Public Markets as Community Development Tools

Alfonso Morales

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Morales, A. (1). Public Markets as Community Development Tools. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 28(4), 426–440.

Community Development , Economic Development , Municipal Markets , Street Vendors

Public markets were once essential parts of the cityscape and they are becoming so again. Markets serve several purposes, social, political, and economic, and so planners interested in multipurpose tools for development will be interested in public markets. Markets can help achieve a variety of goals including place-making, employment, and entrepreneurship. This article focuses on markets as tools of business incubation. Archival data and literature shows how important markets once were to cities. Ethnographically collected data from Chicago's Maxwell Street market illustrates the individual and structural factors that account for businesses created at the market. Rural and urban markets are emerging or being rehabilitated all over the country — this research helps planners understand the history of markets, their multi-disciplinary nature, and the circumstances of people creating businesses at markets.

Main finding
Street markets are multipurpose tools for social, economic, and community development. The historical data presented in the article shows how Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market became a tool of municipal policy in the early twentieth century to address social problems such as unemployment, enhance food security, and incorporate new immigrants as part of a larger plan for economic development. Economic dislocation, desire for economic mobility, self-determination, and entrepreneurial spirit are some reasons that drive vending in street markets. These structural or individual reasons lend themselves to different planning strategies - land use, transportation, economic development, and community-oriented planning - as exemplified by the city of Chicago and Maxwell Street Market.

Description of method used in the article

Of practical use

Organising categories

Economic Transactions Gathering/Socializing
Field Observations
Physical types
Geographic locations