Story: Ashley Ward
Multimedia: Devin Hamberger
The smooth sound of jazz and blues filled the air as residents and tourists made their way through Lexington Market in downtown Baltimore.
Every Friday and Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. people can come to the market and enjoy the sounds of a live band while grabbing a snack or lunch from the surrounding vendors.
The Lexington Market dates to the late 1700’s when Gen. John Eager Howard donated the land for the market. At that time, farmers, trades peoples and fisherman would buy and sell livestock, fresh fish and chicken. The market has since expanded and now serves to cater the everyday needs of people across Baltimore. Fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, deli, electronics, clothes and accessories are among just a few of the items available.
The Marketing and Promotions manager of Lexington Market and the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, Darlene Hudson, said that markets have been a resource for generations, and some of her best memories as a child come from the market.
“It was the life support because you didn’t have supermarkets and it played that role,” she said. “You [still] have supermarkets but not as many. You can come buy your fresh produce, meats and seafood”.
Hudson said that Lexington Market is considered to be “The Hub” when it comes to choosing a market because it’s located right in the middle of the city.
While Lexington market sits alone in the heart of downtown Baltimore, five other markets: Cross Street Market, Broadway Market, Northeast Market, Hollins Market and Avenue Market are in the surrounding areas.
“The other five public markets I can fit inside Lexington market,” said Hudson. “They are truly neighborhood markets and Lexington market is the hub, it’s the market for all neighborhoods.”
These five markets cater specifically to their individual neighborhoods and are managed by The Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.
There are 135 vendors that sit inside Lexington market, while the other markets only have about 12 to 19 vendors. Vendors are offered the lowest lease, and in return they charge consumers less for most products.
Hudson said that of all the vendors at Lexington Market, Faidley’s Seafood is one of the most popular.
“I use the best quality ingredients,” Nancy Devine, owner of Faidley’s Seafood said. “I use local crab meat and the best quality. They are made and individually formed and designed so everybody gets wonderful consistent crab cakes.”
Faidley’s seafood has been around since 1886 and their clientele continues to expand. When visiting Faidley’s around lunchtime, you are sure to witness a long line of customers patiently waiting for their famous crab cake.
“This is the best crab cake in Maryland, “said Charles Nicholas a local Faidley’s customer. “It’s lump crabmeat, a straight filler and it’s very tasty.”
Devine said Faidley’s has customers from outside the city, and even the state that visit just to get a taste of the Chesapeake Bay seafood.
It’s clear that distance is not a barrier when it comes to the taste of a Faidley’s crab cake. Michael Jordan, a loyal Faidley’s customer traveled five hours from Connecticut for a crab cake.
“The lump crab is to die for and I traveled five hours just to get some”, Jordan said. “I’m actually going to pay and have some sent to my house. You can only get lump crab in Maryland, anything else is imitation.”
Along with the local customers, Lexington Market sees celebrity faces from time to time. Hudson said that celebrity visitors such as Rachael Ray, John Travolta and most recently Adam Zimmerman from “Bizarre Foods” have stopped by for a Faidley’s crab cake.
Lexington market has many events and outreach programs that Hudson says she offers for the general public. Some events include: Market Health Fair, Celebrity Crab Derby, a full scale fashion show, public school holiday concerts, and various theme weeks.
Other markets can’t host as many events as Lexington Market because they are smaller.
Hudson said that some Baltimore neighborhoods don’t have supermarkets, making Lexington market essential. Lexington Market is in walking distance of many city neighborhoods and all modes of transportation will bring you straight there.
No matter how you look at it, Lexington market will always be the hub of Baltimore.