The red brick market building directly before you is the oldest publicly owned, continually operated market in the United States, representing a Lancaster tradition since 1730. This building, which was constructed in 1889 by John Berger, is Romanesque in style and features two towers. The structure is well designed for light, ventilation, and cleaning, and has a straight forward arrangement of stalls and aisles. On July 12, 1972 the U.S. Department of the Interior declared the Central Market a National Shrine.
For many years curb markets flourished due to an overflow of merchants and the high rent prices in the market house, produce was sold from the rear of market wagons backed up to the curb along King, Duke, Vine, and Prince Sts., and little boys could earn a few pennies toting heavy baskets in their express wagons. Curb markets terminated on January 1, 1927 because increased auto traffic threatened their safety.
Today, one can witness an ongoing march of people clutching market baskets, alighting from suburban buses and swarming to Central Market as tourists and natives alike gather on Tuesday and Friday to purchase the fresh quality produce raised by the renowned Lancaster County farmers, some of the enticing specialities include corn, celery, apple butter, shoofly pie, schmierkase cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and cider.
William Henry, gunsmith in charge of purchase and repair of all arms for the Continental Army and Delegate to the Continental Congress resided in a brick home near the present market.