The Oldest Market

Jada London, Za’kyrah McDonald, and Rashad Spears

Smells of oysters, alligator, and beignets in the air as you walk down the aisle of the French Market with smiling faces passing by. As you walk you might notice a very stylish type of shirt, a beautifully decorative necklace with your name or initials on it, or maybe even a colorful painting. You walk a little further and hear jazz and see a view of the bridge that you have never seen before.

We asked one female vendor (who chose to remain anonymous) if she liked New Orleans culture to which she told us that she ”very much [did and that] New Orleans will always be the city of fun of good times.” In nowhere is this more apparent than in the French Market. The French Market is similar to an outdoor mall where you can come get very New Orleans style food, knickknacks, and other things.

The French Market originated as a Native American trade post. It is the oldest historical market in the United States. It has been located in the same place for over 220 years. The market is largely a tradition that has constantly changed and been restructured with the city. With changing control of the city of New Orleans, the Market has changed as well. It once was a small market, but now spans 6 blocks with many new vendors constantly coming and going. Like the city, the market is constantly change, always ebbing and flowing like the river that borders its side.

As we walked through the French Market we saw bead sellers, a snowball stand, and other vendors. One that caught our eye was short dark haired lady selling scented candles, soap, and other scented products. After we started talking she told us she “started recently working at the French Market.” She seemed to be enjoying her job and getting along with other vendors very well. When we started talking to her about her time in the city, she immediately responded saying, “I love the New Orleans culture, I love living in such a vibrant city with some many interesting people. I also love seeing all the faces of my “““customers, seeing what other people are selling.” She told us that it was a very different experience because she is not even from New Orleans, which is why she loves doing what she does because of her affliction for the city.

Through all the adversity New Orleans has faced, one thing that has stood in the test of time is the French Market. With changing times and new vendors constantly coming and going from all walks of life, The French Market has truly shaped New Orleans since its inception, this small trading post has grown to become a large market that has changed New Orleans culture and is most certainly the unknown epicenter of the city.

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