The French Market in New Orleans, 1906

July 13, 2021

This image, colorized by Sanna Dullaway, shows what the historic French Market looked like early in 1900. The corner today is Place de France. In the forefront of the picture, we can see the fruits and vegetables for sale, and, if you look closely, you can distinguish the prices. The covered wagon indicates that it is for a ship chandler and grocer. And one of the buildings across from the market is Garic’s Bakery. The French Market has a history that stretches back before New Orleans was founded in 1718, when the current French Market was a Native American trading post next to the Mississippi. 

Colorized by Sanna Dullaway

The Spanish built the first Market building on the corner of Chartres and Dumaine Streets. They moved it to a site on Decatur Street in 1790, but hurricanes destroyed the buildings on the site. During the first part of the 19th Century, the French Market was along one of the busiest ports in the world. It was a bustling place where people of all sorts sold their wares, and it was noteworthy for its filth.

Beginnings As A Meat Market

Source: (Library of Congress).

The current French Market had its start as the “Meat Market,” since it was the only place in the French Quarter where meat could be butchered and sold (this was related to laws concerning slaughter, as they were trying to reduce the offal produced by the slaughtering process). Once that changed and people could sell meat elsewhere, the name changed to the French Market. The building that was the Meat Market built in 1813 survived and is the location of the Café Du Monde today, and dates to 1862. In 1822, they began to construct a building that was designed for use as a Vegetable Market. Construction on that building ended in 1830, and the Vegetable Market was the main produce stand for the French Quarter from the 1880s until the 1930s. Around 1833, the Red Stores were built near the Vegetable Market. After this, a market similar to a bazaar appeared between the Meat and Vegetable Markets, and the city constructed a Bazaar Market to house it. Behind the Meat Market, fishermen and oystermen would sell seafood in the Seafood Market after bringing their products from the lake, carting them from the Carondelet Canal.