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Secrets of the City: Philly

Revealing all the untold stories of Philly. From all the best local spots to our love for a good parade, check out the stories that make the City of Brotherly Love unique!

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The Historic 9th Street Market

Did you know that America’s oldest continuously-operating outdoor market is right here in Philadelphia? That’s right: you won’t want to miss the historic 9th Street Market in South Philly on your next trip to the City of Brotherly love!

You may already have been introduced to the market on the silver screen, where made a few cameo appearances in a certain fictional Philly boxer’s famous training montages. Regardless of whether you’ve seen the market in the movies (in some of its rockier times), you’ll want to check out the real thing when you’re in town.

The “Italian Market,” as it’s referred to by locals, came about organically. The market’s origins date to the mid-to-late 1880s when Antonio Palumbo, an Italian immigrant, opened a boarding house for other Italians who’d just arrived in the country. Other businesses began to pop-up to serve the growing immigrant community. There were curbside food stalls on the east side of 9th Street where merchants sold fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Butcher shops began to offer the highest quality cuts of meat, and cheese shops, bakeries and restaurants filled the west side of 9th Street. Essentially, the 9th Street Market was Philly’s original Italian-American grocery store!

a group of people walking down a street in front of a store

Still home to many generations-old Italian family businesses, the market now includes many new Caribbean, Asian, South- and Central-America family businesses eager to share their traditions. Can’t decide between a sausage and pepper sandwich, a freshly made barbacoa taco, delicious jerk chicken, or some piping hot pho? Get them all! You will not be disappointed.

Treat yourself to tasty options from nearly 200 individual vendors, specialty shops and restaurants. Located in the Bella Vista and Passyunk Square neighborhoods of Philly, the 9th Street Market is just a short walk south of Center City. Sprawling for more than 20 city blocks across 8th and 9th Streets and running ​from Fitzwater Street at the north to Wharton Street at the south, the market is a perfect place to stroll, shop, and snack for the better part of the day. The market also is conveniently ​located between two public parks that make for fabulous picnic locales!

Each May, the market plays host to Philadelphia’s largest block party, ​the “S. 9th St. Italian Market Festival.” It’s a Philly wonder to behold. There’s food, music, and even greased pole-climbing competitions. Any time of year, though, the 9th St. Market is a perfect destination for your taste buds. We recommend hitting the market early in the day for the best selection. You can go solo to explore the deliciousness on your own, or take a guided tour led by a local expert. Either way, be sure to wear your walking shoes and bring a hearty appetite! Plan your trip with the help of the market’s Visitor Center website.

Written by Jenna, a local expert guide for Philly Crawling. A recent escapee from the corporate world, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with family. She’s a pet lover, self-proclaimed beer geek, travel enthusiast, and aspiring foodie. Join Jenna for history and beer on Philly Crawling’s Liberty Pub Crawl.

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