Public markets add greatly to the vitality of cities and provide essential goods and jobs for many people. They are an integreal part of our urban cultural heritage across all the continents. Yet a number of these markets are now at risk warns a new study.
The Sustainable Cities Collective warns of a number of threats to traditional markets. These include physical neglect, war, poor management, competition from international chain stores, and real estate development pressures.
Aleppo’s Souk Al-Madina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a prime example. It is the largest covered markets in the world. Located in one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities, the souk is 13 kilometers long, with portions of it dating to the 14th century. However, it has been badly damaged in the on-going war in Syria. Parts still operate but it remains very vulnerable to further damage.
The Mercado Del Norte in Monterrey, Mexico, dating from the 1930s boasts an Art Deco exterior, but has been badly neglected. the neighbourhood has also deteriorated and the market hall today, it is mostly vacant.
In Hanoi, the government has a plan to convert 132 wet markets into trading centers by 2020. This plan favours large supermarkets over traditional markets. One of those threatened but reprieved in 2014 was the popular Chau Long Market. There is now a campaign to save traditional markets like Chau Long.
There’s a Declaration you can sign up to calling for support and promotion for public markets.