Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Findlay Market


Findlay Market is the oldest continuously operated public market in Ohio, and is located just a few blocks from downtown Cincinnati in the Over-the-Rhine area. The Market was built in 1852, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The Over-the-Rhine district is considered an "intact" 19th century urban neighborhood, and is also on the National Register. Its name comes from the German immigrants who were the original inhabitants and builders of the neighborhood. At that time, the neighborhood was separated from the downtown area by the Miami and Erie canal, and residents called the canal "the Rhine" after the famous Rhine river of their homeland. The neighborhood, which was north of the canal, became Over-the-Rhine, or "über'm Rhein" in German.

My maternal grandparents were 100% German, and they lived in Over-the-Rhine in the early part of the 20th century. My grandmother shopped at Findlay Market, which she simply called "market."

I thought it would be fun to take a trip down to Findlay Market myself for my A-Z of Cincinnati, and walk in my grandmother's shoes for a while.

Today's Findlay Market features approximately two dozen indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, cheese, ethnic foods, and flowers. From April through November, the Market also holds an outdoor farmers market where area farmers sell their locally grown produce. In addition, outdoor vendors sell locally produced jellies, baked goods, soaps, and other items. The outdoor market also hosts street performers and numerous special events throughout the year.

When I was younger, the Market was not in the best condition and, quite frankly, the neighborhood had deteriorated to such an extent that it was not a place anyone wanted to be. But the neighborhood has been revitalized in recent years, and the Market itself was renovated and expanded in 2002 and 2003.

My mom went with me for my trip, and we were both surprised at how packed the Market was even early on a Saturday morning. It wasn't easy to find a place to park and, once inside, we were greeted with all the sights and sounds of a bustling marketplace.


The most tempting vendor for me was a waffle stand called A Taste of Belgium.


I found the story behind the waffle stand interesting, as the owner, Jean-François Flechet, grew up in Belgium and came to Cincinnati while working for a market research company. He wanted to re-create the waffles of his home here, and opened a small temporary stand at Findlay Market in 2007. The popularity of the waffles spread quickly through word of mouth, and now Flechet operates a Belgian Bistro in addition to his permanent Taste of Belgium stand, and his fantastic waffles have been featured in both local and regional media.

I love waffles and breakfast foods of all kinds, so my tongue was hanging out at the thought of these waffles. But there were so many sweets everywhere we looked at the Market, I could have easily gained 100 pounds in one morning if I had tried them all.

My impression of Findlay Market is that it has come full circle. Once the go-to place for produce and meat for the German residents of Over-the-Rhine, it and other urban markets fell out of favor when city residents began moving to the suburbs and shopping in suburban supermarkets as the 20th century progressed. But Findlay Market has come back in style again now as many people choose to live downtown again, and the Market is a flourishing and vital part of the movement to buy locally-grown and locally-produced food.

It's great to see such a historical place remain as a vibrant and thriving part of the community.

30 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post. I love that you went there to walk in your grandmothers shoes. Thank you for sharing Julie. Beautiful.

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  2. A wonderful F post. The market reminded me of "Quincy's Market" at Boston when I was there last year.
    I love markets and can browse forever in one.

    Yvonne.

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  3. What a neat idea to be able to walk in your grandmother's shoes!

    And now I want waffles. Sigh. :)

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  4. Hi Julie .. sounds a fascinating place to live near, and visit as often as possible. Interesting history ..

    Fun to know your maternal grandparents were German .. that story would be an interesting few posts ...

    Yes - I too would like a waffle - sadly not an option! Cheers Hilary

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  5. @Rebecca, thanks!

    @Yvonne, oh, I remember visiting Quincy Market when I went to Boston and loved it too, I had completely forgotten about that. I totally agree, thanks!

    @Madeline, LOL, I know, I was craving waffles again just while writing the post LOL.

    @Hilary, LOL, yeah, my grandmother was a real German character. My grandfather died before I was born so I did not know him, but I loved visiting my grandmother and her sisters when I was little. Thanks!

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  6. Those small community markets are really cool. Wish we had one nearby.

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  7. That's awesome they've resstored it. I have a vague memory of going there once when I was a kid.

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  8. I wish there was a market like this in my area. We have summer farmer's markets, but that's it. Last summer I visited a market in Columbus and adored it!

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  9. How nice to have such a place near you. There is no such place near us at all, even in the bigger cities. What a nice story as well. How did you know so much about the Bagle shop owenr? Did you just start talking to her and tell her you wanted to blog about it? I have been wanting to talk to people about there lives but not sure how to approach them.

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  10. A beautiful post. It warms my heart that you were able to walk with your mother in her mother's shoes. What a special day. Wish I could tuck into one of those waffles! (BTW, I'm really enjoying your posts and learning a lot.)

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  11. Looks like a cool place to shop. Ah, Over-the-Rhine. Spent a couple wild nights in that part of your fair city. Then there was the night I saw the band Over-the-Rhine, at some bar that doubled as a laundromat.

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  12. I LOVE historic grocery stores. To the point that my husband accuses me of having a fetish about it! Thanks so much for sharing this great post!!

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  13. That is so cool! Thanks for the (continuing) education, and great pics, too!

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  14. okay, next time hubby dearest works in ohio, i am calling on you to be my tour guide!

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  15. Findlay market sounds like a cool place to visit. I love the pictures you've shared here.
    Great A-Z post!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  16. I love local markets like this, but there aren't many in my area, at least none that are year round. You're lucky to not only have one, but one that is so rich with your family heritage and memories. :)

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  17. I love local markets like this, but there aren't many in my area, at least none that are year round. You're lucky to not only have one, but one that is so rich with your family heritage and memories. :)

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  18. I'll have to head that way one Saturday and check it out myself. It's looks and sounds like a great place!

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  19. Yum, Julie, my first thought was how wonderful it must smell with all the luscious buys there :) love places like that!

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  20. What a fabulous "F" post, Julie. Seems we share the same ancestral gene pool (well close anyway, Austrian for me) and this walkabout in your grandmother's foot steps was wonderful - I enjoyed my vicarious participation by way of your delightful photos and captivating writing.

    I am really enjoying your A to Z posts.

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

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  21. @Alex, we're lucky to have this one here, it's fun to visit.

    @Tonja, yeah, I think I went when I was a kid but it wasn't nice at all then. They're really done a great job with it.

    @Janel, oh, I lived in Columbus back in the 90s but I don't remember any markets, I wonder if that is new.

    @LynnMarie, oh, I had read an article about the waffle place before I visited, that's how I knew. The owner wasn't even working when I was there. I know what you mean, I'm terrible about approaching people and talking because I worry about getting on their nerves.

    @Kittie, oh, thank you, I'm so glad!

    @Tim, LOL, I remember the bar/laundromat but I'm totally drawing a blank on the name.

    @Johanna, oh, that's funny! LOL you shouldn't ever come here then, you'd probably spend forever in this place.

    @Guilie, thank you, I'm so glad you liked it.

    @Jaimee, no problem, I will be your guide LOL. Although I should warn you that I am notorious for getting lost even in my own backyard LOL.

    @Nutschell, it really is, thanks!

    @Emily, yeah, it was fun for me to think of my grandmother shopping there. She was so much fun to visit when I was little.

    @ejw, yeah, I think you would like it, it seems more popular all the time.

    @Tracy, oh, the smells were amazing. I actually wish it has been a little less crowded as I would have loved to spend a little more time wandering, but it was so crowded by the time we left it was hard to navigate LOL.

    @Jenny, thank you!! I am looking forward to catching up on your story over the weekend. :)

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  22. This makes me REALLY want a waffle.

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  23. I've never been to a market like that, but I'd love to! I don't think we have anything like that around here.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  24. I love going to places like this!
    Happy Easter :)

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  25. Oh wow, I wish we had a market like that here in Texas. This was very interesting to read.

    I've left you a blog award over at:
    http://lylawrites.blogspot.com/2012/04/blog-awards-galore-sequel.html

    :)

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  26. Ooh, waffles! The market looks like a lot of fun. I'm glad it's enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

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  27. I would love to go to the Findlay Market. Isn't there a city in Ohio names Findlay?

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  28. I love markets, they're such cool environments.

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  29. Glad you were able to "walk in your grandmother's shoes!" What a wonderful market! Julie

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  30. @Brinda, LOL, they are so yummy. I could eat nothing but breakfast food and be happy.

    @Shannon, it's a fun place, definitely different than the supermarkets I usually go to.

    @Carol, thanks, Happy Easter to you as well!

    @Lyla, oh, thank you, that's so nice of you. I will be over to get it, thanks!!

    @Jenny, me too, I think it's a great thing. LOL about the waffles, my mouth waters every time I write the word.

    @Susan, oh, yeah, Findlay is north of Cincinnati, straight up I-75. I would guess it is named for the same family, but I don't know for sure.

    @Gwen, agreed!

    @Julie, it really was fun, thanks!

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Thank you for your comments!