PRODUCING AUTHENTICITY: REDEVELOPMENT AND BOSTON’S HAYMARKET
a Thesis Submitted to the Department of Urban Planning and Design Harvard University Graduate School of Design by DIANA LIMBACH LEMPEL
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
MASTER OF URBAN PLANNING MAY 2012
Advisor: Rahul Mehrotra 1
!"#$%&'( )*+%,-.(,'&', /0 redevelopment and Boston’s Haymarket
Abstract This thesis is an analytical study of the role of Haymarket in the city of Boston. The role of the market can be divided into two parts: its function, in economic, spatial, and legal terms, and its meaning, in historical, cultural, and political terms. I conducted spatial ethnographic fieldwork, textual analysis of market reviews, and analysis of the public development process on the site in order to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of redevelopment adjacent to the Haymarket, a process which is underway at the time of writing. By connecting these two analytical frameworks – which are usually kept separate – I hope to inform the work of policymakers and designers in Boston and in other cities confronting the challenges of preserving, reviving, or modernizing historic, informal public space practices. Based on this research, I argue that Haymarket’s function, as a place where new Bostonians and existing markets have always produce their own solutions to economic needs in a low-overhead environment, must be preserved, and that the meaning and heritage of the market should be understood in this context rather than as an aestheticized representation of a single “authentic” practice (that is, food vending by Italian immigrants). Furthermore, I spatialize this argument by articulating that the market remain an interstitial practice, rather than the anchor of a thematic “market district.” I propose guidelines for evaluating current proposals for the market, and introduce some opportunities for future engagement at the Haymarket site and the city as a whole.
CONTENTS Chapter 1 Introduction . Goal of Research and Frontier of Knowledge . Documenting Haymarket: A tradition in itself . Findings . Structure of thesis . Method of research
Chapter 2 A Market Ecology . Stakeholders . Shoppers . Habitat (Site Study) . Migration (Travel and Access Patterns) . Time Chapter 3 Function . Space . Law . Economics Chapter 4 Meaning . Theories of Authenticity and Heritage . Theories of Informality and Public Space . History, Memory, Identity . Social Networks . Culture and Conflict Chapter 5 Recommendations . Response to current proposals . Opportunities for the future Chapter 6 Conclusion: Learning from Haymarket
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION From the subway, you walk a block until you get to the market. It’s several blocks of plywood stalls lit by strings of worklights, perched on pallets, displaying pineapples, citrus, avocados, berries, chayote melons, cut herbs, and more. Below the smell of old vegetables you smell the electrical, chemical smell of small generators running space heaters, and a whiff of the fish from nearby vendors and the spices from a basement grocer. Beneath the din of negotiation and hawking, you hear the flap of the tarps that shield vendors and shoppers from the wind. Beneath your feet are cobblestones, bits of vegetables; the buildings around you are old, brick, painted with faded advertisements and festooned with signs for Halal meats and dry goods. Two women, heads covered with hijabs, small children and grocery carts in tow, walk past you. A family speaks in Haitian Creole to one another, assigning a specific shopping task – and shopping bag – to each member. Young men, wheeling hand carts stacked with boxes of produce, shout at each other in Spanish. A middle-aged black woman tests limes and, satisfied, buys six; well-dressed tourists stroll by, remarking on the presentation of the produce on their way to a leisurely afternoon of luxury shopping. A hawker calls his wares – “strawberries, one dollar!” A man steps out from a basement meat market, where you can see goat heads and whole fish displayed on counters, and calls “fresh fish fresh lamb! Fresh fish fresh lamb!” Down the street, two vendors are yelling at each other; one has unplugged the other’s extension cord, which must stretch across the sidewalk to plug into a large outlet on the side of an adjacent brick building. It almost comes to blows. Shoppers step around. The fight dies down and you continue on your search – “Where did I see those nice bananas?” Chic young women banter flirtatiously as they buy ingredients for a dinner party, “Thanks John!”, and others greet vendors with shouts and jolly handshakes, “Hey, paisan!” You get the sense that everyone has a routine here, a system – they’re keeping week’s worth of recipes in their minds, and carefully cataloguing the prices and quality of the wares at each stall, even as they navigate the unspoken rules of the vendors, and the constant push of the crowd. So where are you? And, when are you? *** This scene calls to mind images of a place out of time. One moment, you might imagine yourself in a souk in Marrakesh; the next, Campo de’ Fiori in Rome; the next, perhaps the
Lower East Side of New York City circa 1915; the next, a market on a dusty street in Mexico or a tropical plaza in the Caribbean. It’s a scene that evokes the past, that evokes a society less modern, less rigid than our own, at once romantic and seriously messy, both an assault and a playground for our senses. So you might be surprised to discover that this scene is based on experiences I had in the Winter of 2012, at the Haymarket produce market, in Boston, Massachusetts. This longlived produce market, located in the downtown of Boston, has been in existence since the early 19th century, selling the extras from Boston’s wholesale produce warehouse (once located at the nearby Quincy Marketplace, which is now a “festival marketplace,” and now located in nearby Chelsea) at low prices every Friday and Saturday. Since 1952, when the State of Massachusetts moved the market to its current location in order to accommodate the development of the Central Artery highway, the Haymarket has been closely bound up in the saga of development and redevelopment that has preoccupied Downtown Boston – a constant at the center of a city in renewal, in decline, in revival, and now, in its prime. Today, Haymarket’s relationship with the city around it faces another inflection point. With the completion of the Big Dig and the development of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, (figs. 1-2) a new park that covers over the Northeast Expressway’s now-underground right-of-way, Haymarket finds itself at the center of one of the city’s most promising new development opportunities. Rents along the Greenway are rising, tourism is soaring, and the Haymarket site is one of the keys to the city’s future, at the intersection of the historic North End (home of Paul Revere’s homestead site and Boston’s Italian legacy), the Greenway, and the enormously popular Freedom Trail. With two adjacent parcels available for development (one of which is a
building shell), the city and Commonwealth hope to both honor and capitalize on this strategic site and its history by developing a “market district,” featuring a new year-round, indoor farmer’s market selling Massachusetts products, restaurants and uprgraded food vending, as well as the historic Haymarket produce market. It perhaps goes without saying that this new development has been met with a mix of emotions from the many Bostonians and other stakeholders who have strong opinions about the Haymarket and its functioning in its current form. Neighborhood change and commercial gentrification can carry strong emotions about loss of heritage, declining economic opportunities for the poor, and exclusion from the changing city, as well as about positive transformation, improvement, and pride. Public discussions about the development of the Public Market, and the other adjacent parcel, has clearly outlined all of these arguments, with the desire of the city to capitalize on economic development opportunities among them.
Goal of Research + Frontier of Knowledge This thesis is an analytical study of the role of Haymarket in the city of Boston. The role of the market can be divided into two parts: its function, in economic, spatial, and legal terms, and its meaning, in historical, social, and political terms. By connecting these two analytical frameworks – which are usually kept separate – I hope to inform the challenges of supporting, preserving, and interpreting historic, informal public space practices. This is an essential question to ask because the field of historic preservation has traditionally focused on the maintenance of buildings, while the cultural heritage field has emphasized “intangible” practices
such as arts and crafts. A market like the Haymarket therefore constitutes a kind of middle ground that is not clearly theorized by either field. My research questions were: •
What do people value about Haymarket, and how do they use the market, socially and spatially?
Whose values and uses are represented by proposals for changes to the adjacent parcels?
How might those proposals better support the interests of all stakeholders in Haymarket, and the meaning of Haymarket for the city and its posterity?
Research outcomes will serve two purposes. First, I hope to provide a set of guidelines to the to inform the building and urban design, and programming, of the development sites adjacent to the Haymarket. Second, I hope to provide a conceptual and practical outline of the specific challenges and cultural mechanisms at work in the preservation of informal or temporary heritage; unlike an historic building, informal heritage and cultural practices can’t be “preserved” simply through the absence of demolition. The permanent built environment and the cultural and spatial context of informal practices have the potential to significantly influence and alter those traditions. Developing a sense of the underlying values and cultural forces that influence Haymarket might help other cities and constituencies to make decisions based on a rigorous understanding of the influences at play. In addition, I hope to provide a working qualitative description of the market, an “ecology” of stakeholders, their values and behaviors, which will serve posterity’s interest in the history of the market and city at large. This research is timely for a number of reasons. First, as previously noted, the development decisions that will affect Haymarket are being made simultaneous to my research. This provides opportunity both for study of the public negotiation process and for influence over the outcomes based on my findings. Second, as described by Boston Public Market
commissioners in a public meeting, the development on this site is “riding the crest of a number of waves” that are hitting American cities in this moment: the push towards “activated” downtowns for tourism and attraction of the “creative class” (Florida 2001), both through leisure and through heritage; the interest in sustainability as represented by local food systems; the goal of obesity prevention and health promotion through nutrition and healthy cooking; the need to combat economic and spatial inequality by promoting food access for residents of all incomes. Haymarket is an ideal case study for investigating the role of identity, heritage, social equity and public space programming in the development of urban downtowns. Additionally, cities and city builders are increasingly recognizing the value of flexible, informal processes in their cities as a tool for promoting resident satisfaction, economic and ecological resilience, and spatial flexibility. The Haymarket is a long-lived example of such a process, and therefore is ideal for study. Finally, research on this topic suggested that there are few academic studies of the Haymarket available for reference or study. The Project for Public Spaces did conduct a study of the Haymarket as part of their feasibility review for the Boston Public Market; their scale of research provided them access to a number of data tools that were out of my reach (time-elapsed photography, large scale head counts of foot traffic, extensive surveys), and while their essential findings were similar to my own, their mode of inquiry yielded a different set of recommendations and understandings than do my research. My intention is for this thesis to contribute a focused case study to each of these growing bodies of knowledge. This study also continues the inquiry of a number of fields of theoretical thought. Most foundationally, I see this project as engaging Sharon Zukin’s exploration of cultural and commercial gentrification, and the construction of value in the terms of “authenticity,” in New
York City (2009). Other literature on gentrification and neighborhood change, in particular Japonica Brown-Saracino’s study of “social preservationists” (2009), informs the study by suggesting how gentrifiers align themselves with symbolic “old timers” for the purpose of constructing a cohesive identity for their neighborhood. Theoretical explorations of memory, preservation and cultural identity further inform the conceptual framework of this research. Second, the study is influenced by the research and theory on tourism and heritage in urban redevelopment, which describes the process by which cities brand and fix in time historic sites and districts for the purpose of economic development and attracting tourists and high-end residents. This is similar to but distinct from the process of identity-construction through heritage, though often proponents of a “heritage” approach articulate both goals. Finally, in counterpoint to the studies of preservation and gentrification, this study is deeply influenced by the work of Margaret Crawford (1999) and other “everyday urbanists” who explore the role of informal public space practices and the importance of public places and informal environments for building essential social relationships. Together these bodies of work emphasize the importance of both the built environment and the human practices within them, for constructing meaning and identity, and what it means to be “authentic.” They also emphasize the importance of commercial space and practices in these different urban processes.
Documenting Haymarket: A tradition in itself There is a rich tradition of recording and documentation at Haymarket, mostly populated by impressionistic photo-essays, oral histories, and amateur film. And, in many of these accounts
that myth is counterposed with anxiety: about loss of tradition, about modernization, about change and cooptation. While this is an academic study that seeks to remedy the absence of rigorous analysis in the discourse about the market, I am also conscious about the fact that I am inserting myself into this world of local storytelling and mythmaking, and that to fall into this pattern of romance and lamentation will be all too easy. In the early 20th century, the pushcarts were part of Quincy Market, featured in postcards and lithographs, and documentary photographs. Around the time of the Central Artery construction, as the adjacent West End was razed and the North End redlined, some of the greatest luminaries of 20th century urban sociology explored social relationships in the “slums” that surrounded Haymarket,1 presenting a profoundly different portrait of this community that the popular wisdom considered depraved and deprived. In 1970, Wendy Snyder documented the vendors of Haymarket2 in moody black and white photos and vendor quotes adapted into free verse. She begins, “what began as an intuitive urge to learn more about the people who in every gesture expressed their affirmation of life developed into a sense of commitment. The color, drama, and individuality of their lives are now ominously overshadowed by the impersonal forces of redevelopment…” Also capturing that moment, the just-formed federal Environmental Protection Agency produced a photo documentary of the market as part of Documerica, a project to document environmental health concerns around the country; in this case, the Central Artery and the public resistance to the highway’s erection downtown. The produce is bountiful, the market, bustling. The geometric, high-rise
These are The Urban Villagers, by Herbert Gans, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. Wendy Snyder, Haymarket. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1970. 11
government buildings that Snyder laments frame the shots. And the Expressway looms behind them all.3 Today, though Haymarket is seldom studied, except by planners and their consultants, it is still a beloved subject for amateur filmmakers, media documentaries, and oral history projects. A quick Google search yields tourist guides and countless tourist photos, and a film by “Massachusetts USA”, featuring a very charming British actor horsing around with the vendors in a fake Boston accent and getting a tour from a North End resident speaking in breathy tones about how old the market is. There is also film by Northeastern student Lucas Schoeppner4 that features interviews with a Halal market seller and shoppers -- old timers and not -explaining “how the place has changed.” In these films too, are the requisite sights and sounds of yelling, pushing crowds, and beautiful bright produce. Finally, the online oral history project North End Stories focuses on a similar narrative of cultural origins and neighborhood change. [It is] a digital narrative project that aims to collect, preserve, and share the stories of Italian-Americans whose families immigrated to Boston’s North End in the late 19th and early 20th century. How has the neighborhood changed since 1900? since 1950? How have lifestyles changed? What has stayed the same?
A constant in these projects is the idea of Haymarket a remnant of the past, hovering on the brink of some kind of irrevocable change. Something about this condition inspires the kind of commitment, lyricism that Snyder describes, a compulsion to capture a set of dissonant sensory impressions in order to create an experience of the market environment.
Photos by Ernst Halberstadt, 1973. Captions read: “"Outdoor market at Haymarket Square. Public protest kept the square from becoming part of an expressway, 05/1973.” Online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/sets/72157622452743322/with/3952812677/ 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-G4612iobY
Findings Function Haymarket is at the heart of the redevelopment goals for the City of Boston because of its strategic location, available land, and public meaning. However, the market as it currently exists is not a tourist destination, but rather an interstitial practice in an interstitial space between a number of well-used tourist sites. The spectrum of Boston city dwellers passes through the site weekly, as shoppers, tourists, as commuters, and nighttime revelers; some of these engage in the market, and some skirt around it or avoid it altogether. It is of enormous importance to Boston area residents, including increasingly suburbanites, who value the market as a source of affordable produce. As do all informal economic practices, Haymarket solves market inefficiencies: providing fresh produce below the prices available at mainstream venues, and allowing produce wholesalers to move their products at the end of the week, and minimize waste. In addition, Haymarket is an opportunity for capital accumulation that has a low economic barrier to entry, and therefore acts as an entrance point for waves of new immigrants to the metropolitan area. However, as city oversight and maintenance of the site has gone up – in the form of trash management, liability mitigation, and health inspection – the overhead costs of vending have gone up, threatening some of these important functions that the market has heretofore served. Though vendors and shoppers value these improvements, and hope for more (like public restrooms, improved electrical connections, and better trash cleanup), such costs make it difficult for vendors to truly be as flexible as they might like to be, in terms of inventory management and market attendance. City representatives and documents that I reviewed recognize these challenges honestly, but
consider redevelopment, resident safety and user satisfaction to be their primary goals.
Meaning Haymarket behaves as a locus of collective identity for the city of Boston – a reminder of its blue-collar, white European immigrant roots and a symbol of its new, multicultural, cosmopolitan aspirations. Shoppers and vendors and developers therefore ascribe meaning onto the market that are consistent with their own perception of “authentic” Boston identity (their own identity, and a collective one), and use and experience the market in accordance with this meaning. Developers use the history of the market as a justification for their projects, arguing that they will provide a “return” to the historic character of the district; city planners also seek to restore an authentic Boston history, which for them involves repairing the scar of the Central Artery and establishing a mixed-use Market District as a regional destination for tourists and residents. The market also serves as a “third place” for its regulars, embodying a working class and “Old World” ethic of casual socialization and informal information sharing. Social networks are woven through the market, based on shared norms, traditions of reciprocity, and “in-group” identification. However, the market “in-group” often engages in constructive conflict with other groups within the spatial confines and social norms of the market, acting out anxieties and anger about gentrification and cultural change in their behavior and language towards each other. Conflict is part of the market: it also arises between vendors, between vendors and shoppers, and between shoppers, as everyone negotiates the complicated, unwritten rules of the space and its practices. The collective identity, shared social networks, and defined norms of conflict are all interconnected, just as are the stakeholders of the market themselves.
Structure of thesis The thesis has six chapters. Following this introductory chapter, I provide what I call a “market ecology.” Drawing on the tradition of social network mapping and spatial ethnography, I describe market stakeholders, their spatial and temporal patterns, and their physical environment. I believe this ecology provides an essential foundation for understanding the internal workings of Haymarket, its physical form, and the contestation for its future, and I hope that future research deepens, extends, and challenges this foundational attempt. In Chapter 3, I zoom out to provide a look at the Market in context, considering how it is situated in the spatial, legal, and economic systems in the city of Boston as a whole. In Chapter 4, I consider the meaning of these relationships, exploring the historic, social, and political implications of the structures described in Chapters 2 and 3, in relation to the theoretical literature from Sociology and Urban Studies that precedes me and informed my work. Then I draw from these findings a set of recommendations for design and development in the Haymarket district based on existing proposals, and some thoughts about other tools citizens might use to engage Haymarket in the future. Finally, I ask “what can we learn from Haymarket?” and offer thoughts about what Haymarket can tell us about the role of informality and heritage in American and other developed cities.
Methodology To create a thorough account of Haymarket’s ecology and an accurate, nuanced description of the values at play for the market’s constituents, I employed a diverse set of qualitative research tools. The research question itself was designed to minimize an overly subjective approach to
the material – and to avoid the tendency towards the romantic that characterizes other Haymarket studies – by creating opportunities to interrogate the values at play for a number of stakeholders, rather than taking as the starting point my own cultural values about authenticity or atmosphere at the market. Still, as with any qualitative analysis, my own reading of the data will certainly influence interpretation. I attempt to be explicit about the raw data throughout the project, and to uncover my personal biases, but I also acknowledge that there is inherent subjectivity even in my selection and framing of subject, and hope that this is therefore only one of many studies of the Haymarket and its broader implications. Multiple sources of data however provided opportunity for triangulation and mutual information in order to generate a rich picture of the market and its cultural context.
Interviews I contacted all of the governmental figures whose role places them in direct contact with the developments at Haymarket.While all were willing to meet, after numerous attempts I was able to schedule a meeting with Peter Gori, Senior Manager for Public Realm Projects at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). I spoke with him a number of times. The BRA is the city department responsible for the coordination and disposition of the proposals for the two parcels. Peter also works closely with the Greenway Conservancy and with the Haymarket vendors, though he is not directly responsible for any permitting. I spoke with Gori for a total of roughly 4 hours in two different occasions, in February and March, 2012. I also performed multiple interviews with Otto Gallotto, the President of the Haymarket Pushcart Association (HPA). The interviews were conducted on the Haymarket site, in March 2012, and were simultaneous to observations of the Haymarket practices.
RFPs, studies, and proposals Because of the public process that is currently underway for both Parcels 7 & 9, and the availability of extensive study of the Greenway project, I was able to consult a significant amount of material produced by both the BRA, Mass DOT, and their consultants. This included the Project for Public Spaces study for the Public Market (2009), a plan for the Greenway conducted by Utile, Inc. in 2010, the Requests for Proposals for Parcels 7 & 9 prepared by the BRA and Mass DOT, the Boston Public Market Associationâ€™s successful proposal for Parcel 7, and the four proposals submitted for Parcel 9. These documents included spatial, legal, infrastructural, and cultural/branding concerns, and were invaluable for this study.
Public meetings (recorded) Also because of the timely nature of this study, I had the opportunity to watch videos of public meetings pertaining to the development proposals for Parcels 7 & 9. These occurred on Sept. 27, 2011 and March 6, 2012. Present at such meetings were community representatives, advocates, government officials, private sector interests, and vendors from the HPA.
Site observation and spatial ethnography I conducted six site visits to the Haymarket, at varying times and on varying days. Visit durations ranged from .5-2 hours at a time. The first two visits were purely observational, intended to help me develop a sense of the travel patterns and cultural ecology of the market from an analytical, as opposed to an anecdotal, point of view. The third visit was as a shopper, and I used this visit to test the findings from my data analysis described later. The fourth visit was on a Thursday, when I observed the set-up process for the market, in order to develop a
clearer picture of materials and construction of the individual stalls, as well as the culture of the vendors. The fifth visit was as a guest in Otto Gallotto’s stall, where I was able to observe from the point of view of the vendor, and to encounter the “inner circle” of the Haymarket community – those who work there, or are closely connected to the vendors based on personal or professional long-term relationships. On the sixth visit I participated in the market for the purpose of interacting with the other shoppers and gaining a fuller picture of their motivations for shopping, and their likes and dislikes of the market.
Yelp reviews (crowdsourced data) Another source that I used to develop a better sense of the shopper experience was reviews on Yelp.com. Based on 148 unique, coded reviews – both 1-5 stars and qualitative, written descriptions of personal experiences and anecdotes – I was able to build a fairly rich picture of the values different shoppers attached to the market, and the practices they employed as shoppers. Admittedly such a data set, though fairly large, is limited by the biases that accompany such a tool. We might expect that those who post a review online might be particularly passionate about their opinion, for example, and that users of such a site in the first place might be self-selecting (media-savvy, interested in food and places, fluent in English and very literate). In the context of a cultural practice like Haymarket, this is no small concern. However, I found the results to indicate that the Yelp reviewers span the spectrum of the conceivable territory of opinions on the market, laying out their cases and opinions clearly and sometimes surprisingly. In addition, given my interest in gentrifiers and cultural tastemakers as particular manufacturers of value in urban space, it is perhaps not irrelevant to say that the
Yelp sample probably constitutes a good representation of this socio-cultural group and therefore is useful to consider.
Media accounts I was able to further assess public opinion about Haymarket from the multitudes of media, both formal and informal, that proliferates on the subject of food, urban development, and tourism in Boston. Beyond the major stories that have been run by the Boston Globe over the years, the Haymarket and Boston Public Market has been the subject of countless blog photoessays, student films, message board posts, geo-location and social media websites, and personal emails. These are indispensable for presenting a fuller picture of the range of values associated with the Haymarket, although, as might be expected, they often emphasize the visual and aesthetic. While some of these are the domain of the tourist or the newcomer, letters to the editor, newspaper articles, and other similar resources often represent a more “old-timer mentality” and are invaluable in that regard.
Archival photos To provide context and foundation for the inquiry, it was important to me to be able to juxtapose these contemporary images of the Haymarket with historical images. The Boston Public Library and the US National Archives (from an EPA study in 1973 of major infrastructure projects and community health), as well as the MIT Library, all have their collections digitized and available on Flickr, for public access. While this kind of work does begin to run the risk of promoting a kind of aesthetic historicity, I believe it was important to assemble some of these images for the purpose of understanding what the true origins of the place are, and more importantly to understand the changing impact of the Central Artery on
the site. Without photography it would be impossible to understand the extent to which the highway loomed over the market and impacted its character. No amount of description can accomplish this goal so powerfully, and make clear how important it is to address the seam that the artery’s removal has left behind.
Public Knowledge and Informal Research In endeavoring to make the research process transparent and available for public comment throughout, especially in the context of the imminent proposals for Parcels 7 & 9, I have developed a number of informal channels for sharing my thinking on the research and inviting responses. Though this data is not easily incorporated into a rigorous, objective analysis, the universality of some of the responses I have received (which I will discuss later) has certainly informed my thinking. So, I have posted photographs and initial observations to a weblog; I have shared my findings on Twitter; I have made a Haymarket “board” on Pinterest.com. I have also engaged a number of friends and acquaintances in informal conversation about the Haymarket and Boston Public Market, since many of them are shoppers or former shoppers or aspiring shoppers in this district. I have found their responses remarkably consistent with those represented by my more formal research. I began this project as a former North End resident, having moved to Boston a decade ago, after my mother and grandmother moved from Boston to California in the 1970s. I had never shopped at the Haymarket – I was an aesthetic shopper with an activist set of values, seeing the market as a symbol and not a resource. But now, as Otto Gallotto told me, I’m “in the club”: I know the rules, I know the guys, and I can come home with $10 of beautiful citrus in the middle of winter with no conflict. This is no small thing, as my discussion will show, and
I hope that this experience will help to inform, even in a small way, how others see this market, too. CHAPTER TWO A MARKET ECOLOGY
Haymarket is best understood through the metaphor of an ecosystem. It is a dynamic, living composition of interdependent forces whose changes have unforeseen ripple effects across the entire system. The components of the ecosystem include the people, interests, and coalitions that shape and are impacted by the function of Haymarket, and have been for generations; their environment is the 750 foot long stretch of public space that the market occupies weekly. Like any ecosystem, there is stasis in neither its physical nor its social environment; users ebb and flow through the market, tracing their accustomed pathways and making their habitual connections. The market stalls themselves have a rhythm, set up and broken down like clockwork every week, leaving traces for visitors to find: stored stall components, a trash compactor, the whiff of fish, vegetables cast in gold, pressed into the concrete underfoot.
Stakeholders Interests in Haymarket comprise a broad range of stakeholders and coalitions in the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Direct participants in the negotiation are numerous, representing civic, public, nonprofit, and for profit actors. Stakeholders interact through formal channels – on advisory boards, through negotiations, in partnerships, at public meetings – and through informal, economic, and social channels – as patrons of another’s business, or by exchanging information. Each of these interactions, coalitions, relationships
could be the subject of its own study; I have diagrammed this ecology based on my own field work and review of the publicly available literature, but it should be understood as a beginning point, an illustration of the relationships and dynamics present in the discussion of the market, and not a definitive description of the nuances of each relationship. (Figs 3-7) The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, a consolidated statewide transportation office established in 2009,5 owns the two parcels up for development adjacent to the market. The properties on Blackstone are owned by a number of private firms, though the owner of the vacant parcel at 72 Blackstone, de Normandie, is a partner on one of the bids for Parcel 9; the Millennium Hotel is located on North Street. As previously described, a developer, the Boston Public Market Association, has been named for Parcel 7, and for Parcel 9, at time of writing, four development partnerships, one of which being the Boston Museum, have bid for the rights to develop. The Boston Public Market Association is comprised of private property developers, local food advocates, and farming interests, including the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources; the Boston Museum CEO, Frank Keefe, is a prominent property developer in Boston, and its Board of Directors reads like Who’s Who of the City. The broader tourism and real estate interests in the City, in part represented by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in its capacity as the economic development arm of city government, are also keenly interested in the future of the site because of its strategic location and stock of underutilized property. The Haymarket Pushcart Association, empowered by state and local statute to remain onsite in perpetuity, also holds a good deal of sway, vociferously attending meetings, participating in approval committees, and building relationships with 5
A consolidation of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (“MassPike”), public transit authorities from throughout the state, and the Massachusetts Highway Department (“MassHighway”), among others. The upper floors of Parcel 7 are intended to become office space for MassDOT, specifically the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
developers; the 52 vendors in the association include both new immigrant vendors and those whose stalls have been in their families for generations. The HPA is governed by an executive board, and holds member meetings at least twice a year; lately, because of the important development decisions being made, the number of meetings has increased, to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and stays informed. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy as a nonprofit entity is also at the table, as it is also a physical component of the environment in which this ecology takes place. The North End Waterfront Resident’s Association is deeply involved with the plans for the site, recording and publicizing all public meetings and providing an online and in-person forum for discussion of the future of the site and its impact on the North End neighborhood; this association also expresses concern for the businesses in the North End and their specialization in specialty import goods. Residents from other nearby neighborhoods, such as Beacon Hill, also participate in the public deliberation over development on the site. Indirect stakeholders in the market – those who are impacted by changes to the site but as far as my research suggests do not directly participate in political deliberation – the small businesses that run in the buildings along Blackstone Street, including a pizza shop, a small pub, a cheese shop, the Puritan Beef company (a large butcher store), a Middle Eastern market; the low-income and other frequent shoppers of the Haymarket who do not live in the neighborhood, including both newcomers to the market and those who have long-term personal or family relationships with the vendors. Each of these shopper types, including those who rarely purchase anything at the market but instead consume “the market” as a cultural experience, whether as tourists or as residents, have different habits and patterns of use at the market, just as any resident of a natural habitat.
Shoppers Just as we can map the relationships between the different stakeholders at the market, we can also categorize shoppers based on their interests, goals, and habits when shopping at the market. I have divided shoppers into four distinct categories: advocate shopper, aesthetic or touristic shopper, affordability shopper, and patron shopper (fig.8) Often one shopper exhibits multiple of these traits, but the typologies are clear, and worth explicating.
Advocate Shopper The advocate shopper, in fact, does not tend to shop at Haymarket at all, though he will often have strong opinions about the market and in relation to his own food shopping goals, based either on aesthetic experience/personal fulfillment, economics, or health. One such shopper, who rated Haymarket with two stars on Yelp, described shopping preferences this way: I like leisurely browsing through produce stands, soaking in the vibrant colors and mouthwatering smells of fresh fruit. I like being able to talk with the farmers/vendors about what's freshest, about how the seasons going. I like going home with produce I know was grown with tender love and care.6
Other advocate shoppers describe their shopping goals as a practice of voting with their dollars by supporting local farmers outside of the industrial food system. Still others value the opportunity to buy organic products, emphasizing the health and ethical importance of pesticide-free foods. Advocate shoppers repeatedly emphasize, sometimes with dismay or indignation, that “Haymarket is not a Farmer’s Market.” It is no surprise, then, that these shoppers find an affinity with the mission of the Boston Public Market Association, to provide 6 Post from 2008. Online: < http://www.yelp.com/biz/haymarket-boston>
Accessed March 17, 2012.
“fresh and locally produced food to city residents.”7 At public meetings these shoppers speak up to advocate for food education, locally-grown only products, and high quality food. There is probably significant overlap between the idea of advocacy shopping and gourmet shoppers, but I have no evidence to suggest that advocate shoppers are by definition more affluent than any other kind of shopper. Further study about the interrelationship between education, affluence, and these food habits would therefore be useful.
Aesthetic & Touristic Shoppers Aesthetic and touristic shoppers, though different, behave similarly, so I have combined them for the purposes of this description. Aesthetic shoppers are drawn to the hustle and bustle, the “old world” feel of the market. Many advocacy shoppers and affordability shoppers also use this language, but aesthetic shoppers view the “vibe” of the market to be the good in and of itself. Many tourists fall under this category, passing through the market along the Freedom Trail, or for dinner in the North End, and slowing down to experience the market environment. One shopper visiting from Washington, DC described the market this way: “Colorful, loud, crowded, slightly smelly (there's cheese nearby). We were struck by the diversity of the vendors and buyers here -- Halal butchers, Midwestern tourists, farmers with strong Mass accents... Very cool atmosphere, but we didn't buy anything.”8 This comment summons up all of the aesthetic themes invoked by shoppers: density of people, sensory overload, diversity, “local authenticity.” While this shopper didn’t buy any produce, she consumed, as a touristic product, the market itself. Aesthetic shoppers will move slowly through the market but often do not cover all of it; they pass through along Blackstone or, 7
Website, http://www.bostonpublicmarket.org/. Accessed April 19, 2012.
Washington, DC shopper, 2007. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars.
more often, simply down Hanover Street, taking in the “cool atmosphere.” This movement is facilitated by the porosity of the Greenway boundary to the site, and blurs the boundaries between Haymarket and its surrounding context. It’s important to note though that not all aesthetic shoppers are outsiders marveling at the uniqueness of Haymarket – an equal number of Boston residents make aesthetic and authenticity claims about Haymarket that pertain to its role as a bastion of the loud, rude, working-class heritage of Boston.
Affordability Shoppers Affordability consistently comes out as the most important value for all shoppers who frequent the Haymarket, and as such, affordability shoppers are not universally low-income. In fact, affordability often intersects with the authenticity claim, as the fact that produce is cheap, prices negotiable, and the veneer of “shopping experience” thin (if present at all), is a part of the authentic experience of the market. Affordability concerned shoppers often voice opinions something like this: "Haymarket is definitely an experience. It is like shopping at an outdoor market in a foreign country, in fact most of the shoppers are foreign and they have honed their skills. ...You definitely have to be prepared to go to Haymarket, but it's a great resource for our city, especially with the rising cost of food.”9 Food access is a large part of the affordability conversation, which I will discuss further in Chapter 3; it is on the minds of affordability shoppers just as their own savings are. One shopper compared Haymarket to Filene’s Basement,10 that iconic free-for-all bargain basement clothing store (now closed) characterized by the joy of the hunt, calling to mind another connection between Haymarket and a broader
Dedham, MA shopper, 2008. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars. Montague, MA shopper, 2007. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars.
sense of Boston character. “Think of it as the Filene's Basement of food shopping, and treat it as a treasure hunt.” But most affordability shoppers are just focused on the bucks: they recount scores and shopping bag take homes with painstaking detail, and have developed a keen sense for smelling out the deals. They have developed tried and true strategies for keeping track of all of the good prices in their minds and their preferred vendors for price and quality, and know how to get value for their money by shopping in bulk and giving their produce a careful check. One woman who helped me buy avocados described this process to me, telling me that she’d just gotten good at navigating the noise of Haymarket, so that she could remember that this stall had 4 avocadoes for $1, and know that it was the best around. Another woman described to me that she always takes out $20 in cash and only allows her to spend that amount, forcing her to stretch this amount as much as she can. This story, and the comments of affordability shoppers at public meetings, indicates a concern not only for the conditions of affordability but also for competition. They want to see more vendors and shopping options, not fewer, to keep their prices down.
Patron Shoppers The final category of shopper views Haymarket as a place where they build relationships with vendors, or to the market itself, to which they have become committed over the years. The cheese vendor is an often-named favorite; I once listened to a friend wax romantic about “her cheese guy” and how he’s not a snob or fancy about it, but he really knows his cheese. A reviewer wrote: "Develop a relationship with vendors. I have about 4 stands that I always go
to,”11 and vendors were described as a positive attribute of the market for about 17% of shoppers. This isn’t always such a personal relationship, however; most of the people I interviewed at the market described that they have a number of vendors that they know they can count on to have superior produce, and many of the reviewers, in their guidelines for shopping at Haymarket, insist that building a rapport with the vendors is an essential component of a good experience at Haymarket. There is certainly as well a significant narrative that vendors are out to cheat, or are rude and racist (and my field research would indicate that some of the latter is present, though I found no evidence of the former). Additionally, as not all vendors are not English speaking, the opportunity for relationship building between all shoppers and all vendors is not entirely attainable. Still, the idea of loyalty to a vendor, or to the market as a whole, seems to be a strong driver of market participation. As one shopper said, "it's a great way to feel connected to the community while saving serious cash on your weekly produce and meat needs."12
Habitat As previously described, Haymarket extends for about 750 linear feet in a U shape along three streets: Hanover, Blackstone, and North Streets. There are 92 licensed stalls as of 2011, a consolidation based on the 196 original “pushcart” licenses.13 The stalls are set up by the vendors themselves, beginning at 11:30am on Thursdays with the large stalls at the center of Blackstone Street and continuing through Thursday night and the wee hours of Friday morning until the market opens on Friday morning. The market stalls are broken down on Saturday 11 12
Cambridge, MA shopper, 2008. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. Cambridge, MA shopper, 2006. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars.
evening, and trash removal takes place on Saturday evening. In 2009, the Department of Public Works introduced a number of large trash compactors for the vendors, which are currently located on Parcel 9; for maintenance of these compactors the vendors are now assessed a twiceannual fee for every license. Each vendor constructs his stall according to his needs. Stalls must be raised on pallets in order to prevent attracting rodents, but beyond this there is little in common between all stalls. Some are constructed out of prefabricated auto tents; others are made from plywood and tarps. Most vendors string utility lights along the top of their tents, which they plug into sockets on the adjacent buildings on Blackstone Street. A tangle of extension cords is therefore suspended above and secured underfoot below the activity of the market. Vendors create their own price signs, which is essential because they change them over the course of the day; they display their produce on large cookie sheets, in boxes, often on tabletops covered with Astroturf, often adorned with a Patriots sign or a Red Sox pennant. Stalls are located on the same spot every week, marked by barely perceptible symbols like a 4â€? spray paint line, or a groove in the curb. Proposals for Parcel 9 include numerous improvements to the Haymarket site, which are wholeheartedly supported by the vendors and would undoubtably benefit the shoppers, particularly those whose objections to the market focus on amenities and inconvenience. Otto Gallotto hopes for coin-operated public toilets in the near term, to be replaced by publicly accessible facilities in Parcel 9 after development. Other vendors describe hopes for improved weather mitigation, such as awnings. Electrical hookups will be improved, standardized at Parcel 9 to allow for more secure, less contested, and safer electrical connections. Universally
agreed upon is the need to raise the ground plane, so that the curb is eliminated and vendors no longer have to set up their stalls on pallets, though the historic granite curbs will be retained. Planning for the site includes widening walkways to ensure fire code compliance and regularizing stall layout to improve pedestrian flow. Specific designs for these changes will be determined by the Parcel 9 bid, and will likely impact the spatial patterns of shoppers and vendors.
Migration Today, tacit rules about agreed-upon spatial behaviors at the market are essential for its smooth functioning, as it is too crowded to allow for dawdling or insecurity (fig. 7). Personal space is at a minimum, so successful following of the rules is essential for minimizing conflict and inconvenience. Vendors can get especially touchy about loitering; a smooth passage of shoppers past their stalls is essential for business. On one visit I purchased a large bunch of decorative branches, which extended three feet above my shopping bag; the disruption I caused indicates the importance of close control over one’s movement patterns and physical space. If we imagine the market thoroughfare with the vendors at the center, to one side of the vendor is the display for shoppers; in the “lane” closest to the products approach the buyers, and dawdlers in this space get pushed or called upon. In the next lane out pass shoppers checking prices, sometimes stepping in to feel a piece of fruit or examine a bunch of herbs. Further out pass shoppers with no interest in that particular stall. In some parts of the market, and in cool or inclement weather, these shoppers are separated from passersby by a tarp, creating the
feeling of an enclosed market. In this outermost section of the market will often stop shoppers to check their shopping lists, regroup their products, send a text message, consult with their shopping partners. Also here are the entrances to the businesses on Blackstone Street: note how this gets complicated, as those who stop stop outside a vendor’s entrance, or as revelers loiter on the front porch of Durty Nelly’s Irish pub. When shoppers finish their rounds, they often exit to the outer lane. To the other side of the vendors, things are a bit less rigid, as there are fewer people. Old timers, friends of the vendors, and long time shoppers stop at the tables at the back of the stalls to pick up boxes of fruit, chat, talk politics or local business (more on this in chapter four). The vendors themselves move between their merchandise, stacked on the other side of the access road, loading boxes on dollies to their stalls and chucking empty boxes into the trash compactors. On busy market days, this pathway becomes another shopping corridor, and vendors set up their displays to face this pathway as well. Shoppers’ movements through the market reflect the fact that the market is not physically, permanently instantiated in the urban fabric. It’s an interstitial practice: it happens between buildings, on sidewalks and streets, and when it is broken down every Saturday evening, it leaves no trace. Therefore the shoppers have to navigate not only within the market, but also between the market and its surroundings, which are not part of the market and which remain after the market leaves. In chapter four I’ll consider whether plans to transform the spatial patterns of the market will make it no longer an insertion but a permanent component of the fabric. Time and space, then, go hand in hand for our understanding of the market’s ecology.
Time Haymarket stalls are open on Friday and Saturday, from early in the morning until about 7pm. Otto Gallotto, President of the Haymarket Pushcart Association, described to me his weekly schedule: “I started at 4am today [Thursday], and I wont get home till 3pm. It’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday. The other days, Monday to Wednesday, you still have to do all your negotiations [with wholesale vendors]….Tomorrow morning [Friday] I’ll be in here at 2:45am, and wont be home until 7pm. It’s 4am-7pm Saturday; more than 40 hours.” So, even though the market pops up, seemingly like magic, for business on Friday morning, it is truly a weeklong procedure. Gallotto describes hearing the surprised exclamations of hotel guests at the abutting Millennium Bostonian hotel upon seeing the market suddenly manifest, observing that the challenges and time commitment required for making the market run are far more than what we see in physical form. The market runs year-round, with vendors varying their produce based on seasonal availability and affordability. The physical flexibility of the stalls allows vendors to vary their structures based on the weather; in the winter, additional tarps are suspended on the exterior of the stalls, creating an enclosed environment that feels like a covered market. Small space heaters run on generators heat the interior of the stalls, but the stalls must still be open to the outside in order to facilitate efficient stocking from the adjacent storage area, so vendors spend a great deal of time warming their hands. Vendors acknowledge the challenges of working in all weather and all temperatures, and hope for a future that would provide improved amenities for their comfort.
However, the year-round nature of the market is something that is unique for Boston in a number of ways. Farmerâ€™s Markets run only through Thanksgiving (though there are a few that have begun in recent years that run through the winter in indoor locations); outdoor activities in winter are rare. Shoppers note that they value the year-round functionality of the market, both as a public space practice and as a produce market. The new Boston Public Market, and proposed indoor shopping amenities at Parcel 7, will establish a more extensive year-round shopping experience in the market district. Though Haymarket is weekly inserted into the city, rather than a permanent component of its fabric, it is not exactly ephemeral. Haymarket is an historic practice; like the buildings of the Blackstone Block, it has persisted through time. While I will offer interpretation of the significance and meaning of these temporal functions of the market in Chapter 4, it is important to note the contrast between this year-round, historic, yet ephemeral physical practice, and the both contemporary and historic brick-and-mortar structures and establishments that surround it. CHAPTER 3 FUNCTION Haymarket is at the center of Boston, at the nexus of a number of pedestrian and transportation networks. Flows of stakeholders, their capital and their systems of management pass through the market, integrating it into the broader context of the city; presently, many of these flows pass through on the way to something for much of the week, with shoppers and the market actively occupying this public space only for 48 hours per week. However, future plans for Haymarket and its adjacent parcels will emphasize Haymarket as the destination itself: for private capital, for government regulation, for leisure and entertainment.
I’ve called the role of the market and its surrounds in this process of flows and investment its function, the structural role it plays in the city, and how it’s influenced itself by other urban structures.
Space and Transit Vendors acquire their produce at the New England Produce Center, located in Chelsea Massachusetts, where 48 individual wholesalers sell their leftover produce to the vendors at a discounted rate (more on the precise economics of both permitting and product sales will follow in the next chapter). They travel via truck on Route 99 where they have easy access to John Fitzgerald Kennedy Surface Road, which is available in those hours for unloading produce. Sixteen buses stop at the Haymarket bus station, two blocks from the market. These buses can carry passengers from Everett, Medford, Burlington, Lynn, Marblehead, Saugus, Revere, and other adjacent communities to the North of Boston. Also two blocks from the market is the Haymarket subway station, to which Green Line and Orange Line passengers can arrive from Boston’s southern neighborhoods (Jamaica Plain, Roxbury) and Western suburbs (Newton, Brookline). Haymarket is also easily accessible by car, and parking with validation is available at the Parking Garage in Parcel 7. Shoppers take their produce with them on the T, on foot if they live in the neighborhood; some low income shoppers carpool in order to be able to purchase more than they would be able to carry. Tourists arrive at the Haymarket on foot either from Faneuil Hall, via North Street, or through Government Center. In either case, Haymarket is on the way from those sites along the Freedom Trail to the historic North End
and Charlestown. The Rose Kennedy Greenway is not, however, well designed for continuous walking; it is rare for pedestrians to arrive at the market via the Greenway, except en route from the North End. The Haymarket has a fraught relationship with the transportation network in Boston, as its location and access has been repeatedly affected by changes the adjacent Northeast Expressway (NE). In 1952, when the West End was razed for redevelopment and the construction of the elevated highway, Haymarket pushcart vendors were relocated from their previous site of operations, slightly north of its current location. The market continued to operate in the shadow of the NE for almost half a century; in 1972-3, the EPA’s Documerica project visited the Haymarket to photographically document the environmental health concerns of the highway’s impact on the city.14 There is certainly a cognitive dissonance from those photos, in seeing fresh fruits and vegetables sold beneath a massive, congested highway; the Rose Kennedy Greenway in fact was conceived in response to environmental concerns about the need for open space in downtown Boston, and the zoning’s requirement for quality open space reinforces this principle. When the Big Dig began and plans developed for Greenway, the Haymarket and its surrounds were a central locus for discussion, the legacy of which we are only beginning to understand with the development projects that are the subject of this study. One of the reasons for the perceived centrality of the Haymarket site to the Greenway’s success is its location not in relation to the highway, but for pedestrian access and visibility. Haymarket is located on the Freedom Trail, at the nexus between the Greenway ribbon park, the city of Boston’s oldest existing block (the Blackstone Block), and the highly popular North 14
The full collection from Documerica is online at http://ej.msu.edu/documerica/History/history.htm. Accessed April 19, 2012.
End neighborhood. Nearby Faneuil Hall was ranked by Forbes in 2009 as the #4 most visited tourist attraction in the world; the Freedom Trail Foundation estimates that it receives 3million visitors per year, making it the largest tourist attraction in New England (equal to the Red Sox) and generating over 125,000 related jobs.15 The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) commissioned study for the Greenway district identified the Blackstone Block as a key site for investment in existing fabric; Parcel 7 is identified in the same study as a “Critical Edge.”16 Similarly, MassDOT and the BRA, in their RFPs for Parcels 7 & 9, described the benefits of the site this way, using the Freedom Trail’s potential as a foot traffic engine as a driving consideration for design: “Special attention should be paid to the Hanover Street end of the site as it is also the most active pedestrian edge due to the presence of the Freedom Trail and the future Public Market.”17 Response proposals for Parcel 9 all include this consideration. Presently, it is mostly tourists, downtown leisure seekers, and North End residents who pass through the Greenway to the Haymarket on foot; as residential development in Downtown Boston increases, however, casual pedestrian movement between downtown neighborhoods will be increasingly a regular occurrence for Boston residents. Interestingly, however, location is not often cited by shoppers as a positive attribute of the market; aside from North End shoppers who describe their proximity to Haymarket as a cause for shopping, shoppers often travel far distances, by car, bus, foot and public transit, in order to access the Haymarket. Some shoppers appear to carpool in order to increase their carrying capacity; one couple I met shopped with a large wheeling cart but said that they 15
Freedom Trail Foundation case statement. Online: <http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/about/about.html> City of Boston, prepared by Utile, Inc. “Greenway District Planning Study Use and Development Guidelines”. August, 2010. 17 My research observations bears this out: on one mild but still wintry Friday afternoon in February 2012, 50 people passed the intersection of Hanover and Blackstone in the space of 1.5 minutes; at North and Blackstone, the foot traffic rate is closer to 15/1.5 minutes. 16
planned to carry their afternoon’s significant acquisitions home on the T. As the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) feasibility study for the Boston Public Market describes, “Haymarket is not a tourist attraction despite its proximity to Faneuil Hall marketplace and the Freedom Trail. Any future plans for the market district must be cognizant of the profoundly different needs of Haymarket shoppers” (Project for Public Spaces 2009). There seems then to be a tension between the physical location of the market and its proximity to essential tourist destinations - and the benefits imagined to new development because of this proximity -- and the reality of how shoppers use the market as a weekly personal necessity, without particular consideration for its surrounds. "I think of Haymarket as its own island but really it is so close to the Faneuil Hall area,” said one shopper on Yelp,18 emphasizing the experience of place-lessness of the Haymarket site, defining it as separate from the adjacent tourist attractions. But vehicular transportation considerations are particularly important for vendors, who must transport their product from the New England Produce Center to Haymarket on Thursday afternoons and Friday early mornings by flat-topped truck. Access between product acquisition and distribution sites is very convenient, via an almost direct highway route; this convenience would seem to be essential given the historic concurrence of wholesaling and discount retailing that gave rise to the market in the first place. In other words, efficiency is important for the market; even though the product suppliers have been relocated from Quincy Market, their locational synergy with the Haymarket is an important component of this network. Similarly, Parcel 7 has a significant number of parking spaces, both inside at the garage and outside at exterior street parking, that have become objects of some contention in public 18 Boston Resident, 2010. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars.
meetings. Before the Public Market RFP was issued, a Haymarket vendor mentioned concern about lost parking spaces after redevelopment, and the Boston Public Market Commission suggested that the issue of parking would require further study because of the potential new users of the site, such as farmers and office workers.19 Residential roposals for Parcel 9 suggest that residents of their new development will require significantly less vehicular access than traditionally expected, because of its strategic location, emphasizing public transit and car sharing as strategies for addressing the shortage of parking near the site. However, given the knowledge that many shoppers travel long distances to Haymarket, and the PPS finding that low parking prices are an important asset for the market (p.22), parking cannot be ignored even as public transportation and foot traffic to the site are emphasized. Once again, acknowledging that the Haymarket shopper has different access needs than the site users who pass through as part of their tourist or commute on foot experience. Concern in public meetings has also developed around the relationship between Haymarket, the proposed Boston Public Market, and other food shopping resources throughout the city. First, the Boston Public Market Association (BPMA) runs the small but rather successful (and certainly well-liked) Government Center Farmer’s Market, on the other end of the City Hall Plaza from the Market site. There is some question about whether the BPMA will continue to run this market once the market has been developed; right now the Government Center market is one of the few recurring, publicly accessible events on the plaza, and nearby Beacon Hill residents and district employees worry about losing this amenity. 19
Public meeting September 27, 2001, recording, online at http://northendwaterfront.com/2011/09/public-marketcommission-hears-mixed-views-at-state-house-community-meeting/
Second, potential Boston Public Market vendors articulated concern about plans to open a new supermarket on the Waterfront and other competition from farmer’s markets and supermarkets throughout the city. This is especially important for fish and meat vendors, who worry that the reliability of products at formal, indoor food shops might make their seasonally variable products less desirable if there were equal access to both.20 While on the surface this is a question that pertains to competition, demand and supply, it is important to note that this is couched by the vendor in spatial, and access terms -- is the market district a destination or a neighborhood amenity? How would its relative location to other food resources, and the availability of comparable food resources in other neighborhoods, affect this dynamic? Haymarket, as PPS and my field research have suggested, is a metropolitan-wide amenity, but not a tourist attraction; the broader market district will also have to consider how to navigate this spatial and programmatic terrain through decisions about access, amenities, branding and product availability.
Law and Policy Haymarket falls under the city of Boston’s zoning plan for the “Central Artery Special District,” established in 1991. Under this zoning district are design and open space guidelines, massing restrictions, and requirements for conformity with neighborhood context throughout the district. According to the regulations, new constructions on Parcel 7 and 9 should be designed so that the exterior proportions, scale, massing, window treatment, materials, colors, and architectural detailing are compatible with the observable architectural character of the existing structures in the adjacent neighborhood…in order to protect the safety and health of the public, enhance the visual character of the District and adjacent uses, and protect the physical integrity of adjacent parcels and uses during the reconstruction period of the surface Boulevards, Cross Streets, and reuse parcels.
20 Public Meeting 9.27.2009.
In addition, the code emphasizes the importance of high-quality public spaces and pedestrian environments in the district, which it describes “should be consistent with that of the major public and private downtown open spaces of Boston … and the streetscapes of successful pedestrian streets such as Washington Street at Downtown Crossing and Charles Street.”21 These design requirements correspond to a number of planning documents produced by and for the city, which emphasize historic compatibility, continuity of the public realm along boulevards and the waterfront and between the neighborhoods, the reknitting of the city fabric across the central artery site, and high quality urban design for this important downtown series of sites. These guidelines, established over 20 years ago, still provide the foundation for the Parcels 7 and 9 RFPs, such that the transformation of the Central Artery can really be seen as the essential influence on design at the site. The legal positioning of Haymarket as a result of the transformation of the Central Artery is also an essential and unique component of the market’s role in the city as a whole. Note, for example, that this thesis does not ask the question “will Haymarket survive the change in the market district?” This is because Haymarket is protected and designated to take place at its current location, on Blackstone Street, by both local and state statutes. In 1952, when, as previously described, the market was relocated from nearby Haymarket Square, an act of the Massachusetts General Assembly designated the current location to be set aside for the use of hawkers and peddlers to stop or stand for the purpose of selling their merchandise and shall be open for the use of such hawkers and peddlers on Fridays, Saturdays and the days preceding legal holidays from eight o’clock in the morning until midnight, and may be open on such other days as the department of public works may determine; provided, that such hawkers and peddlers carry on their business in comformity to the laws of the commonwealth and the regulations established by the board of health of the city of Boston. (Acts of 1952, Chapter 504)
21 Boston Zoning Code, Article 49, “CENTRAL ARTERY SPECIAL DISTRICT.” June 1991.
Note, first of all, that the term “hawkers and peddlers” is used, with no specification of their products sold. In other words, legally speaking Haymarket is a hawker market, not a produce market. In addition, this passage establishes the governance structure for the market, indicating the relationship between the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Inspectional Services Department (ISD), where the Board of Health is located, as the regulating entities. The schedule is also here established, which as described remains in place today. These parameters are reinforced in the Boston City Ordinance, which further specifies the location of the market (“Blackstone Street from North to Hanover; North Street from Blackstone to Union; Hanover from Blackstone to Union but not including Union Street or any other street within that area”). In addition, it stipulates that the Health Department not only will review the hawkers, it also “shall determine who are proper persons to be licensed and what portion of said Haymarket-Blackstone area they shall be assigned to” (Ord. 1979 c. 6 § 3, 17-3). The permits issued by ISD, then, designate not just the right to vend but also the vending stall location. There is also a complex ordinance that to some extent stipulates that no vendor license may be issued for Blackstone Street west of Hanover, which became the subject of much discussion, between Peter Gori and a vendor, at a public meeting.22 The permitting process for Haymarket vendors is complicated and convoluted, a remnant of the historic practices adapted to suit contemporary needs for transparency. There are 196 licenses in operation at Haymarket, which correspond to the hawker pushcarts that historically operated there; each license costs $155. As of 2011, there were 92 total stalls that corresponded to those licenses (many of them occupy multiple licenses in order to create larger 22
Public meeting, 3/11/2012. 41
stalls), operated by 52 vendors. Most vendors operate two stall sites, one which faces the sidewalk of Blackstone Street and one which faces the Parcel 9 side of the market, the “back” side of the stalls where experienced shoppers access the stall. These licenses have in the past been transferred informally from one vendor to another through an option to buy your neighbor’s licenses when they decide to go out of business, and a notification sent to ISD. In 2010, ISD halted that practice. Some vendors have passed their licenses down through three to four generations; these old-timers are Italian, formerly from the North or West End neighborhood. Otto Gallotto, President of the Haymarket Pushcart Association (HPA), has been in charge of his stall for 27 years (after his father before him) and has been next to his neighbor, Peter, for 10; Gallotto estimates that roughly 80% of the owners are these Italians. He then describes that other owners are “Cambodian, Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan, I think we have Egyptian too, I think Mahmoud is Egyptian, Irish, we had a Jewish vendor.” Once development at Parcel 9 is underway, ISD is expected to initiate new permitting processes that will increase transparency and procedural accountability; HPA vendors have indicated that they were proud of their ability to easily transfer permits from old timers to new immigrants under the traditional, self-regulated system that is no longer in place. Since the 1990s, each license must also pay a trash removal fee to DPW, $1000/license annually (originally it was $500); this roughly covers present outlays, but does not compensate the city for costs incurred prior to fee assessment for overtime to DPW employees. Fee increases are being considered once again; vendors are concerned that this increased overhead will affect their flexibility and the ability for the market to remain an opportunity for new immigrants. Still, trash is a continued concern with the market; PPS’s study identified it as
needing further attention in spite of the fact that in 2009 the City installed new trash compacting facilities on Parcel 9 for $245,000 in capital expenditure. Gallotto expressed appreciation for the city’s attention to trash and sanitation: “It was a great thing that they did; it’s made such a big difference to not have piles of garbage, and it’s clean.” My data also revealed that trash complaints decreased in frequency significantly in 2010, once the new facilities had been installed. Like trash, electricity is a shared facility that requires improved management at the market. As I have described, vendors run space heaters in the winter and lights in the evening at their stalls; these are plugged into outlets on the exterior walls of Blackstone Street businesses by extension cords that run underneath or above the shopping street. On the North Street end of the market, power comes from the Millennium Boston hotel, which charges HPA for its usage; payments, at about $100/week (Peter Gori 3/6/2012) are managed by Gallotto. On the Hanover end, the outlet is at the corner of the Blackstone Block. I have witnessed vocal disputes between vendors about the stability of and access to this outlet, indicating that improved management of electricity access would improve functionality at the market. All proposals for Parcel 9, based on the RFP, included both trash and electric improvements for HPA vendors, which will incur no small cost to the developer in order to build out that infrastructure. The informal arrangement currently in place for electricity indicates another regulatory challenge from the current Haymarket operations: liability and insurance. While all stalls are expected to have individual insurance, the limited oversight of license ownership means it is difficult (or near impossible) for the city to enforce this requirement. While the market as a
whole is covered under a simple blanket policy for Haymarket Pushcart Association, concerns about safety as a result of limited mobility, under-monitored electrical hookups and heating units, wires along the sidewalk, and the self-built stalls themselves area major consideration for the city, and a drive for improvement of conditions, infrastructure, and amenities. As Peter Gori from the BRA explained, “It’s 2012 …We cant just let them do what they want in the public realm.”
Economics For vendors Increased attention to trash and sanitation, electrical safety and liability insurance has an impact on the economics of the market for Haymarket vendors, and, by extension, their customers. For vendors, this has meant an increase in overhead costs such that there are high opportunity costs to failing to vend on any given market day. While in the days of the pushcarts a vendor could choose not to come to market on given day – because of adverse weather, insufficient product or profit margin, or personal reasons – today they must work as many days they conceivably can in order to be sure to recoup their overhead. In this way, the vendors’ businesses have more in common with a brick and mortar business than with a truly informal stall. The Boston Public Market, because it will be centrally managed, will offer permanent stalls, seasonal stalls, and temporary stalls in a way that currently the HPA cannot. Margins for the vendors are small, and rely on an entirely experience-built sense of what sells, for what price, how much, and at what time of year. This process begins on Monday, as Otto described, with an active back and forth between vendors and their
wholesalers at the New England Produce Center, some of whom sell their produce outright, and others who work on consignment accounts. I observed the discussion between several vendors about strawberries (“straws”) one Thursday afternoon, during setup. It was a thin week for product, and the strawberries that one vendor had found were at $45 per flat. They discussed between each other how they would seek better prices from other wholesalers, in short, clipped sentences that were like a code that I could barely understand. This inventory management is done entirely through memory and intuition; vendors have relationships with wholesalers who will keep them updated on product and prices throughout the week, and they have an idea both about what market shoppers will buy and what regular customers will want specific products in bulk. One shopper I spoke with buys berries and fruits in flats from a specific vendor every week, which he has done since he was a child, to make pies, and bring home to his mother. Vendors also know how they expect the product to move throughout the day, marking prices down as inventory moves in order to ensure as little waste as possible at the end of the week. “Fruit breaks down,” says Otto Gallotto, “you take a risk on a certain price, and then you lose money. You have to move the product. I’ve been doing it so long, I have a case of cactus pears, I know when I should have a certain amount, and if I have more than that I lower the price.” I watched this process take place throughout the day, as the vendor calls for an inventory check, makes a quick calculation, and marks down avocadoes from $1/each to $1.50/3 by hand, with permanent marker on cardboard. Unfortunately, because of the cash-only nature of the businesses and their decentralized structure, there is no way to accurately determine sales numbers for the entire market or even for individual vendors. However, Project for Public Spaces estimates that
roughly 15,000 shoppers visit the Haymarket on an average weekend, spending between $10 and $30 per visit (this latter figure is confirmed by my research). Thus, total sales for the weekend can be very roughly estimated at $300,000, meaning that each vendor takes home a gross of about $5,800. Their profit margins are entirely determined by their ability to sell as much produce as they can at their original markup, at the beginning of the week, and as little as possible at the bargain basement (at a loss) prices at the end of the weekend, so the intuition described by Gallotto is essential for success, especially, as he explains to me, as the costs of vending go up. Some weekends, he says, they operate at a loss just because they know it’s better than sinking all of their costs into permitting without any revenue at all. While new immigrant vendors will often already have these skills from having been a vendor in their home country, Gallotto encourages American-born hopeful vendors to apprentice themselves before seeking to manage their own stall, in order to develop this intuition and experience. Some vendors (Gallotto estimates about half) maintain another occupation outside their produce stand, but given the long hours and necessity of constant attention to inventory and fluctuating wholesale prices, this is a challenging undertaking. Anchoring the dynamic pricing and intuitive inventory management of Haymarket vendors is the pervading sense of competition. Vendors see the constant competition between one another to move their product quickly as the drive behind their business; it’s what produces the low prices that customers come for. This is counter-intuitive: in theory, we would imagine that, as businessmen, the vendors would seek to reduce competition in order to increase market share. But, as a Haymarket vendor explained at a public meeting about the Public Market,
We’re not opposed to competition, we have 60 different vendors with over 100 stalls competing with each other every weekend.... [The farmer’s market] can’t compete with each other in the same way that we compete on Blackstone Street. Prices for local food are much higher. If you go to the farmers markets, to Copley or City Hall, if you want to pay $6 for a loaf of bread because it’s whole grain and locally made and has no preservatives in it, then you pay it…. They don’t want HPA guys inside because the average consumer can’t discern between the products and the different prices. What the Haymarket does is provide a service to residents of the Boston public, for produce at a low price.23
The competition directive explains why the Haymarket vendor are not resistant to the development of the Boston Public Market. They explain in public meetings and in conversation that they expect the market will draw more foot traffic, and then they will be able to outcompete the farmers on price. However, vendors do object to what they perceive as the unfair advantages that might be afforded to vendors at the Public Market should it not be limited to farmer-produced, local produce and value-added goods, especially as their costs for permitting and maintenance increase. Citing the $4M public subsidy that the market will receive, the same vendor argued, I have a problem with the state subsidizing a public market, not a farmers market. Who is managing, constructing, and getting to choose what goes in there? Who benefits from that public building with public dollars? If you’re going to use taxpayer dollars…don’t fool people saying it’s going to be a farmers’ market to preserve farmers, and then make a public market.
Vendors understand and support the mission of an agricultural showcase farmer’s market. However, some potential vendors for the farmer’s market argue that they will face disadvantages if held to a local product. What if they can’t support their booth rental in the winter? What if people, used to supermarkets, are turned off the market when they can’t find what they need in the winter? 23 Public Meeting, September 27, 2011. Online: < http://northendwaterfront.com/2011/09/public-marketcommission-hears-mixed-views-at-state-house-community-meeting/> Accessed 3/6/2012.
The Boston Public Market Association’s final proposal does focus on local produce, driven as it is by the interests and passions for local food of the advocate shopper set. However, the proposal does include farmer stalls along Blackstone Street, in the public space outside Parcel 7. The possibility of public funding is an argument also used to resist such encroachment of the indoor market on informal, free market of Blackstone Street. “If they’re going to get all this money from the state government and the federal government,” one vendor said, “let them stay inside and let us keep the sidewalks. We’re the pushcarts outside, that’s what we do.” Nancy Caruso, a long term local resident, also expressed concern about the proposal’s impact on the HPA vendors, in an emotional statement that inspired a lot of chatter at the market the following weekend. “They’ve been there 100 years, they need to be respected and considered,” she said. “But on the Blackstone Street side you’re planning to have an open window area…will the pushcarts be able to use the same space that they have always used? What is the arrangement there?”24 Though HPA and the BPMA have been at the table together for over five years, this situation has yet to be resolved, and it is clear that the economics of vending, the subsidy for development, and the competing interests among citizens, vendors, and government are creating an environment of economic contestation, not competition, along Blackstone Street.
For shoppers As previously described, many shoppers at Haymarket are at least to some extent choosing to purchase at Haymarket out of a desire for a bargain and an appreciation for the potential of good variety and value of their produce. These shoppers exhibit similar traits of 24
Public meeting, March 11, 2012. 48
intuitive practice and experience-based knowledge to the vendors, as they navigate the intensely competitive marketplace seeking the best produce, for the lowest price, that they can find. Many shoppers have a firm price target in mind, bringing only $10 or $20 in cash and holding themselves to finding everything they need for that price limit. Project for Public Spaces estimates that the average shopping trip at Haymarket ranges from $10 to $30. Knowing how and from whom to find high-quality produce for an affordable price is a skill that Haymarket shoppers cultivate and share with each other as badges of pride. One Yelp reviewer in 2011 chronicled her purchases: My $28.50 haul today: 1.5 lb blue fingerling potatoes, 3 gray squash, six ears of corn, four peaches, two orange bell peppers, bag of spinach, 3lbs cherries, 18 ataulfo mangoes, bunch white asparagus, five orange tomatoes, four normal red tomatoes on the vine, 18 oz organic blueberries, 12 oz blackberries, 8 oz feta, 8 oz sharp irish cheddar (this stuff is fantastic), and a bunch of rosemary.25
As illustrated by this description, much of the affordability from the Haymarket comes from the ability of shoppers to buy -- and vendors to sell -- in bulk. I spoke with several regular, long-term shoppers whose weekly purchases of bulk fruits and vegetables are anticipated by vendors. Many occasional Haymarket shoppers, however, have described unwanted pressure from vendors to purchase far more of a given product than they can consume. On Saturday evenings, large quantities of vegetables can be purchased for next to nothing, but they are usually of less desirable quality. In other words, Haymarket shoppers calculate tradeoffs between quantity, price, and quality, each based on their own preferences, and the timing they have available to shop at the market. Quality seekers will generally choose to shop on Friday or 25
Review 5/28/2011. Online: < http://www.yelp.com/biz/haymarket-boston > Accessed 4/29/2012. 49
early Saturday morning; bargain hunters head to the market on Saturday afternoons for deep discounts. The fact that Haymarket sells only whole fruits and vegetables means that it is an important source of affordable healthy foods for Boston area residents. Recent studies have investigated the state of food affordability in Boston, revealing a significant need for improved access to fresh foods at low prices. Farmer’s markets suffer from perceptions of unaffordability (Lightner 2010), but food access oriented policies such as the Bounty Bucks program, which stretches $10 of food stamp dollars double at Farmer’s Markets, has meant that farmer’s market shopping can actually be cheaper for low-income residents than supermarkets, in spite of a roughly 3% premium for farmer’s market produce overall. Haymarket is not included in these studies, however, which have focused on the relationship between farmer’s markets and supermarkets in order to advocate for increased farmer’s market support and presence in lowincome neighborhoods. Part of the rationale that has driven these price comparison studies of farmer’s markets is the understanding that low-income urban residents face barriers to accessing unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whether at farmer’s markets or supermarkets. Conventional wisdom is that low-income residents live in “food deserts,” from which they encounter transit challenges and time restrictions for even accessing whole foods, increasing resident risk for obesity and other diet-related health problems.26 Urban structures like the Haymarket can be understood to be part of the constellation of healthy food resources for the city as a whole: though few low 26 However,
recent studies (Lee 2012, Sturm 2012) have indicated that urban neighborhoods often have more diverse food options than suburban neighborhoods, in spite of perceived transportation insufficiencies, because of the density of resources in urban neighborhoods, as opposed to sprawling suburbs where all activities are cardependent.
income residents live anywhere near the market, it is a resource for individuals in the entire Boston Metro area, supplementing neighborhood food access and acting as a hub for shoppers from numerous areas. And it’s not just low-income shoppers for whom this resource is important. In 2008, New England Cable News ran a story about how the economic downturn, which began in that year, has seen an influx of suburban shoppers seeking more affordable sources of fruits and vegetables. Said reporter Prat Thakkar, “with gas and food prices hitting pocket busting highs, newcomers are now heading to Haymarket, to keep within their budgets….They’re starting to see suburbanites making the trek over here on Fridays and Saturdays.”27 The surprise in Thakkar’s voice says everything you need to know: Haymarket has always been considered an urban resource, for the young, the low-income, for immigrants; changing macroeconomic circumstances have changed the socio-economics of Haymarket’s shoppers. A stipulation of the Boston Public Market RFP is that the market retains affordability and a diverse product mix for shoppers. At public meetings, some shoppers articulated a strong desire for the competition that they believed would provide the best prices for them, while others preferred high-quality, local-only produce, articulating that “they would pay more for better products”28 --- perhaps articulating a conflict among stakeholders regarding their economic and cultural values around food, shopping, and the market.
Prat Thakkar, “Boston's Haymarket offers discounted prices on groceries,” New England Cable News. July 19, 2008. Video online, http://www.necn.com/Boston/Business/Bostons-Haymarket-offers-discounted-prices-ongroceries/1216503186.html. Accessed April 30, 2012. 28 Public meeting, September 27 2011.
For city-wide interests Just as the socio-economics of Haymarket’s shoppers have changed in recent years, so too have changed the socio-economics of Haymarket’s real estate and spatial surrounds. The market’s location near the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a new urban amenity, has initiated a significant change in real estate values and, as a result, the beginnings of a transformation in business mix in the vicinity. The Purple Shamrock, an Irish pub around the corner from the market, announced its closing over the course of research. Reporting on the closing is revealing, tracing the relationship between economic and cultural shifts: “ ‘I think the Purple Shamrock should stay here forever because it’s a staple,’ said a local…. ‘I think it’s a shame closing [sic.], it sort of has a long history in Boston, everyone knows it, tourists know it so it’s a destination spot,’ said another local,” writes WHDH news.29 Other businesses, such as McDonald’s, in the neighborhood have also recently closed, seeing commercial leasing rates rise by over 50%. As redevelopment along the Greenway progresses and the dust continues to settle from the Big Dig, we can only imagine that this trend might continue. Residential prices in adjacent neighborhoods (the North End and Beacon Hill, specifically) are significantly higher than the Boston average, and they have held roughly steady in the downturn since 2008. Plans for the district’s redevelopment will likely enhance property values, as they introduce higherlevel amenities, improved pedestrian conditions, supposedly iconic architecture, and a coherent district identity. Indeed, economic development is one of the driving forces behind the city of Boston’s interests in the Haymarket district. The Public Market is intended as an anchor to drive the 29
“Purple Shamrock to close in September after 30 years,” WHDH News. Online: <http://www1.whdh.com/news/ articles/local/boston/12006960429231/purple-shamrock-to-close-in-september-after-30years/#ixzz1tX5pAgOq>. Accessed 4/30/2012.
redevelopment of the district, which, combined with Italian specialty stores in the North End, is envisioned as a food shopping destination for the metropolitan region, a “regional hub” where you could buy all of the ingredients for a frutti di mare dinner in one place: “fresh local seafood or lobster fresh off the boat, two pounds of tomatoes from Haymarket, pasta from the North End, and maybe dessert as well.”30 Following Project for Public Spaces recommendations, the Market District, including the Public Market, food retail at Parcel 9, and enhanced development in the Blackstone Block, will provide a “diverse array of food retail opportunities [for the] critical mass essential to make it a regional destination.”31 In other words, success of the district requires a comprehensive approach to produce a thorough and well built-out set of amenities and destinations. An oversight body will likely coordinate this process as it moves forward. One could understand the Market District strategy as a method for uniting the tourist resources in the district (Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, the North End, the Freedom Trail) with the regional destination role that Haymarket plays, turning the Haymarket site as a kind of linchpin within Boston’s historic downtown, rather than an empty space in between a disconnected set of resources (figs. 10 & 11). In order to facilitate this redevelopment process, the Public Market at Parcel 7, 28,000 square feet, will initially be leased for five years to the Boston Public Market Association, with opportunities for up to 20 years worth of renewals. Public funding will subsidize $4,000,000 of the up front cost of developing the market, including reimbursing MassDOT for the cost of developing a baseline build-out of the space for the market. Association members familiar with the details of the project (including the architect who initially designed the building in its 30 Yann Tsipis, BPMA Board Member, Proposal Public Meeting. March 12, 2012. 31
Tsipis, 2012. 53
current form) describe the preparation of this currently infrastructural building as costly and time-consuming.32 It is currently projected to open in 2014, a significant extension from initial estimates by MDAR and MassDOT. Parcel 9, with a similar base floor area (29,400 sq ft), will be developed with a 99 year ground lease. Of the four responses to the RFP, two include primarily rental housing (with only the minimum required percentage of units at affordable rents) with market uses on the ground floor (one of which also includes a rooftop agricultural facility), one proposes hotel use with a winter garden, and a fourth is the Boston Museum, a nonprofit history museum with no permanent archival collection, envisioned as an anchor for this historic district, with a market on the ground floor. The Museum’s first proposal, in 2010, was rejected due to perceived financial unfeasibility, which they have attempted to address in their current proposal. A more careful study of the proposals will be considered in Chapter Five, as part of my recommendations for the district. CHAPTER FOUR MEANING "Haymarket is a sacred place. It's an indelible deep-tissue massage for all the senses. It's one of the most vivid, poetic places in all of Boston…It allows cash-conscious or cash-strapped people to enjoy real vegetables and home-cooking without paying (forgive me!) farmer's-market prices. There's more character in ten square feet of Haymarket than in all the sprawling blocks of many American cities.”33
Haymarket’s role in the city of Boston goes beyond its function as a source of affordable fruits and vegetables and a potential site for profitable development. For Boston residents, Haymarket provides a connection to the city’s heritage, to community and social relationships, 32 Public Meeting, March 2012. 33
Yelp Review. Boston resident, 2011. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. 54
and to cultural and political identities. These components of the market’s role supersede the surface features of the market’s practices (that is, the sale of fruits and vegetables), and provide an important baseline for understanding how the site should be approached in the future, for the benefit of all stakeholders. In this chapter, I consider the ways the market makes meaning for its citizen stakeholders, and in some cases, the institutional/governance systems that are managing redevelopment. First, however, let’s consider how other scholars have explored the interrelationship of heritage, redevelopment, public space, and cultural values in contemporary downtowns.
Theories of Authenticity and Heritage Sharon Zukin’s introduction to Naked City (2009), though describing New York city, could well serve as the introduction to this study; it articulates a dialectic relationship between the search for “authentic origins” and the desire for ever more upscale urban consumption. As she states, A universal rhetoric of upscale growth, based on both the economic power of capital and the state and the cultural power of the media and consumer tastes, is driving these changes and exposing a conflict between city dwellers’ desire for authentic origins – a traditional, mythical desire for roots – and their new beginnings: the continuous reinvention of communities (p. 1).
Haymarket, at the nexus between a new “urban amenity” (the Rose Kennedy Greenway), a gentrifying North End neighborhood,34 the Freedom Trail, and the upscale Quincy Market festival marketplace, is almost a physical expression of this “conflict”. But as Zukin continues to explore the role of authenticity in the “upscaling” of New York City, she finds that North End real estate exceeded the Boston median with a sharp increase in 2011, according to http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/North_End-Boston/3453/market-trends/ (accessed 3.16.2012). The Millennium Boston Hotel, adjacent to Haymarket, has a minimum per-night rate of $199 (as of 3.16.2012). 34
authenticity in fact fuels a new kind of upscaling, in which “the experience of origins [sic]” becomes a component of the city’s pro-affluence policies, such as “preserving historic buildings and districts, encouraging the development of small-scale boutiques and cafes, and branding neighborhoods in terms of distinctive cultural identities” (p. 2). In this process, “authenticity has little to do with origins and a lot to do with style;” a symbolic object of consumption that represents taste, uniqueness, a clear indicator of prestige and luxury in our mass-produced society. “Any group that insists on the authenticity of its own tastes in contrast to others’ can claim moral superiority” in this system, argues Zukin. Through this process, as she describes, minority and working-class neighborhoods, traditional shops, industrial districts and working waterfronts, become an instrument of economic and cultural power, rather than places of oppositional identity or economic opportunity. Zukin traces the mechanisms by which heritage, working-class origins, and racial diversity becomes branded as “cool” in a number of New York neighborhoods, and comes upon another process through which “authenticity” is claimed by wealthy or educated new residents: the culture of “grittiness.” In her study of the transformation of Brooklyn, she traces the evolution of the word “gritty” in American culture from the mid-20th century, when it referred to the “style and substance of…film noir movies, ” through the 1970s, when it described “factory towns and urban neighborhoods that were squeezed by plant shutdowns” (p. 51), to the present. The present definition, which identifies “‘gritty’ with a direct experience of life, ” began with the vogue for Brooklyn’s “art galleries, performance spaces, and artisanal beer” in the mid-1990s, conflating “former industrial neighborhoods,” the frontier of urban development, and cultural excitement with this single word (p. 52). Grittiness, then, is a
fundamentally aesthetic concept, representing the visual cues of urban decay and postindustrial “blight” as instruments for constructing the cultural cache of the authentic. Zukin goes out of her way to reiterate that authenticity does not have to do with existing people, or practices, and that it may indeed not even derive from an accurate understanding of the past of a place. Rather, authenticity is constructed by new residents of a neighborhood based on the gritty aesthetics that they have inherited – or, more likely, selected – and appropriated in order to define an elite cultural image. This process begins with “hipster” colonization in search of affordable rents, flexible spaces and industrial-chic, and then is followed by the approval of connoisseurs and cultural elite (such as the art dealers and critics in Brooklyn), and finally the establishment of a “brand” of authenticity that is produced and consumed as a luxury good by a general public. Because authenticity, as Zukin understands it, has little relationship to existing residents or fully understood history, then, the establishment of authentic-looking places and neighborhoods must be understood not as a preservation, learning, or equity-driven practice, but rather as an economic development (and even colonization) one, facilitated by government policies for the purpose of growing their tax base. Zukin’s study, subtitled “the death and life of authentic urban places,” cautions urbanists from pursuing a “feeling” of authenticity – small cafes, historic buildings, active sidewalk life – without careful attention to the nuanced cultural ecology of existing residents. Without such attention policy makers, designers, and developers risk destroying livelihoods and social capital that has been tenuously and passionately cultivated (or at least, hung on to) for generations.
The story of Brooklyn, and the other parts of New York City that Zukin chronicles present important – and perhaps not quite too late – lessons for Boston. Though the waterfront has already been upgraded, condos erected, and luxury hotels built, the Haymarket represents the complex cultural heritage of an immigrant, working-class city that has not yet been “museum-ified”, “festival-ized,” hipster-appropriated, or priced out of existence. However, the fervent devotion to the “real” Haymarket and its concurrent inspiration for real estate and commercial capital investment suggests that some of these processes may be underway. As I will describe, Haymarket’s meaning to different stakeholders, and the conflict that arises between them, reflects that the dynamics that Zukin describes are in active flux, a negotiation in process. At stake in the redevelopment of this area, as in New York, is the pursuit of the aesthetic indicators of “grittiness” and cultural heritage, rather than the maintenance of existing practices. As in the other areas of literature that inform my understanding of the Haymarket, the language of heritage becomes almost a tool for articulating a broader, more social or economic vision than one actually pertaining to the preservation of a community’s past. As Zukin describes the appropriation of the “authentic” for the purpose of producing “cool,” so other thinkers have understood the tricky relationship between appreciation and consumption. Gary Edson (2004) addressed this question directly: Where does the myth end and heritage begin? Perhaps they are the same, and if they are, then the notion requires no further explanation. However, the question acquires a different patina if, when the myth ends, the commerce (in the broadest sense of the concept) begins. The history of humankind is filled with interesting examples of myths evolving through heritage to commercialisation. The examples, old and new, include beliefs, practices, and invented traditions. In most instances, the event or circumstance moved through two or more of these stages to find full endorsement as commercial ventures clocked in the trappings of heritage.
This process of commercialization takes on particular urgency when it is implicated in the decision made by governments about development and public policy, as in New York City’s case. Is a city a museum, its environment carefully “curated” to communicate a sense of history to residents? Is it a playground for the wealthy, conferring status to its residents based on its beauty and pedigree in the way that owning an antique painting might? Is it a place where the future is valued and the past is a burden, where upward mobility is synonymous with sloughing off the unpleasant past? Or is it a place where communities, new and old, are able to forge new futures while staking claim to the practices and places that make them feel most connected to who they are? Another essential distinction to present in this discussion is that between heritage and historicity. Historicity refers to the semblance of history, in the form of historic-style architecture, “ye olde timey” public design and interventions, and other, less literal, attempts to recall the past through contemporary effort (nouveau food trucks come to mind). Such places are often clean, planned, and controlled. Zukin probably finds them boring; Dolores Hayden describes this as part of a classically American project to invent histories based on contemporary identities and politics. The counterpoint to this would be the kind of approach to the city that scholars and practitioners following the model of John Ruskin (1849) have advocated, namely, the development of “patina,” or layers of accumulated time in a place that can produce multiple meanings and an aesthetic effect of age, wear, and change over time. Historicity is to some extent codified in American historic preservation practice, through the idea of “period of historical significance.” According to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards
for the National Register of Historic Places, “period of significance refers to the span of time during which significant events and activities occurred. Events and associations with historic properties are finite; most properties have a clearly definable period of significance.”35 Historic properties are “treated” in order to emphasize and interpret sites specifically through the lens of this period of significance. However, this approach renders static what is an inherently cyclical and dynamic process of layering, encountering and re-encountering between time periods, events, people and culture. Haymarket provides a fascinating laboratory for understanding these two approaches, particularly to public space; while the market’s practice and its surroundings are probably appropriately “gritty” to satisfy both Zukin and Ruskin, nearby is the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, redeveloped in 1976 as a “festival marketplace.” The Marketplace’s promotional materials tout its historical qualifications, proclaiming: “As alive today as it was in 1742 when our nation's fathers proclaimed it ‘The Cradle of Liberty,’ it combines the glories of Boston's past with the urban sophistication of the city today.”36 Urban sophistication. Subtext: clean, not-smelly, packed with souvenir-buying opportunities and mid-to-high-end retail shopping, and probably nobody swearing at you if you pick up their merchandise. History might be in the promotional materials for both, but there is certainly something different between an active produce market that is little changed from the one the vendors’ grandfathers would have recognized, and a shopping mall in a historic site. This is not to ignore the successes of the Festival Marketplace in Boston and as a model for elsewhere. Faneuil Hall Marketplace was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ 35
http://www.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb39/nrb39_ii.HTM http://www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com/. Accessed March 19, 2012. 60
“Twenty-five year award” in 2009, and is one of the most frequently visited sites in Boston. It is constantly active – from tourist families in the morning to drunken revelers late at night – and is an especially important amenity for families with young children looking for free entertainment, as it has a thriving street performer program featuring everything from magicians to acrobats to historic reenacters. However, I am suggesting that the relationship to the notion of heritage, and the understanding of the purpose of heritage implicit in the space, is quite different between the two sites. The question is, is patina something that can produce thriving urban amenities; if not, at what cost, and to whom? And what could possibly promote patina in a real way, when it is the result of a natural and organic process? Other work on community change (Brown-Saracino 2009) describes the fact that residents concerned with neighborhood character identify particular kinds of existing businesses for preservation, essentially constituting a construction of symbolic neighborhood identity. These concerned new residents, whom Brown-Saracino calls “social preservationists,” often “pick winners”: old timers who provide a symbolic heritage to the district through their commercial traditions, residential aesthetics, or merely the fact of their being. This is presented in contrast to the “pioneer” gentrifiers, who see themselves as entering an urban wilderness that they must tame and improve through their work and lifestyles. In either case, Zukin would argue that this is a process of appropriation. Whether new residents in Boston’s North End advocate for policies that support their local Italian small businesses (and they do37) or patronize new yoga-gear boutiques in their neighborhood (and they do), these new residents are turning the pre-existing place and its residents into a good to be consumed or a context to be changed. But Brown-Saracino describes concern and empathy 37
Public meetings, 9/27/2011 and 3/11/2012. 61
also as the drivers of social preservation. Social preservationists are keenly aware of the impact of their actions, and seek to mitigate their consequences, though often in the process simplifying and codifying understanding of the neighborhood’s past. In my discussion of how developers, city officials, and different citizen interest groups “make meaning” out of the market, these nuanced understandings of the impact of neighborhood change on old timers, and the range of impulses that arise to counteract these impacts, directly illustrate the dialogue between Zukin and Brown-Saracino on this point. Another way to understand the process of both hipster colonization and social preservation is by invoking the idea of “symbolic identity” (Waters 1990). In Mary Waters’s book Ethnic Options, personal symbolic identity is constructed out of a narrative of an ethnic past, particularly by middle class whites. “Ethnicity is increasingly a personal choice of whether to be ethnic at all, and, for an increasing majority of people, of which ethnicity to be” (p.147). Cultural symbols, traditions, practices and references can be enacted by these white Americans in order to articulate a sense of self, a sense of belonging. One can understand social preservation as an aggregated process of “symbolic identity” construction by which a community articulates a shared heritage through indicators such as urban design, branding, and shared norms of consumption, for the purpose of determining a future collective identity. This process happens not only for the benefit of residents and new residents, but also for outsiders, telling a clear, specific story of the city to tourists in an effort to create a pleasant, consumable experience for tourists. Dennis Judd (1999) describes the “tourist bubble” wherein city governments and developers create a safe, controlled, interpreted urban experience for the benefit of tourists who are a “principal component of the new economic
development strategy” (p.35). In this bubble, “tourist and entertainment facilities coexist in a symbiotic relationship with downtown corporate towers, often with a substantial spatial overlap: shopping malls, restaurants, and bars.” These spaces are also scrubbed clean of grime and crime, the antithesis of Zukin’s “gritty” cities. The nearby festival marketplace exemplifies this approach; it is essentially a shopping mall and set of restaurants couched in a historic site, with reenactments and souvenir shoppes attending them, adjacent to the city’s Financial District. However, we might imagine, based on Zukin’s critique, that a thoroughly realized Market District would provide a tourist bubble for a new generation, with authenticity replacing luxury as the object and context for consumption: carefully “curated” to provide an authentic experience, without the incursion of non-thematically consistent elements, with consumption and leisure occupying a space that previously was a space of work. The collision between places of informal work and places of aesthetic consumption and leisure characterizes Zukin’s gritty city, is essential for understanding critiques of planning and redevelopment that are introduced by scholars of public space and informality.
Theories of Informality and Public Space Students of everyday urbanism and tactical urbanism describe a cultural and spatial process that exists in opposition to, or at least is critical of, transformation of public space into a consumer product for the purpose of tourism or residential gentrification. Through informal economic and personal practices, temporary public space interventions (whether art installations or public space “hacks”), and even simply occupying public space, citizens are able to exert control over urban space in an expression of voice and resistance to dominant political
economic forces, and to experiment in a way that is otherwise prevented in the formalized public realm of contemporary American cities. Crawford (1999) explores these practices as a way of asserting identity and compensating for insufficiencies in a new environment by immigrants. “Everyday space,” as she describes it, stands in contrast to the carefully planned, officially designated, and often underused public spaces that can be found in most American cities….Ambiguous like all in-between spaces, the everyday represents a zone of social transition and possibility with the potential for new social arrangements and forms of imagination (p.6).
Haymarket is such an “in-between” space, and in this chapter I explore what kinds of social arrangements and possibility are created by this condition. It may be that in-between-ness is also a component of the imaginative mode that is often invoked by Haymarket studies. It is clear that Haymarket stands at the intersection of the “officially designated” and the “ambiguous” in the city. As Crawford and others explore, in-between spaces are an important category of public spaces, with specific and increasingly endangered implications for nonbourgeois interactions, contestations and interaction between “multiple publics” (Fraser 1993, aq. in Crawford, p. 25). These “everyday” actors are enabled by the liminality of such public spaces to resist encroachment by the state and pressures of economic consumption through informal economic practices and, simply, occupation. There is peril, as Crawford sees it, in taking over undefined public environments – sidewalks, parking lots, vacant buildings – through specific government actions, regardless of whether they are intended to benefit the disempowered. My conversations with Peter Gori and other city officials in Boston and beyond indicate that the understanding of public space by city governments is fundamentally different. Public
space is shared, and as such must be managed in order to ensure equal treatment to all stakeholders, and a comfortable environment for everyone. Handicapped access, restroom availability, navigable pathways and a clear ground plane, not to mention controls for public safety and harmonious interactions, are an important part of what urban governments provide to their constituents. If informal users of space are given control over their environment, this will disempower others who have equal right: the tourists, the residents, and others who have different values of the space. I sympathize with this perspective and think that sometimes theorists and informality advocates see this issue too radically, in black and white. Just as it does no good to overdetermine public space, so it is detrimental to our cities to devolve authority completely and ignore the fact that many residents and visitors do value the groomed, themed environments like Faneuil Hall. As such, I do recommend in Chapter 5 that improvements to the space to provide amenities and access. However, as public space theorists argue, citizen-generated uses and structures are also a potential driver for equity in cities. In their collection about tactical urbanism, Florian Haydn and Richard Temel (2006) describe the way temporary public space interventions exist specifically in resistance to the privatization of public space – for real estate interests – and the formalization of public space – for the purpose of government control. Temporary public space practices, like breakfasts on government lawns, are developed as a critique of the trend towards master planning, long-term real estate ownership, and other static property approaches that they believe are fundamentally counter to the dynamic, ever-changing nature of a vital city. Such interventions, then, provide opportunities to subvert the existing complicity. Subversion relies on the fact that “an
important aspect of temporary use is that institutionalizing it [particularly through master planning] usually hurts more than it helps” (11).38 Other proponents of a more temporally flexible urban environment describe the devastating impacts of over-determined physical spaces, and the need for “infringement” that it engenders, even going so far as to term this aggression “planning neurosis” (van Casteren 2010). This concern for the negative effects of over-planning on residents has prompted a twin interest in informality. Michelle Provoost (2010) describes this as an “enormous nostalgia for the historical, ‘organic’ city.” In this context, the pursuit of the authentic and “organic” produces not an effort to fixin-time, but a desire to liberate from rigid expectations of planning and conformity. It is not even about the understanding of heritage or the construction of identity; rather, it is about a lost way of life. In other words, contemporary urban fashion is for Haymarket, not Faneuil Hall. Zukin would agree – it’s gritty. But, in view of Haydn and Temel’s critique of planning, the question becomes whether the justification of the intervention (“to produce foot traffic,” “to create 24/7 activity,” “to restore historic use patterns and excitement”) is in fact the most prominent outcome of this work. It is often hard to separate, as the studies of community change imply, the pursuit of the organic from the pursuit of the educated, wealthy residents and visitors in search of the organic. However, empirical evidence, such as that offered by van Casteren and Crawford, does suggest that there is more to this organic, historical city than appearances. The further question posed, however, is: Even if flexibility and “organic-ness” were considered desirable for their own sakes, could we use planning to get us there? 38 As I mentioned in Chapter 2, however, it is important to note that, while Haymarket is interstitial, it is not entirely impermanent, to the extent that it is a long-lived practice that has been institutionalized both through government and tradition over a long period of time.
Indeed, work in the political science field today emphasizes the importance of citizengenerated solutions to public problems as a key to developing political power, community cohesion, and civic engagement (Fung 2001 & 2006). When considered as processes of capacity building, temporary practices take on a whole different meaning than simple “street enlivening” (though, admittedly, an empty street can certainly be a problem in itself). Critical legal studies of vending and other public space uses also emphasize the agency of the vendor or other public space occupier as an important component of empowerment (Blomley 2007). Some publicly sanctioned vending types, such as food trucks, are now the subject of intense municipal discussion and interdepartmental negotiation because of the government’s need to regulate and its desire to facilitate the flexibility needed for this kind of “authentic-chic” practice (Lempel and diLisio 2012). Moreover, current political strategies of public occupation have drawn attention also to the visual and legal impact of using public spaces for multiple, non-intended purposes, even creating dialogue about the ownership of public spaces by private companies, as exemplified for the online protest project #whOWNSpace, affiliated with the #Occupy movement, which maps the privately owned public spaces in New York City39 and produces white papers on the issue and its relationship to democracy, and citizenship. The public safety and health argument certainly plays a part here – as it does for the Haymarket – but this is bound up in concern about difference, poverty, and undesirability just as it is an accurate and necessary assessment of public needs (Loukaitou-Sideris and Ehrenfeucht 2009). Certainly, it may be that not all temporary public space practices, simply by the virtue of their being temporary, must of necessity be conceived and approached as oppositional and un 39
formalizable. However, combined with Crawford’s study of the implicit contestation in public space practices by immigrants, and the question of temporal rigidity in the context of Zukin et.al’s critiques, it seems reasonable to assert that some consideration for the benefits – cultural, political, and economic – of informality is necessary when studying practices like the Haymarket. This is challenging because even though, as Haydn and Temel suggest, informal and temporary uses are not formalizable and planning is problematic, American cities (both public officials and most of the citizens who elect them) expect a level of amenity and predictability only achievable under government management. Even the vendors at Haymarket, whom we might imagine would not prefer government oversight, appreciate and like the benefits provided by their regulating city departments, and seek further government support. So, perhaps it is incumbent upon the planners, designers, and policy makers who manage public spaces to consider how to maintain or enhance opportunities for citizens to intervene, gather, and improvise in public spaces. It is not only civic equality and political engagement that is enhanced by such public, “everyday” practice. Temporary physical forms and cultural practices are an important outlet for managing change in cities, providing opportunities for resilience and adaptability. Rooted not in a political but an ecological, spatial understanding of the need to build non-rigid urban environments, temporary public space practices can be seen as a counter-cyclical measure, providing outlets for downsizing on the one hand and experimentation on the other. This is described very clearly by Rudolf Kohoutek and Christa Kamleithner (2006), who argue that
there are numerous activities within the whole spectrum of urban uses, for which the private real estate market has only inadequate supply…these include a range of social uses, such as club activities, space for children and young people [and the old], in general social activities that need space but not over the long term…. Another variety
of the urban economy is encouraging innovation…which need special spaces and production conditions that the normal market offers only on an inadequate scale and or at unafforadable prices.
In the context of heritage, then, we can imagine that temporary practices allow for the bones of the built environment to remain constant, while the actual practices and needs of current residents – whoever those may be – are accommodated by the use and enhancement of those spaces. The uses and practices of a previous generation might be codified and therefore become a component of that longstanding context, or might be allowed to obsolesce and transform in order to better suit needs. Temporary interventions then either adapt or insert into existing fabric, allowing for low-risk experimentation and easily reversal approaches to needs and opportunities that will inevitably change over time. Consider for example how the Haymarket vendors adapt their stalls to fit the seasons, choose to set up their stalls or not depending on the availability of capital, and even relocate to accommodate such large infrastructure projects as the Big Dig. The social component of this kind of urban re-use should not be ignored. The literature of third places, such as Roy Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place (1989), emphasizes the role of interstitial, non-places and their role in producing informal social relationships. Similarly, Jane Jacobs (1961) equates the life of the sidewalk, its informal interactions and unexpected conversations, and the public characters who host them, with a socially vibrant community. Jacobs’s argument clearly underlines the planning goals of many contemporary cities.40 Richard Sennett (1970), writing a decade later, however, argues that the diversity and 40
Sometimes, I would argue, problematically, as in many places, the social and physical fabric on which Jacobs based her research no longer exists, and to attempt to recreate it is more challenging than building narrow streets and licensing corner stores in residential neighborhoods. I would point out that one of Jacobs’s case studies is the North End.
“disorder” of city life is essential for a healthful society, but that the condition that Jacobs describes can never be restored, and that “we need to find some condition of urban life appropriate for an affluent, technological era” (p.51). This means finding a counterforce to the “gradual simplification of social interactions and forums for social exchange, underlying an ever-increasing elaboration of technological and bureaucratic systems.” The source of this counterforce, he argues, might be in the same poor communities that Jacobs favors, where informal economic practices and the push and crowd and daily life nurtured deep social interactions and a diverse social environment. Let it be clear, however, that Sennett and others (Roy 2005) have warned us against the “aestheticization of poverty.” Informal economic practices arise as a consequence of scarcity, allowing both buyers and sellers to compensate for insufficiencies and inefficiencies in the existing formal infrastructure. In the case of Haymarket, the sale of near-expired vegetable products helps vegetable wholesalers to maintain appropriate levels of inventory throughout the week, and provides affordable fruits and vegetables to Boston area residents at a very low price. In order to maintain this low price, the vendors, who are the middlemen in this system, in theory should be able to use their flexible hours and physical space in order to respond to the needs of both sides of the market, choosing only to set up their stalls and sell certain goods when necessary. The physical property of a space’s ability to expand or contract to meet the physical, social, and economic needs of its particular constituency at a particular point in time can be understood as “elasticity.” However, many proposed designs for the site reinforce not this economic arrangement and its spatial implications, but instead the aesthetics of vending:
bright colors, the romance of the hustle and bustle, the “mythic,” as Sennett would call it, collective identity that the market represents. I convey Roy’s caution in my study, hoping to enforce a nuanced understanding of how the market works and what it means, not just how it looks, as the guiding principle for redevelopment. Elastic places also provide opportunities for informal contact, resisting the intensification of family life that has accompanied the rise of the middle class (Oldenburg, Sennett). Informal contact is important for mental life and our civic engagement, for producing a more multi-stranded personal identity and socio-economically integrated populous. It is also, argues Jonah Lehrer (2012), essential for our creativity; “it is the human friction that makes the sparks.” Incorporating elasticity into cities also has important implications for historic preservation and innovation in the built environment, as well, which is particularly powerful in the context of the rigidification of urban spaces as described by Zukin and Fainstein. Rather than a strict focus on preservation (this must not change for the sake of memory and continuity) or growth (for the sake of progress we must go out with the old and in with the new) an elastic city is reinvented and reimagined. Reversible structures and temporary uses rest lightly on the land, allowing the existing fabric to remain without becoming static. Policies that enable reuse and transformation of existing buildings allow meanings to change but traces to remain. Flexibility becomes a new way to understand the management of change in cities, both in terms of our shared identity and our built environment.
History, Memory, Identity What’s important about Haymarket is that it does not yet function like hipsterheritage-authenticity, as Zukin describes, nor as a tourist bubble, as described by Fainstein & Judd. While the language of both is present in the discussions of redevelopment, today Haymarket is still a proto-“heritage product.” In some ways, we can understand this as a result of the fact that the market retains its original function in the city, as described in the previous chapter: it is a source of affordable produce meeting market demand and correcting the inefficiencies of the produce distribution system; a fairly informal, but lifelong structure of immigrant businesses (though increasingly high overhead, threatening this practice) with selfmade physical structures, self-provided (though increasingly less so) amenities, and selfregulated permitting (again, though increasingly regulated by the city); a destination for local shoppers from the Boston area (increasingly, even, suburban residents), and not a tourist destination. So, to understand the historical meaning of the market, we must iterate between its long traditions, and its present-day interpretation, as right now they exist in tension with each other, as Haymarket is a place – a practice – out of time. (fig 12)
Vendors For the Haymarket vendors, history is alive and well. Vendors introduce themselves and begin their personal stories with a description of their family legacy at the market. At a public meeting, one vendor proclaimed, “I’m 3rd generation now; my father used to send me down the street to see what Andy’s father was selling peppers for, or Chris Gamboni’s father was selling peppers for.”41 “Everyone does the same thing every week,” Otto Gallotto tells me. “You'll see 41
Public meeting September 27, 2011. 72
the same people and you know them. It would be a shame if that goes away.” For the vendors, history is not about remembering the past, or about specific features of a historic place or practice, but about family legacy and tradition. Snyder’s free verse captures the sense of personal and family legacy, and cultural affiliation – the market is an immigrant place – vividly. Haymarket appears at the center of a broader cultural narrative of the city, and the country, and the massive influx of working class immigrants who flooded urban neighborhoods before 1924 and redefined city character and traditions. The voices of some of these immigrants still spoke in 1970, just as now I speak to their grandsons and great-grandsons. I was born in Lithuania. Came here in 1917. I came from Ireland the first o’May, 1917. I live in East Bosotn. My father came from Sicily About 1920. Oh I was brought up in the West End. My folks came from Sicily in 1921 I been workin steady in this market since 1934. I’ve been here since 1923. I was down in this mahket when I was 7 years old. 33 years down in this mahket here. 53 years, 53 years, always down here in the market.
As Snyder’s aesthetic capturing indicates, however, though vendors experience history themselves as a lived practice, for the other stakheolders, as we will see, the vendors are an essential part of the authenticity that they identify with the market.
Shoppers feel deeply the tradition and identity manifested and embodied by the vendors and their traditions. A characteristic Yelp review describes the market as “the best and worst of Boston," featuring vendors with "thick Mass accents" in the midst of a "frenzy of quick commerce."42 Others wax eloquent about the essential Bostonian-ness of Haymarket, using the language of authenticity: “The people there are unabashedly real, and kind, and colorful."43 Interestingly, Boston natives, tourists, and transplants all use this same language in their descriptions of their market, using the extent to which they feel a “part” of the market, and, as repeatedly invoked, its local accents, as an indicator of their own authenticity. “Even after being in Massachusetts for 6 years I still feel like a tourist in Boston and sound it too, apparently."44 As I will explore later in this chapter, in-group identification at the market is associated with being a “real Bostonian,��� just as the traditions of the market are associated with “real” Boston. In this way, Haymarket emerges as an indicator of a symbolic, mythic collective identity, the Boston native with claims to Irish, Italian roots and a working-class tradition from generations ago. In this language we can also see some of the authenticity phenomenon that Zukin describes; a group of aesthetic shoppers values this “real” Boston, but does not identify with it. It may be that proposals for redevelopment at Haymarket capitalize on the desire of new Bostonians and tourists to be a part of this authentic environment by introducing modernized, navigable amenities into the site for consumption by those who value the market for its symbolic, and not its economic function.
Boston reviewer, 2011. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. Brookline, MA resident, 2011. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. 44 Lowell, MA resident, 2009. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. 43
Developers “These guys are the heart and soul of the district, they create the ambiance and are a major part of the future of this project,” said a developer of Parcel 9, at a Parcel 7 public meeting.45 Like some shoppers, developers understand that the character of the district is found in the authentic practices of the Haymarket vendors. They use the language of history, invoking the Haymarket of Boston’s past in their proposals and public presentations, and arguing that their project will be able to restore the site to its previous, pre-central artery condition. This historic approach seems to be intended as an indicator of legitimacy for the project, reflecting the culture of historic claim-making described by Zukin and Fainstein in the construction of value for districts and cities. Yann Tsipis of the Boston Public Market Association,46 for example, gave an extensive presentation about the history of the site in his public meeting, using a familiar language about a lost past that must be reimagined through the development process. In the early 20th century, Tsipis describes, the Market district was multifaceted; it “still bustled” even on non market days because of the density of locally owned retail. It was a “regional hub.” The central artery construction, he explains, “threw asunder” the market district, and the promise of the Boston Public Market is to reclaim and restore that history by reintroducing food vending to the district and knitting across the seam of the Central Artery to connect the Market District to the North End. I don’t doubt Tsipis’s passion for local history and his belief in the value of the Public Market for the district, and the importance of reviving a part of the city that has been buffeted by large-scale plans for generations. I can’t deny however the fact that this historic narrative 45
Public meeting, March 11, 2011. Tsipis is the author of a number of historical studies of this area, including Boston’s Central Artery, from the Images of America series, and is affiliated with MIT’s Center for Real Estate. 46
seems carefully constructed to legitimate present-day development goals based on the argument that it will “restore the past.” This is the meaning of the history of the market for real estate and development interests: it is an inspiration, yes, and a justification tool for convincing a notoriously development-averse public of the value of their projects. It’s “ambiance.” Here is Hayden’s active history-making at work: developers invoke a past that reflects the present, and their goals for the future. There’s a sense too that the Boston Public Market Association and the potential Parcel 9 developers, which include a Boston Museum and a number of specialty food markets that continue the retail identity of the North End, are seeking to create a sense of aesthetic historicity that they believe will be appealing and “authentic” to residents and tourists. Much is made in public meetings and other presentations by Boston Public Market representatives about how they want the market to have a “sawdust on the floor” aesthetic – not too fancy, in keeping with and respectful of the blue collar history of the district and invoking a kind of rural environment bridges the urban consumers and the farmers who will be selling their food. This is an interesting attempt at simultaneous messaging as it attempts to conflate the rustic and the working class; the Haymarket vendors joke with each other about how they can’t expect to have stalls inside the public market because, “Didn’t you hear? We’re not farmers!”
Planners Documents prepared by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and its consultants, public comments by city officials, and my interviews with Peter Gori make clear that the city values Haymarket as an important part of the city’s history. “It’s a vestige of a different era,” described Gori, that gives the city “character.” It is this as much as economic concerns, he
explains, that drives the BRA’s desire to redevelop and improve the environment of the market district. As such, he articulates a commitment to the market and its vendors that reflects the fact that, as much as he is a planner, he is also a resident of the city who has been influenced by the power of the market in the city’s history and feels he and his colleagues have a responsibility to preserve what’s important about the market for posterity. He describes that other public officials have also expressed strong commitments to Haymarket’s history, such as former Massachusetts Senate President Robert Travaglini, who worked there in his youth. The zoning code emphasizes historical continuity of the physical fabric as well, requiring “contextual” development along the Greenway. These sources also articulate a responsibility “to support those who were adversely affected by the Central Artery, and to recognize the political, cultural, and economic repercussions of the Big Dig” (Gori). The Greenway study prepared by Utile, Inc. emphasizes this process and the city’s newfound ability to reconnect the downtown neighborhoods to the harbor, to convert what had been the backs of buildings to new frontages…. If the elevated highway divided the City, the new park system has begun to stitch together old neighborhoods. Beyond the repairing of the urban fabric, the Greenway has also created connections between districts that were previously remote (p.9).
Once again, the sense of “repairing” a fissure, to restore the district to a previous state, is the defining argument for treatment. We can recognize the historic preservation language of “period of historical significance” in this approach: Boston’s period of significance seems to be the often-invoked turn of the century, when the Italian and Irish ethnic immigrants were powerful cultural forces, the industrial economy was booming, and the romantic, preautomobile vending practices of Haymarket and Quincy Market thrived. I don’t deny that the Central Artery and its legacy of demolition and health impacts were devastating for the city of
Boston; however, I do find problematic, as have others who have wrestled with questions of preservation and demolition of urban infrastructure of this same period (Caratzas 2008), the impulse to try to “return” the city to an earlier state. “We must look beyond their role in destroying buildings and carving up neighborhoods without glossing over that major component of their history” (p.55). The isolation of the North End created by the erection of the Expressway helped to nurture the neighborhood’s now-famous Italian identity, for example. The “turf” of social relationships and conflict, which I will explore in the following sections, might in fact be usefully defined by the Artery’s legacy. This impulse to unite, to reknit is clearly deep at the heart of the planning recommendations for addressing the history of Haymarket. Whether this is motivated by an economic goal (seamless transitions between districts will increase movement through the city so that tourists and shoppers can access destinations and amenities), a “placemaking” goal (unified districts are more attractive and livable, and promote pedestrian movement) or cultural (our city must be “healed” from the trauma of destruction that the Artery represents) would be excellent fodder for future study.
Social Networks Spend any time with Otto at his stall, or speaking with Haymarket’s regular shoppers, and you’ll discover that Haymarket is a third place, in the purest sense of the word. Otto connects patrons to one another enthusiastically: the first day I met him, I watched him snap his cell phone open and call someone in the middle of a conversation, to put people in touch with each other or ask a question that might help him build a relationship between two people. A friend and her daughter came to the stand, for example, and when Otto learned that the
daughter attended the same college as his daughter, he immediately called his daughter so that the two could talk to each other right away. Another day, as I interviewed him a couple walked past. Otto interrupted our conversation to greet them with a yell and a wave, “Hey! How are you!” The man introduced his wife. “Otto Gallotto [shakes the woman’s hand],” Otto says, “Oh, I’ve met you before!” The stall also acts as a third place by hosting political conversation and equalizing social relationships across age, class, and political lines. One Friday afternoon, a local government official stopped by the stall to shoot the breeze. Otto and I caught him up on our conversation, which was about a scandal that had recently been uncovered: the executive director of the nonprofit that manages one of Boston’s parks had been found to be collecting an extremely high, it was thought, salary. Otto expressed admiration of a local citizen journalist who had been covering this issue for the neighborhood, which Otto had been following (and whom he of course knew). The official, however, informed us that that journalist had in fact gotten some of his information wrong, and explained the nuances of local public space financing like he was commenting on the Red Sox. This anecdote describes a circumstance in which Otto’s stall became a third place, where conversation is welcome and boisterous, epitomizing “downward” socializing where individuals of all social and political standings are equalized through the rules of friendliness and conversation. Prat Thakkar, from New England Cable News, also identified the important social function of Haymarket: “the vendors here are kind of friends with their customers,” she said, “they’re the regulars who’ve come here for decades.” At the back of Otto’s stall I met an oldtimer who remembered Otto’s father, and a shopper whose parents had dragged him to the
market every week as a child, who now buys fruit for his mother every week to bake her pies. “I go to Haymarket because of the relationships,” he said. This has been true for many generations: Wendy Snyder’s account of Haymarket in 1970, which combines the affordability and the patron shopper sensibilities, described that “customers come from all parts of Boston and its suburbs not only to buy food at the best prices around (a fact which allows many families to avoid the humiliation of welfare) but also just to watch the crowd, to be part of the crowd, and to hold animated conversations with their friends.” Beyond these direct human relationships, however, is the sense that the Haymarket shoppers themselves share something. When I went through the market asking shoppers about their techniques for finding the right produce, or how they keep all of the prices in their mind as they go through, they were happy, even proud, to share with me their methods. One young woman offered to help me shop. Another, a middle-aged woman with her daughter, wished me luck after offering me advice. This camaraderie seems to come from the sense that all Haymarket shoppers have learned to navigate a tacit set of rules of behavior, which makes them all part of an “in-group” that shares norms and behaviors. Shared norms is in fact one of the hallmarks of social capital; just as the conversation at Otto’s stall takes place between individuals across a range of social strata, so does the sharing of norms at the market. On Yelp, there is a pride that underlies shoppers’ careful enumerations of “the rules of Haymarket,” which they understand to be and describe as “unwritten” or tacit. One responded to market naysayers with this recommendation: “"I can see where they might be rude -- especially if you don't follow the unwritten rules of their particular stall-- but if you just take your cues from
fellow perusers and you act cute and sweet and polite, they will respond to you with kindness and you will walk away with a bag full of exciting deals."47 As we can see, at Haymarket “the idea that entertaining and socializing is a public activity” (Sennett 1970, p. 76) is alive and well. That it is associated with a working-class tradition perhaps is no surprise; that it feels like a connection to the city’s past is perhaps also not a surprise; as Sennett observes, this kind of public socializing has long been considered the domain of the blue collar, as well as a thing of the past. Shopper comments also indicate that in their imaginations, public socializing is also associated with foreign countries. "Walking through the many tables of produce of all varieties, fresh fish vendors, the bread dude, I could hear the music from Aladdin start to play,” wrote one reviewer.48 "Haymarket is definitely an experience,” wrote another. “It is like shopping at an outdoor market in a foreign country, in fact most of the shoppers are foreign and they have honed their skills.”49 Shoppers conflate the fact that the market “feels foreign” with the fact that the market itself is surprisingly multiethnic, creating a hybrid mythic identity and bridging social capital that reinforces the social function of the market. While as late as 1970, Haymarket vendors represented the “traditional” immigrant ethnic groups of Boston – Italians, Irish, and Jews – today, 20% of stall owners and even more stall employees come from new immigrant communities, as previously described. This creates opportunities for interethnic socialization within the Haymarket Pushcart Association; indeed, Otto Gallotto expressed pride at the diversity of the HPA and its ability to let new immigrant groups in as the times changed. “It’s a new immigrant market,” he says. “Fifty years ago the 47
Boston resident, 2010. This shopper rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. Somerville resident, 2011. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. 49 Dedham resident, 2008. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars. 48
new immigrants were the Italians, and now it’s moving to these new groups.”50 This multiethnicity now is considered part of the character of the market, even as the aesthetics of the market and proposals for adjacent development, as described, perpetuate, a myth of bluecollar, Italian Boston. “There are a lot of people of different cultures here, different languages being spoken, different interactions going on. It's fascinating and fun,"51 wrote a shopper from Los Angeles. This might seem like an odd combination, but it reinforces the fact that Haymarket, to a shopper, is not about history, but about an environment that reflects something about to be lost, something foreign. In addition to the interethnic interaction between vendors and their staff, bridging across ethnic and linguistic lines occurs at Haymarket between shoppers and vendors, and between the shoppers themselves. The fish vendors, who are primarily Spanish speaking, have a Vietnamese sign above their stall; Hispanic shoppers buy their limes and cilantro from Asian vendors. And white shoppers feel that they’re “not in Boston anymore, but in a night market in Asia… Beware of your belongings, as pickpocketing can easily occur in a packed street."52 In this comment, of course, lies the counterargument to this analysis: social networks need to build reciprocity and trust between their members in order to produce positive societal benefits, and it is not clear that reciprocity and trust does indeed exist between the shoppers and vendors, or even between all shoppers themselves, at Haymarket. This shopper is not the only one who associates the “foreign-ness” of the market with the danger of crime, though it is 50 Further research into the process by which new successive immigrant groups have been able to enter the market would be extremely valuable: was this shift from Italian to new immigrants smooth, or was it contested? When and how did the markets in the Blackstone Block become Halal, and how was that received by the preexisting vendors? To explain why there is not (or, does not appear to be) more tension between the long-time vendors, for whom family legacy is important, and the newcomers would increase the credibility of my analysis. 51 Los Angeles, CA shopper, 2009. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. 52 Cerritos, CA resident. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars.
not clear from their comments whether these fears come from an actual experience of crime. Furthermore, over 20% of the Yelp reviewers indicate that they have found vendors to be rude. It may be that this is because these reviewers failed to “follow the rules,” which in-group shoppers identify as a way to avoid rudeness, but it is also the case that a problematic side effect of in-groups is that they produce out-groups. While some Haymarket defenders consider the rudeness to be part of the charm of the market (which I will explore further in the next section), I myself have overheard vendors using racial slurs, and shoppers expressing impatience and mistrust of non-English speaking vendors. Indeed almost ¼ of Yelp shoppers expressed some belief that the vendors were out to cheat them by giving them rotten fruit or overcharging for their purchases because they were not allowed to test the produce in advance.53 Furthermore, it is not enough to assume that mere contact between diverse shoppers and vendors at the market is enough to preserve reciprocity and trust, even in the absence of negative feelings. Putnam (2006) suggests that interactions between different groups in environments of cultural change and immigration would instead produce a “hunkering” effect, driving individuals into atomized, self-contained existences. The archetypal pushy, impatient Haymarket shopper certainly could be so because of a desire to hunker in this diverse, noisy environment. As one reviewer warns, “If you are a wimpy type of person, you may get trampled on. There are some serous shoppers here and some aggressive salespeople."54 However, my own experiences having conversations with vendors and other shoppers, and the positive 53
A Haymarket vendor actually wrote an articulate response to this concern on Yelp, explaining that because of the high traffic at the market, if they were to let everyone touch all of the produce, they would have nothing that looked good remaining. Whether this is an accurate concern or not I cannot say; supermarkets during high traffic hours don’t put any restrictions on touching, but their produce is usually sold slightly underripe. 54 Cambridge resident, 2010. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars.
experiences of the shoppers who learn to interact with the vendors based on the rules, indicates that hunkering is not always the rule in Haymarket. I spent about half an hour on my first site visit chatting with a middle-aged African-American woman who works in the IRS building that flanks the market site. Not only did she describe her shopping habits to me -- $20 in cash, no more, plan ahead – she also lovingly shared her recipe for Banana Pudding that was the focus of her shopping trip that week, which she planned to prepare for her office’s Black History Month celebration. She prepares dishes for all of the cultural holidays, she explains, and was pleased to share her thoughts on food, the market, marriage, and much more as we loitered at the outside of the market walkway, pressed up against the brick buildings under the electrical outlets at Hanover and Blackstone. Stephanie wasn’t hunkering, that’s for sure – and through our conversation about food and the market we were able to bridge our numerous social divides Another component of the social meaning of Haymarket is the process of social shopping that happens at the market. I have already described shoppers for whom visiting the market was a weekly occurrence with their families as a child; I observed numerous such families shopping today as well. One Saturday I waited in line at the flower stall behind a man who was buying potted tulips with his wife and young daughter. The women wandered away as the father finished up his transaction; at the end, the vendor gave the man two more roses, one for his wife and each of the daughters. Often, several women shop together, pushing handcarts and strollers, carrying bags and babies on their hips. Roommates and couples walk through the market with a shopping list, discussing what they need for an upcoming dinner party; indeed, the ripeness of the vegetables and the benefits of buying in bulk encourage many shoppers to
share their food with others, as the Yelp reviews indicate. Though I can’t suggest that people shop in groups at Haymarket but not elsewhere, or that people don’t shop alone at Haymarket, my observations and conversations indicate that visiting Haymarket is a different kind of shared experience than going to the supermarket, even if that’s only because it’s more difficult. Learning and navigating the rules and processes of the market become a key for connection, between strangers and familiar faces.
Culture and Conflict “Oh, and occasionally a fight will break out. This is more entertaining than paying for a movie, folks."55 But, as I have said, with the feeling of belonging and shared identity that comes from the heritage and social networks of the market, comes a desire for exclusion and competition, or “realistic conflict.” But rather than between the diverse members of the Haymarket milieu, in my research I found this most strongly between the Haymarket in-group and the citizens who advocate the establishment of the Boston Public Market. The tension between these two interest groups became apparent in my economic discussion about competition, public funding, and the territory of Blackstone Street outside of Parcel 7, in Chapter 3. While for vendors, this contestation is manifested in economic terms, citing concerns about public funding and resisting what they see as anti-competitive plans, for shoppers, resistance feels cultural. A number of Yelp reviewers use combative language in their defense of Haymarket, against what they perceive to be elitist naysayers who favor local, organic, expensive produce – the advocacy shoppers. "For all of you who are looking for a place to get puny, organic, 55
Gloucester, MA reviewer, 2007. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. 85
overpriced fruit from people with dreadlocks, don't go to Haymarket,”56 one writes. "It is not a farmers market, never claimed to be. Go out to the suburbs,"57 barks another. "If you've never travelled internationally and only go to snobby organic farmers markets.... you will not like this market,”58 proclaims a third. “Screw the sterility ho-humness of your local Stop N Shop or the pretentious yuppies shopping at Whole Foods. This is Boston.”59 Woven into this aggressive stance, the repeated invocation of words like “pretentious” “snobby” “overpriced” and “yuppie,” is the blue-collar symbolic identity that I previously described, as exemplified by the claim “This is Boston.” Pejorative language describes what these shoppers perceive to be the attributes and habits of advocacy shopper, the foundational idea being that Haymarket is not a farmer’s market, and that those who would prefer it so are therefore not authentic Bostonians. These shoppers gleefully identify with the conflict and cacophony that characterizes the market. Crowded and touristy, smells like fermenting tomatoes and bad fish, most of the produce is crappy, and yet the Haymarket still gets three enthusiastic stars from me because I love buying fruit off a guy in a pit-stained beater who just told me to go fuck my mother.60
Advocacy shoppers also take up the “this is not a farmer’s market” claim, instead with disappointment. They articulate a desire to express personal values and economic advocacy, and love of high-quality food, with their shopping. While the Haymarket advocates see the conflict in terms of identity, for these shoppers it is framed in terms of values. “While offering a wide selection at near unbeatable prices, Haymarket is a bit of a let down for me and the like minded [emphasis added]. Many of the vendors may live in and around the Boston Metro area,
Cambridge shopper, 2009. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. Boston shopper, 2009. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. 58 Missouri shopper, 2007. Rated the market 5 out of 5 stars. 59 Jamaica Plain, Boston shopper, 2010. Rated the market 4 out of 5 stars. 60 Oakland, CA shopper, 2008. Rated the market 3 out of 5 stars. 57
however they do not support local producers.”61 Another reviewer articulated his dissatisfaction with the products at Haymarket this way: "I really wanted to like the Haymarket…but look, this is no place to buy ingredients you plan to treat with respect in your kitchen."62 Another shopper, whose comment might validate the perception of the Haymarket supporters that advocacy shoppers are not “real” Bostonians, complains that “the whole place is dirty, stinky and really, why would you want to buy fish that are barely iced on a 95 degree day? I guess I've been too spoiled by the countless other high quality farmer's markets around the state and the country, especially the always amazing Pike Place in Seattle. Nothing can hold a candle to it.”63 One limitation of this Yelp review data – though in informal conversation I have encountered the same arguments – is that there is no indication of the reviewer’s length of residence in Boston, not to mention their socio-economic and educational status, as mentioned previously. In other words, are advocacy shoppers, who disparage the non-local vegetables sold at the market, their questionable pesticide levels, and their “disrespectful” quality, overwhelmingly non-Bostonians, as the Haymarket boosters would argue? If so, their beliefs would indicate that they either do not understand or do not identify with the symbolic meaning of the Haymarket practices they dislike. Alternatively, perhaps the Haymarket boosters themselves are new transplants, and their fervent devotion to the market as it exists comes from a need to assert their own authenticity, in the way that Zukin and Brown-Saracino describe their hipsters and social preservationists. Or, the conflict could actually reflect the 61
Boston resident, 2010. Rated market 3 out of 5 stars. Boston resident, 2010. Rated market 1 out of 5 stars. 63 Cambridge shopper, 2006. Rated the market 1 out of 5 stars. Important to note that these comments about smell and sanitation were written prior to the installation of the compactors in 2009, which significantly mitigated these problems. 62
social dynamics that it appears to on the surface: Haymarket “diehards” represent a dying, saltof-the-earth Boston constituency that is battling to maintain its control of this important cultural tradition, with a carefully built in-group mentality based on the “rules” of Haymarket and the social networks of vendors and shoppers, while wealthy Bostonians, suburbanites, and urban transplants advocate for a Public Market that reflects trends in eating and elite values about environmental, economic, and social goals. Further study to examine which of these dynamics is actually occurring would be extremely valuable. But we can still ask questions about what the impact of this values conflict might be on the future of the Haymarket district. The conflict over the public space outside Parcel 7 has already arisen as an expression of this political opposition. It’s useful to consider the social psychology concept of Realistic Conflict Theory as we weigh potential outcomes. This theory articulates that the presence of an oppositional group and competition between these groups will reinforce in-group identity cohesion; in this case, human “friction” is a source not of sociability or creativity, but of conflict (Sherif et al. 1961). Sherif’s experimental research suggests that only reorienting the two separate groups towards a shared task, a “superordinate goal,” can overcome the conflict. Will the Public Market’s presence relieve the tension, as advocacy shoppers will have an outlet for their need for fresh, local produce year-round? Or will it produce good will by exposing members of each group to each other? Or, according to conflict theory, will the presence of these two distinct interest groups in the same space produce increased tension between the individuals in the different groups? Perhaps the idea of a “market district” could be understood not as a move towards branding and comprehensive
“place” planning, then, but as a way to transform conflict and opposition by introducing a superordinate goal. However, I like to think that Haymarket’s capacity for producing a kind of constructive conflict, which occurs in a defined setting based on a set of expectations and norms, is important. I myself witnessed a fight between vendors, and several verbal altercations between vendors and shoppers; the subtext of the in-group critiques of the Advocate, pro-Public Market shoppers seems to hold implicit every criticism that Sharon Zukin levels at hipsters and gentrifiers seeking to colonize hip downtowns. It seems to me that Haymarket, in addition for being an outlet for supply chain inefficiencies in the produce market, is also an outlet for inefficiencies in Boston’s political system. It’s a place where people speak their mind, for better or worse. It exemplifies the agonistic public space that Fraser and Crawford believe democracy requires. CHAPTER FIVE RECOMMENDATIONS Not until it is too late will people regret that the special character of Haymarket -- “flavor…” has gone (Snyder) As I observed in my introduction, it has become a mainstay of any investigation of Haymarket to lament its decline in the face of change and redevelopment. Bostonians’ constant sense of this impending loss perhaps reflects the temporary nature of the market, that in spite of its centuries-old traditions and numerous statutory protections, it feels fleeting, fragile. Still, the moment of a historic infrastructural transformation and redevelopment at Parcels 7 and 9 does call for some consideration of the future of Haymarket, in addition to its past and present. In this section, I would like to offer a set of guiding principles and ways of thinking about the
proposals that are currently on the table (fig.13), for the use of all stakeholders. I attempt to articulate where I am ambivalent about a particular recommendation, and for what reason, and what further research – both at Haymarket and in the context of other cases – would be useful. In addition, I hope to suggest other possibilities for supporting Haymarket, beyond the current considerations. That said, based on my findings and my review of the literature, at the heart of my recommendations is that the city resist the impulse to “plan” for a themed district. Doing so would eliminate the interstitial nature of the market and its site, and I am not convinced that it would be as economically beneficial, for this reason, as current proposals suggest. This is the condition that creates the opportunities for social interaction, economic flexibility and ethnic diversity, political contestation and identity making that is essential to the role of the market. Peter Gori told me that the hope was to “modernize the market, without sanitizing it.” While this comment certainly comes from a belief that Haymarket should be able to remain as true to its original intentions as possible, I argue the reverse: the market can and should be sanitized, to provide an improved environment for shoppers and vendors, and increased safety and governmental transparency. But it should not be modernized. It should remain inscrutable, hard to navigate, affordable for new vendors, packed with people who have to learn how to coexist, and self-made by the reciprocity of shoppers and vendors.
Responses to current proposals (Parcels 7 and 9) Design and aesthetics
Aesthetic and spatial decisions must support the analysis that I have performed, and not attempt to visually simulate what is imagined to be the historic “look” of the market. Thus, flexibility and reversibility should be emphasized, giving vendors the opportunity to evolve their site construction and layout over time in order to suit their business needs and shopper demand. Such an approach might conflict with the aesthetic desires of shoppers; this conflict is part of the nature of the market, as I have described, as market vendors are running a business and some shoppers are seeking an “experience.” However, given that the experience valued by shoppers is of “authenticity” and not historicity, pro-vendor design policies should be considered beneficial to all. Still other design moves are intended specifically to retain aesthetic and cultural characteristics of the market. Haymarket is characterized by its jumble of uses and people, and by the flexible urban form that “pops up” on Friday morning ready for business. But planning goals emphasizing “contextuality” overstate the need for harmonious development on the site; guidelines seem to unquestioningly demand continuity in form, massing and material with the surrounding neighborhoods, and permeability across the Greenway edge. Improvements to the ground plane, to sanitation, to amenities are recommended; all stakeholders are in favor of them, and they are included in all proposals for Parcels 7 and 9. In addition, I encourage a reconsidering of the impulse to bridge the Haymarket site across the Greenway to create continuity with the North End. This edge reinforces the unique conditions of the market, and in some ways has until now shielded Haymarket from becoming part of the tourist destination that is the North End district. Similarly, connecting the site with Faneuil Hall through public realm projects or architectural continuity will also pose a
threat to the integrity of the local resource that Haymarket has come to be. I therefore discourage branding signage and “district flags.” Similarly, in order to preserve the inscrutability of Haymarket’s “rules,” no signage about navigation or procedure should be erected, save what is necessary for safety. The Public Market will be characterized by a plethora of educational signage, as suits its mission; the Haymarket site should not. Interior areas that include space for Haymarket or other vendors at Parcel 9 should be constructed with ground floor ceilings high enough for vendors to define their space as they do outside, with whatever materials they wish. Vendors wish for warmth, restrooms, dependable electricity; they need not be given cookie-cutter stalls.
Uses Like design, program on the site should emphasize the eclectic, unpredictable nature of the behaviors of the market as it exists today. It should not be fixed in time, and it should not take literally the surface features of Haymarket; instead, it should emphasize uses that support the function and meaning of the market: a year-round activity in public space for Boston residents, a source of low barrier-to-entry jobs for successive waves of new immigrants to Boston, a flexible physical and economic space, a symbolic and practical connection working class heritage, for residents and not for tourists. While I expect that the city’s economic imperative to redevelop the district will necessitate the incursion of tourist resources into the district, I don’t believe that this must dictate all of the uses of the site. Uses on Parcel 9 and other future development sites should be multiplex, layered, and subject to change: what if the vogue for local food passes in 10 years, and we are left to reimagine the district? Haymarket’s
hallmark is its ability to respond to changing conditions: a new site in 1952, new immigrants in the 1980s and beyond, new regulations and expectations by the city. Other uses nearby should be the same. I therefore prefer uses at Parcel 9 that are not food driven. In this I differ from Project for Public Spaces, which saw the “placemaking” value of creating a cohesive food destination. I don’t deny the attractiveness of the one-stop-shop frutti di mare argument, I just find it too simple. “I’ve told the city,” says Otto Gallotto, “the market is saturated with fruits and vegetables.” He describes the markets of Milan, where people sell underwear on the street! There used to be a candy vendor, he said, but it was based at a candy store in the North End, which closed. There was a nut vendor once, who came up from the Tri State area, but it became too costly for him. These kinds of products, he explains, “won’t create garbage, and won’t rot,” which is important for the bottom line. Historic photos of the market show vendors selling all kinds of goods. While I am guarded about recommending this approach to the market wholesale – would you prevent souvenir sellers from setting up booths? If not, how would you prevent Haymarket from becoming an extension of Faneuil Hall? – I agree with the instinct that drives his recommendation. Haymarket is not a fruit market, just as the regulations say: it’s a hawker market. The district becomes too one-dimensional if it limits itself to food, even if the market for local produce, from tourists and residents, is, for now, insatiable.
Managing the market Governance solutions must be sought to the challenges that the vendors currently face: increasingly high overhead costs which restrict flexibility and deter potential new vendors, and the associated restrictions on transferring permitting. The Haymarket Pushcart Association
already manages the umbrella insurance policy for the vendors, collects of electricity charges from vendors, and speaks on behalf of the network of vendors in negotiations over development and government intervention. Members participate in decision making, and governance is well managed; it is well positioned to take over more management roles from the city. HPA could, for example, oversee permitting of stalls, paying blanket annual fees for trash and health licenses that could then be flexibly allocated to vendors as needed, and providing annual rolls to the city for transparency purposes. This would resemble the process by which the Boston Public Market and city Farmers’ Markets operate, with the central, guiding nonprofit acting as a “steward,” able to seek external funding for supporting operations and to subsidize the stalls, which pay into one central fund.64 If the HPA managed stall sites and fees were charged not on a per-stall but on an hours per year basis, for example, vendors would have the ability to determine their hours more strategically, and might minimize the impacts of increased overhead. Such a transformation would have the effect, as Richard Sennett describes, of transforming “urban-based large-scale bureaucracy…so that better communal lives are possible” (Sennett 1970, p. xvi). However, Otto Gallotto told me that the HPA “want[s] the city to be involved” when I asked him of the HPA might be able or willing to take on management functions for the market. He explained: “if, God forbid, something should happen to the trash compactors, for example, we wouldn’t have the money to fix it.” It is a fine line, just as the theoretical literature outlines, between needing the support of the city if the market is going to maintain a
A problem with this idea is that the market could become beholden to funders like any other nonprofit; in the current arrangement, the vendors are free to focus on the management of their businesses, and not the longevity of their umbrella organization.
sanitized, regulated state for the sake of downtown development, and preserving the affordability of the market. Beyond the structure of permit issuance, I have one specific recommendation: Haymarket vendors should be the sole presence Blackstone Street. I have shown that this public space is a site of conflict between the different stakeholders of the market; it is also the key locus for the interstitial, flexible practices characterized by the market. Minimizing conflict, expanding opportunities for diverse vending practices, and retaining flexibility for the market should be advantageous for all stakeholders. It is in the city’s interest to continue the diversity of vendors and the opportunities for competition because that is what sustains the power of the market.
Opportunities for the future of Haymarket I have explained why I think that current proposals and plans for Haymarket are insufficient to truly support its almost universally valued qualities and functions, though they are motivated by a respect for the market’s tradition and meaning that I support. So, it must follow that there are other possibilities for supporting or expanding the role of Haymarket in the future, so that it continues to resist being frozen in time.
Hawking in Boston First, we might consider whether Haymarket must exist at Haymarket, or only at Haymarket, at all. In 1952, the market was relocated in order to accommodate the Central Artery construction, after having been relocated previously from Quincy Market; it didn’t die or
become less significant, it just changed its context. Given that the market is interstitial, might there be other opportunities for inserting flexible vending practices, whether for food or otherwise, throughout the city of Boston? We know that the state and the city exercised their authority to establish the managed informality at Haymarket; it therefore follows that there is no reason why the government could not do so again. Furthermore, the whole reason why Haymarket was established at its current location, the presence of the wholesale food sellers at nearby Quincy Market, hasn’t been present for several decades. Should overhead at Haymarket, economic pressures for development, or a negative competitive environment for hawkers develop, perhaps some vendors, more vendors, or even all vendors could be relocated to another strategic Boston location. Such an approach would continue to support or expand the economic functions that Haymarket serves for the city. It would furthermore create additional environments of flexibility, experimentation, and resiliency throughout this highly formalized city. In a new space less laden by the interests of history, tradition, and memory, perhaps these positive benefits of informality would be even more fully realized. A weekly craft and food market in several contiguous parking lots in the South End, for example (the SoWa market), is one of the few food truck “rallying points” in the city, is extremely well-attended, and serves to activate otherwise dead space one day per week. Farmer’s markets across the city are an enormous success; though they themselves are tightly managed, informal vendors and street occupancy food stalls tend to cluster around the markets’ perimeters, indicating a need for and value of opportunities to agglomerate formal and informal interstitial vending uses elsewhere.
Such a “new Haymarket” would need to follow some very specific criteria in order to be successful. First, the most important thing about Haymarket is the fact that it maintains access to an increasingly high-end part of the city for shoppers of all socio-economic statuses. Though its strategic center-city location is part of the reason that it always seems under siege, I think it’s an important equity issue that further informal vending in the city not simply be relocated to somewhere cheaper, ceding the downtown to tourists and high end shoppers. Of course, you could also make the reverse argument: it could advance equity to bring the shoppers of all levels of wealth who visit Haymarket into other neighborhoods as well, a kind of commercial deconcentration of poverty. This latter approach strikes very close to the Brooklyn model, though; Zukin’s accounts abound with a kind of hipster informality that introduces new capital to underutilized properties in low-income neighborhoods, and many urban critics are beginning to resist this trend as counterproductive and socially problematic.65 Therefore, I do think that strategic downtown or mixed-income locations are essential. Additionally, I outlined the importance of the fact that Haymarket exists at a central node of pedestrian, vehicular, and public transit, inserted into a diverse existing fabric with foot traffic independent of the market. Moreover, the site would need to occupy a liminal space that allows for flows of multiple types of stakeholders and the experience of spacelessness that Haymarket produces. A large enough site to produce an agglomeration of vendors that will generate competition is also essential. I suggest these criteria as a way to provoke a conversation that follows from my analysis of Haymarket; while part of its value for the city comes from the very duration of its existence 65
Kelly Chan, “Pop-Up Populism: How the Temporary Architecture Craze is Changing Our Relationship to the Built Environment”. ArtInfo, May 8 2012. Online: < http://artinfo.com/news/story/802841/pop-up-populismhow-the-temporary-architecture-craze-is-changing-our-relationship-to-the-built-environment>
on the same site over time, Haymarket’s enduring success also is clearly an indication of the capacity and need for Boston to support informal, competitive vending practices in its public spaces. Another way to respond to this finding would be to introduce city-wide hawking regulations, creating an environment of decentralized vending throughout the urban fabric. This would be less of a “New Haymarket” than a new way of understanding what our public spaces are for; current experiences with food trucks in the city, however, suggest that such a decentralized, difficult-to-manage system is extremely challenging to execute in the city’s regulatory environment (Lempel and DiLisio). Perhaps a more important consideration is: would people even go to a Haymarket that’s not, well, at Haymarket? My findings clearly indicate the value of the place’s tradition for shoppers; would that be lost if shoppers and vendors didn’t have a sense of the long timescale of their practices, and a sense of “we do this every week?” The answer, I think, is yes; moreover, enacting any kind of relocation would be an unfortunate reliving of the traumatic urban renewal experience that began this saga in the first place. Haymarket isn’t going anywhere. Similarly, I’m mistrustful of the intent to “create” new public spaces or public spaces uses, for the concerns contained in my literature review. Therefore new informal vending opportunities would need to be considered a supplement or entirely new addition to Haymarket’s practices, with opportunities for an entirely citizen and vendor-driven use mix and site design, introduced by government policy to establish a space and parameters for vending, and no more. The Haymarket Pushcart Association presents a model for how vendors could be organized to promote a shared agenda and minimize the need for government intervention on such a site in the future.
Interpreting Haymarket Another way that I think the role of Haymarket in the city can be deepened based on my findings is through interpretation, not preservation, of its practices and stories. A sensitive interpretive treatment might serve to allay the constant anxiety about Haymarket’s transformation, freeing up the market to grow and change unencumbered by the impulse to freeze it in time. Therefore I think that the Public Museum proposed for Parcel 9 is a missed opportunity. The current proposal for the museum, one of a series of iterations since 2008, features an iconic steel-and-glass building with a food market on the first floor and a series of themed exhibitions based Boston’s traditions of sport, innovation, immigration, urban development and politics.66 In a nod to the expectations for Parcel 9 and to support the Market District plan, the museum proposal also includes an observation window on its top floor, so that visitors can see “history in action” at Haymarket on market days. Several concerns have been raised about the museum over time: its ambitious scope and cost, its potential to introduce countless tour and school buses to a site already choked with large vehicles and foot traffic, its insufficient attention to where its historical materials come from and whether the area even needs another historical institution. But what I have wondered is: given that this is conceived as a museum with no permanent collection, and the fact that the area is perhaps saturated with permanent historic destinations, why should the Boston Museum utilize the same old approach to presenting and interpreting the past? Why have an “observation deck” when you could actually locate the museum in the Haymarket environment, with the same opportunities to 66
experiment, learn by doing, and respond to conditions the vendors have? Here is an opportunity for truly contextual, interactive, experimental public history practice, available to more than schoolchildren and tourists, one that stakeholders should embrace. A Boston Museum in Haymarket could be constructed as a stall at the Blackstone and Hanover Streets intersection, bridging the territory between the highly didactic interior of the Boston Public Market space and the complete chaos of Haymarket, and providing a neutral ground in this contested public space for dialogue and reflection. At this location it would be directly in the greatest flow of foot traffic, capturing tourists, commuters, shoppers, and vendors alike. Given advances in mobile technology and interactive gaming, this stall could serve as an anchor for an active experience of listening, asking, interpreting and reacting to Haymarket and its historic surrounds. Inside the booth could be installations that interpret the themes already proposed for the museum; it would then initiate a walking tour of the market, led by physical docents or mobile technological tools. The tourism industry has already passionately embraced podcasts and mobile apps for creating an enhanced interpretive experience of public spaces and historic sites; museums too have begun to hire mobile game designers67 to move beyond the one-way experience of the audio tour into a more immersive, interactive experience of exploring a museum collection. “Augmented reality” will be increasingly a part of our urban experiences as mobile technology becomes more ubiquitous; even two-way text messaging can create opportunities for visitors to learn about and respond to the environment according to their own interests.
For example, SCVNGR or Green Door Labs. This kind of mobile, deterritorialized museum is the subject of much discussion and excitement in the field, as represented by many articles on the American Association of Museums’s “Center for the Future of Museums” blog: http://futureofmuseums.org/thinking/blog.cfm/.
Considering these emerging technologies and sensibilities in the worlds of tourism, museums, and location-based augmented reality, The Boston Museum has the expertise and capital to create something truly groundbreaking in the area of history interpretation, in a way that is truly embedded in its context and actively serving to bring the site forward into the future. However, there’s no reason to think that they are the only organization capable of developing such an addition to the market; the Freedom Trail foundation or even a newly established collaborative could take advantage of this opportunity in a very strategic way. Taking advantage of the interstitial and conditions at the market, a museum stall could be inserted first in the pre-development condition, using this time to test approaches. It might then establish a regular presence in the Market District in the future. The Boston Museum could embrace this kind of incremental approach even if they remain committed to the large museum proposal, using the stall-museum as a temporary solution, an experimental platform or an outreach tool.68 Even non-technological approaches to this kind of museum-without-walls would be valuable; while walking tours require booking in advance and are primarily the domain of tourists, an inserted museum “stall” has the advantage of being able to offer engagement at different durations, with little cost to participants. Imagine a stall with a sign on its exterior that includes a single provocation, quote, or fact about the neighborhood or the city at large, for the financial worker to consider as he walks by in the morning. Imagine a dynamic reciprocity between the sounds and stories of Haymarket – which are plentiful, as my project has shown – and the production of interpretation for the city. If Americans are constantly 68
This “satellite museum” approach is gaining traction in cities, the BMW Guggenheim Lab being the most prominent example (http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/).
making our own history, and the vendors have to remake their stalls every week, then even a museum is too static for the process of presenting and interpreting the stories of this place. This is the perfect condition for microhistories, as Snyder, the historians at North End Stories, and Otto Gallotto would tell you. And we can’t forget that, as the home of the country’s first historic trail, directly adjacent to this site, Boston only stands to benefit from another groundbreaking approach to historic tourism. Another opportunity to enhance a dynamic process of interpretation and informality at the Haymarket site is the fact that the Rose Kennedy Greenway is in the middle of developing a plan for public art programming for the next five years. Permanent components of the Greenway design, for example, includes a timeline of the area from the time of its European settlement; this is difficult to read and not very engaging or thought provoking given its context, though lovely. Beyond the possibility to enhance historic interpretation of Haymarket and the broader district, however, in public art we have the perfect opportunity to introduce more confusion and diversity into the Haymarket context without risking regulatory or economic consequences. Participatory installations, temporary sculptures or performances that highlight the area’s boundary conditions, implicit rules, sensory confusion – there are numerous ways you could imagine public art interacting beneficially with the placemaking goals of the “market district” without sacrificing the hectic confusion that exists there today. I don’t deny that particularly the museum proposal might be a tough sell; flagship museums are valued as drivers of economic development and urban prestige by cities and real estate interests alike (Hamnett and Shoval 2003), and the Boston Museum’s board is stacked with real estate interests. On the other side of public interests, public art and public history are
often considered emblematic of gentrification impulses because of their ability to make palatable and accessible formerly opaque places and practices. However, it is these kinds of innovative interactions between the goals of the stakeholders and the existing context that will maintain Haymarket’s power as a driver of public value and continue Boston’s impact as an innovator in the ways of interpreting and reimagining urban history. Indoor local food markets are popping up everywhere today, as evidenced by the numerous case studies that Project for Public Spaces was able to provide; Boston set the standard in 1950 with the Freedom Trail and in 1972 with Quincy Market. A sensitive, innovative approach to Haymarket by nonprofits and private developers could do as much for Boston as these other projects did decades ago.
CHAPTER SIX LEARNING FROM HAYMARKET I think what’s most important to learn from this study is its method: that considering the function and meaning of a public space or a historic site will yield a different idea about treatment and interpretation than would studying its appearance or historic narrative. Similarly, I have explored the ways that informality can function in a formal city in the developed world. At the heart of the matter are two questions: how do you honor history without codifying a single story and freezing our places in time? And, how do you support informality in a formal city, where city management is expected by residents, visitors, and city officials? I’ve suggested that the answer to this is in a careful, context-specific understanding of how a place, or a practice, works in a city, not just how it looks, and using this understanding to establish frameworks of support and interpretation, rather than explication and replication.
This is a kind of anti-planning planning; it involves citizen organizations, cultural flows, and nonprofit actors as well as city officials, where the role of a “planner” is to build understanding and create supportive policies for experimentation, reinvention, and equal access to economic opportunity, rather than to codify or establish a specific picture of the past or trajectory for the future in a way that “picks winners.” Informality is a coping mechanism by which citizens whose needs are not met in the marketplace or political system are able to develop their own solutions to inadequacy. Haymarket, though not entirely informal, resolves economic needs of the city (solving market failure of surplus, providing low barrier entry for immigrants, providing affordable fresh vegetables) and presents an important opportunity for the city to have an absorbent space that, because of its legislative protection, can persist as a flexible urban fabric. Expanding our idea of what “Haymarket” is, from “an historic fruit and vegetable market in a food district” to “a place where new Bostonians and existing markets have always produce their own solutions to economic needs in a low-overhead environment” changes the meaning and function of Haymarket in the future. Cities can learn from Haymarket’s persistence through history the value and importance of such a space and should consider ways that such opportunities can be facilitated, spatially and politically. This analysis prompts me to offer a linguistic counterpoint to the idea of authenticity, one that is present in the discussion of the Haymarket just as is the siren song of “heritage,” and which I think might perhaps frame the approach I advocate for. And that is the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia, commonly defined, refers to a sort of saccharine reminiscence of bygone days,
of rosy childhood summers and carefree pasts. But etymology here is instructive. Though Mirriam-Webster’s secondary definition is indeed “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition,” its primary definition is simply “the state of being homesick.” The word comes from the Greek and Latin for “home” and “to return.”69 This may seem like splitting hairs, but I think this is important for the practical task at hand; the impulse for preserving, restoring the past can come both from excessive sentiment, or from marketing and branding impulses, or in fact it can come from a very real place of personal connection, from the desire to make or save a home. Those who are in a place to make a decision about the design and nature of preservation projects, then, must endeavor to discern what components of a project are essential for nostalgia, for the feeling of a return home. If a city cares that its residents feel comfortable and “at home,” they will take heed of the importance of nostalgia. Haymarket is a place where “Boston” is at home, not just a place that it visits. If it isn’t carefully treated, this role of the market will fade, even if the fruits and vegetables are as bright as ever.
69 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nostalgia. Accessed March 19, 2012.
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