Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Center Market Ladies' Waiting Room and Ladies' Cafe

Washington Post, November 23, 1909

Center Market Ladies' Waiting Room and Ladies' Cafe

Location: 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, USA

Opened: The Center Market itself opened in 1871; when the ladies waiting room and ladies cafe opened is not clear

Closed: The Center Market closed in 1931

I have never seen a ladies' waiting room or a ladies' cafe associated with a large urban marketplace like the Center Market before. Guess there's a first for everything. 

According to America on the Move, the Center Market covered two full city blocks in the heart of Washington's business district (where the National Archives is today). 
Center Market, B Street facade (about 1900)

Center Market opened early in the morning and usually closed by mid-afternoon, except on Saturday, when it was open all day. Different classes of people visited the market from all parts of the city. The best (and most expensive) produce and meats sold early. As the day went on, prices and quality lessened.

Center Market interior (about 1900)

The approximately 700 dealers who rented space on the ground floor of the Center Market sold both local produce and foods from around the region, the nation, and the world. With the growth of railroads and commercial farming, more and more people were able to buy oranges, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables that were previously unavailable or too expensive.

A fascinating and more detailed history of the Center Market is at the Streets of Washington blog. Unfortunately, nothing is said there about the ladies' waiting room or the ladies' cafe. Not that this is unusual. Too frequently, the womyn's spaces associated with the history of a particular location and/or a larger institution are overlooked or omitted. 

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