important role in feeding cities.  The system was valued for efficiency and equity.  Municipal markets supervised and controlled food to protect consumers.  Market hours accommodated social classes with middle class patrons making higher priced purchases in the morning.  Reduced prices occurred at the end of the day when poor classes filled the market.  The elderly, widowed, and handicapped were allowed to sell small items from the empty stalls.  African Americans sold all manner of food stuffs at the market curbside, which they occupied for free.  Today, African American musicians, playing for money, locate themselves along the periphery at the street corner and the entrance to the yard.  The various sounds of the banjo, the drums beating, help to define the boundaries of the street and this festival like place.  As one waits at the corner for the light to get to the eastern Market Metro Station a man is yelling loudly to buy a newspaper and help support the poor! He paces along the curb of the sidewalk. 

Eventually merchants formed their own market companies and the middle class left the municipal market system to the poorer classes in favor of the small suburban grocery store.  Improved transportation via railroad led to commission merchants who bought directly from the farmers and sold on commission to retailers.  The wholesale business of public markets was in decline. 

It was argued that bringing the producer and the consumer closer together lowered the cost of living.  Local governments began to improve and to build municipal market construction throughout the United States.  In 1913 the USDA formed the Office of Markets with the goal of developing model market systems for cities interested in establishing more economic and efficient marketing facilities.  This followed the Pure Drugs Act of 1906 with a more modest approach to food regulation that promoted cooperation between public and private enterprise. A national rail system with refrigerated railroad cars allowed meat and vegetables to be distributed from regional distributions to local butchers.  National brands and advertising took hold.   In the 1970’s governments reconsidered the effectiveness of public markets.  Today’s markets are alternatives to municipal ownership.  Eastern Market almost closed due to loss of customers to grocery stores in 1929, but the neighborhood protested and the market survived.  Charles Glasgow Sr. suggested management responsibilities for the market in the 1950’s.  The Eastern Market Corporation was formed, now managed by Eastern Market Ventures.  Today this place remains as the “town center,” a bustling place of commerce in the yard, street, and sidewalk.

Some of the other city-owned markets include Central Market, O Street Market, Western Market, Northern Liberty Market, and 5th and K Street Market.  Central Market (1871-1931) located at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. was one of the nation’s largest markets.  Today the site marks the current location of the National Archives.  Central Market, also designed by Adolf Cluss, did not fit in the architectural style intended for the monumental core of the McMillan Plan.  The 57, 400 square foot building provided space with 666 separate vendor stalls. A five foot marble slab with the history of Central Market was supposedly saved in an unknown location.   For the winter holiday season a downtown holiday market moves to F Street between 7th and 9th Street, very close to where Central Market use to be located.

It its 29th year of operation the extension of the goods and services sold at Hine School Yard,  including arts, crafts, antiques, collectibles, and imports, are a natural extension of Eastern Market’s meat, produce, bakery and flowers.  The going rate for 10’x10’ stall is $70 while a 10’x20’ stall is $140.  There is space for over on hundred exhibitors from five continents.  

At a single location you are offered local, regional items such as hand carved cherry wood cutting boards, but also items from all over the world such as hand woven purses and jewelry from Columbia.  To get an idea of the work that goes into some of these items, consider the woven strap, with an intricate chevron detail in multiple colors made by men and the body of the bag is made by the women over the course of a month.  Many of the items sold are fair trade, a social movement to help developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability.  Fair trade advocates for a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards.  It helps to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to markets through long-term fair trading relationships. 

Hine School Project plans to redefine the area that is currently Hine School Yard into a civic space as well as providing residential units with ground floor retail.   The capacity provided to exhibitors would be reduced in quantity.  The physical boundaries of the current event space will be redefined in order to accommodate the new development.    The neighborhood residents have had a significant influence on keeping all aspects of the market intact. 

 

Neatly stacked piles of turquoise, magenta, marigold and saffron conjure up the Indian landscape.  Hand carved teak blocks are used to hand print whimsical designs of elephants, monkeys, and lions in repetitive, alternating patterns that vary in color, size, and shape.  On this 36”x 50” piece, the elephant design is printed with eco-friendly azo-free dyes of white ink and then navy ink with white body color on bright aqua cotton fabric.  Blue thread, stitched in horizontal lines between the marching elephants, appears on the reverse side against the bold, solid orange fabric.  In the Kantha tradition of embroidery, the stitching holds the cotton fill in place between the two pieces of fabric.  The elephant block design is a miniature of the pattern used to make some of the stuffed animals. It shows the Ari style embroidery pattern, a series of chain stitches.  There is variation within the printed pattern.  Colors vary depending on the humidity, dryness, and sunlight at the time when they are made.  The brand is Mirasa, which means heritage in Hindi.

Ruby Lee has two large, forward facing black eyes with radial and circular stitching over layers of white and pale pink felt.  The animal has a wide, flat face with upright ears.   A small, orange felt beak and two little orange feet do not reflect this animal’s true sharp beak and talons.  Soft, fuzzy, maroon woolen, like that of your favorite sweater, covers the body.  Distinctive plumage on the front is formed by a vintage damask floral pattern in varying shades of red and beige.  It is reminiscent of pattern that would be found on a traditional wing-back chair at grandma’s house.  This animal is typically associated with wisdom in the west.  The eyes and ears are not quite symmetrical.  She has enough weight she is self-supporting and perches about 18” tall amongst others in her flock.  She has many unique, individually named, friends and family members in her company of characters at Tigerflight.  The free-form variation in size and shape, results from not using a patten.  It allows the individual pieces and material to dictate the theatrical personalities of the creatures.  The color palette of the collection tends to be dark browns with unusual color and texture patterns of cable knit and tweed.  No typical baby blue and pink would dare be found here.

An intricate, interlocking, woven pattern of Kelly Green lines, outlined in white, stands out against a midnight blue background.  The design covers both the front and back of the stiff card-stock approximately 4”x5 ½”.  The back lists the name of the designer only.  It is accompanied by a crisp white envelope.  The brand Amy Ruth Designs, Small Town Small World, is derived from her first name and her grandmother’s name.  The small town refers to her home in New Canan, Connecticut.  Her designs reflect her work in the fashion industry recalling textile patterns and details such as plaid, gingham, tartan with monograms.  The classic, preppy, Americana style is both masculine and feminine, mixing colors of hot pink and navy with nautical and rugby themes.   Her collection is also inspired by her childhood and current travels to South Africa that includes animals and nature themes.

One can connect with these products and the designers  locally on Sundays, same time and place.  Per the Visitor Survey prepared by WBA Market Research in June 2012 the majority of the visitors to the Capitol Hill location are women, between the ages of 24 and 35.   The designers can also be found on-line through Etsy, the e-commerce website for handmade or vintage items.  In the tradition of craft fairs Etsy charges twenty cents for an on-line storefronts and receives 3 ½% for every sale.  Most items on Etsy are sold by women who tend to be college educated in their twenties and thirties.

The three products described are all designed by women who are small business owners.  All three of these items share a distinct element of connectivity, and address sustainability to varying degrees through the environment, people, and economy.

The quilt connects products designed for children to the designer’s nostalgia for her Indian heritage.    The line of toys, clothes, and quilts for infants and toddlers are produced using fair trade practices.  Craftsman are paid a living wage, provided clean housing separate from the work area, subsidized meals and basic health care.  A portion of the proceeds go to a non-profit, Room to Read, a girl’s education and reading room program in India.  The owner and designer of Mirasa is Aashumi Shah, a textile designer trained in Mumbai, Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City.  She lives in Washington DC.

The owl stuffed animal, part of The Owlington Family, connects one to a tangible past with vintage inspired embroidery, fabrics and woolen garments. Tigerflight by Beth Baldwin specializes in handmade art and toys. The artist connects with the public as an Artist in Residence through Artisphere where you can interact with her and see how she personally makes her line of animals and houses from recycled materials.  The materials are mostly recycled or up-cycled upholstery remnants and old sweaters she felts together.  Beth is originally from Buck’s County, Pennsylvania.  She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Theater Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  She is also the Arts Coordinator for Art Enables, Outsider Art Inside the Beltway.  She lives on Capitol Hill.

The stationary, used for traditional means of handwritten correspondence with ink on paper, connects people across the world to each other and the design/designer’s message.   Despite the on-line convenience of email, Facebook, Twitter, and Paperless Post, handwritten cards remain a more formal part of American culture to maintain connectivity to friends and family, especially as a tradition at Christmas and occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays.    The designer caters to the individual wants and desires of the consumers. The stationary is made from paper sourced from responsible forestry practices and is manufactured in Alabama at a facility powered by 100% renewable green energy.  Amelia Townsend has a BA in French and Religious Studies from Vanderbilt University.  She worked for Vineyard Vines, Tommy Hilfiger, and is also works as Newsletter editor for the US Embassy Gabrone, Botswana.

Thanksgiving is a time for thoughtfulness spent with family and friends centered on feasting.  American culture tends to be interested in everything convenient, especially fast food that you can eat on the go.  It is a special day when nationally we share together at a communal table food, religion, and politics.

Preparing a meal takes forethought and hard work.  Part of the slow food movement is about taking time to make a meal from whole food ingredients, and enjoy the act of eating with others without haste.  The sandwich board at the local butcher’s shop reminds you that it is almost here: Thanksgiving-a day off!  The small store on Main Street, with just a simple awning but large sign text, catches the eye of drivers on their way home from work.  The shop is a destination, a source for specialty meats from small, local farms.  The sausage they make is a seasonal treat made from a family recipe, passed down through generations.  They carry heritage birds that you cannot find in most supermarkets, so you have to get your order in early.  Now that the turkey has been ordered, one thing can be checked off the to-do list.

Thanksgiving offers a time of reflection when you are face to face with your extended family for most of the day in the kitchen.  Everyone always wants to know what is cooking, what will be new to the traditional spread of turkey and stuffing with gravy. You wake up to the smell of celery and onions sizzling in a pan of butter for the stuffing.  The cranberry sauce, simmering with the orange zest and cloves, has been sampled and is almost ready.  Mother has been up for a while; the turkey is already in the oven. Pastry dough is being rolled out and there is flour on her hands.  Neighbors drop by throughout the day to offer holiday greetings and they come offering pie.  A steaming pot of mulled apple cider welcomes them all.  The doorbell rings as more extended family show up.  They set their bags in the entryway, and take a seat at the kitchen island.  They have a cup of tea and conversation from a vantage point where they can see everything being washed, chopped, and prepared.  Aunt, from the farm up north, enjoys seeing all the fresh vegetables get mashed, steamed, and baked.  She likes to know in detail the latest news of all the children.   She, like grandma, has a propensity to retell the relations who are not here today all the news of the day.

Everyone has their role in the yearly ritual.  Mother roasts the large turkey, instructing on how to keep it moist on the inside, crisp on the outside.  She times everything perfectly according to when everyone has arrived.  She is well practiced at hosting these large family occasions.  Everyone always comes here to the family home.  As the children get married, they come every other year for Thanksgiving and Christmas so they can split their time between families.  Father, charged with carving, serves the meal.  This way he has to actually sit down for the meal.  He also takes a family photo of everyone before the meal begins, that ultimately is sent in Christmas cards to family all over the world.  The kids set the table before everyone arrives; special glasses, china, and silver are brought out for the occasion.  Pumpkins, leaves and flowers decorate the table.  Grandma’s antique embroidered chairs are added to the table with the piano bench at the end to squeeze a few more people around.  Inevitably, there is a surprise guest who shows up that someone has invited to partake in the festivities.  This is usually a day when new boyfriends or girlfriends come home to meet the family all at once or friends who do not have family in town come over. Visiting family from abroad, also enjoy participating in this uniquely American holiday.

Grandma says the blessing.  Atheist brother cringes as everyone holds hands around the table in prayer.  He manages not to say anything disrespectful this year.  Brother takes care that everyone has a beverage.  There is a toast of remembrance to those past, present and future.  Grandpa, part deaf now, dominates the conversation of history and politics.   He is a wealth of information, although some of it has been heard before.  There is continuous debate over topics of organic and conventional farming methods, war and peace, wealth and poverty.  Multiple conversations take place over each other. Father eventually intervenes to ask a few questions to everyone at the table so everyone can hear each other.   Siblings, now separated, living in different cities, catch up on their growing families and latest adventures.  Inevitably, the phone rings during the meal, and it is passed around the table so everyone can share the greeting.  After everyone has enjoyed second helpings of dinner multiple desserts come out of the oven: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple-cranberry crisp a la mode.  Tough decisions include one slice or a sliver of each.  The homemade pies always go first: the crust is so much better.  Everything slows down and conversation moves from the table to the couch.  Abundance has been provided.  Tomorrow it will be leftovers and then back to the usual conveniences that have led to our nations true over consumption.  It gets a little quieter as the dishes get washed and dried.  Uncle dozes in the chair with his feet on the ottoman.  Children are snuggled up together in blankets watching a holiday film.  Newspaper ads have been reviewed, clipped, and sorted on the coffee table.  Early and mid-morning shopping excursions have been organized.

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