Markets, Public

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MARKETS, PUBLIC. When the New World was being settled, every European town of any importance had its public market, and so in laying out their towns it was not unusual that the early settlers provided for them. There was a marketplace in Jamestown as early as 1617 and one in New Amsterdam as early as 1647. As in Europe, forestalling, regrating, and engrossing were generally prohibited. The sale of meats and vegetables was permitted only in the public market. Sale of these articles at any other place was illegal. The system was quite general in America in the colonial and early national periods. By the time of the Civil War, the public market system was well on its way to disintegration. It was inconvenient for the householder to travel some distance to make daily purchases. As a result, meat shops were established closer to the householder. The public market buildings were then either abandoned or converted into predominantly wholesale markets. Although the public market no longer exists, echoes of it remain in the form of pedestrian malls, farmers' markets, and massive retail attractions, such as Boston's redeveloped Faneuil Hall, often conceived as part of a larger urban renewal project and built with taxpayer support.


Bailyn, Bernard. The New England Merchants in the SeventeenthCentury. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955.

Fred M.Jones/a. r.

See alsoColonial Commerce ; Malls, Shopping ; Merchant Adventurers .

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Markets, Public

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