The Old Washington Market on Bainbridge Street was nothing more than a jumbled together mix of wooden shacks. This is evident through the Hexamer map below, if a structure was present, there would have been a pink coloring surrounded by yellow however there is only a yellow color; indicating that this market had no more permanent structure to its design. Thus this market is a most ephemeral piece of the urban landscape.

 

Below are two black and white images from the Philadelphia Parks Commission Annual Report of 1916, showing the clearing of the market to make way for a small park green in 1916. This is a classic example of how these markets were viewed by the city: as filthy rat infested tumors dotted across the city, not only taking away from the serenity of the neighborhood but introducing a rather unsanitary aspect to the city. In the Philadelphia Parks Report of 1916, on the opposite page of these two pictures it poses the question of what is more healthy, the squalor of a market or the greenery of a small park. 1916 was a time when society became very cautious about health concerns; just two years after the market was torn down, was also the same year of the Spanish flu pandemic that prompted sweeping changes in the way society viewed health concerns in large urban areas.

 

Today, the park has been turned into a parking lot, with merely a few trees dotted up and down the street. Nothing remains of the market with the exception of a small water basin that was most likely used as a watering trough for houses. In the 1920s a granite urn was erected on top of the trough with the words: “Drink gentile free” engraved on it.

 

The neighborhood is a center of Bohemian culture in Philadelphia. In the 1950s, a highway was planned to run along Bainbridge and act as a southern version of the Vine Street Expressway. With news of this, the residents fled the neighborhood. When the plans for the expressway were scratched, the neighborhood stood abandoned and thus with rather low rents; a prefect environment for the artistic community to move in- this could account for South Street being the center of Bohemian Philadelphia.