If you ask a Capitol Hill native what they are doing on any given weekend, their plans will most likely include a visit to the Eastern Market. Since its establishment in 1873, Eastern Market has been a cherished hub and a vibrant gathering place for locals and visitors, offering fresh produce, artisanal goods, handcrafted gifts, antiques, seasonal decor, delicious food and a rich tapestry of events and performances.
Eastern Market Mainstreet sign at 7th and C ST SE.
The last standing of what were originally 4 similar central markets scattered throughout DC, the red brick Italianate structure is a great example of famous Architect Adolf Cluss’ style. Cluss left his stamp on DC as one of the most prolific and prominent architects in the area at the time, and The Eastern Market is one of 8 of Cluss’ buildings still remaining in DC. Originally from Germany, Cluss was known as the “red architect;” a reference to both his Marxist ties as well as the red brick materials he favored. Turns out that red brick was the right choice! Not only did it survive 150 years of wear and tear, but even after a devastating fire swept through the market in 2006 causing significant damage to the historic South Hall, the outer walls remained standing.
Led by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, the community rallied together to support the market's recovery, and especially the well-being of the vendors who are the heartbeat of the Market and a testament to its enduring significance. The fire became a pivotal moment in Eastern Market's history, showcasing the resilience and determination of all those involved, and despite the setback, the renovated and improved Market re-opened to great fanfare in 2009.
Today, the interior of the Market is open weekdays (except for Mondays), selling everything from fancy cheese and dairy products to baked goods, meats, vegetables, dumplings, poultry, pasta, seafood, flowers, groceries and grab-and-go meals. Many of the purveyors are members of family-run businesses that have been in the Market for several generations. For folks with roots on the Hill, the Eastern Market is like Cheers, a place where “everybody knows your name.”
Fresh fruit, veggies, meats, fish, flowers inside the Eastern Market.
On weekends, the Market takes on a festival atmosphere! The 200 and 300 blocks of 7th Street SE are closed to traffic, becoming pedestrian-friendly, and the surrounding area houses cheerful vendor stalls selling everything from handmade clothing and jewelry to furniture, art, and gifts. It’s a wonderful place to metro, bike, or stroll to, to grab breakfast or lunch on the street (crepes, burritos, shrimp po-boys, vegetarian fare…) or in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, pick up some fresh seasonal produce from local farms and growers from Maryland, VA, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, run into neighbors and friends for a quick catch-up, and proudly show off to visitors from far and wide.
Beautiful autumn weekend at the Market!
Stop by and visit the pride of our neighborhood - at 150 years old and still thriving, it’s where history is made every day!
Eastern Market vendor Mike Bowers from Bowers Fancy Dairy Products with Eastern Market Architect Adolf Cluss celebrity impersonator and Capitol Hill resident, Seth Shapiro.