West Side Market


In 1840, the west side of Cleveland belonged to the separate municipality of Ohio City. Two prominent businessmen and former mayors of Ohio City donated land at Lorain Avenue and Pearl Street (later West 25th Street) to the city for the express purpose of establishing an open-air market. The Pearl Market - located across the street from the current site of the West Side Market - went on to serve shoppers for nearly 75 years.

Cleveland annexed Ohio City in the 1850s, and both areas grew quickly in the following decades. Eventually, the Pearl Market outgrew the wood-framed building which had housed it since 1868. In 1902, the city purchased land across the street from Pearl Market and later commissioned the Cleveland firm of Hubbell & Benes to design a new market. The result was a grand, yellow-brick building with room for 100 indoor stalls and 85 outdoor produce stalls. The new market opened in 1912 and has delighted Clevelanders ever since.

Video Show

West Side Market

"I Didn't Have To Feed Them"

Audio Show

An Old World Market

Tony Pinzone, a current meat vendor at the west side market, describes why the West Side Market was so popular from the very beginning.

The Calabrese Fruit Stand

Rick Calabrese describes how his family got started at the West Side Market in the early 20th century.

A Young Worker

Rick Calabrese, current fruit vendor, describes how he grew up fast working at the market from a young age.

The Pizza Bagel

Terry Frick, current owner of "Frickaccio's," describes this favorite West Side Market novelty.

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Pearl Street Market

The wooden Pearl Street Market was built at the northwest corner of Pearl (W. 25th) Street and Lorain Avenue in 1868. Its cramped and shabby state led city leaders to lobby for the construction of a new market around the turn of the 20th-century. The site of the Pearl Street Market is now Market Square Park.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Postcard, ca. 1912

The West Side Market's clock tower is nearly 140 feet tall. A maintenance man climbed 180 steps to its top every week to wind the clock until the 1950s, when electronic controls were installed.

The tower formerly held a large water reservoir used to periodically flush out the stalls. It also served as a safety mechanism in case of fire. The metal tank was removed and sold for scrap during World War II.

Image courtesy of the J. Mark Souther Postcard Collection

Empty Market, 1912

The floor of the West Side Market is shown in 1912 before vendors had occupied their new stalls. Numbers were chosen out of a hat to decide who got which stall, as some spots were seen as being more advantageous than others.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Fish Stalls, ca. 1920s

Since the West Side Market opened in 1912, its fish stalls have been located in a separate room in the market's northeast corner.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Dairy Stall, 1945

Marie Guenther serves a customer at her dairy stall in 1945.

How does this scene appear different from the experience that one has while shopping at a supermarket,

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Stumpf's, 1922

Joseph Stumpf (center) was a pharmacist in his native Germany before coming to Cleveland in the 1890s and working in the city's knitting mills. He later found work with a sausage maker and eventually opened his own sausage stand at the West Side Market. Joseph's son (who remembered taking naps below the counter while working at the stand as a boy) continued the business and passed it on to his own son, who currently operates the Kitchen Maid Meats stand at the market.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Crowd of Shoppers, 1946

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

View From Above, 1975

The market's vaulted ceiling, covered in terracotta tiles, is 44 feet tall at its highest point. The grandiosity of the market building was no accident. Its architects were said to be influenced by the Roman basilicas -- large public halls built during the Roman Empire that were used for transacting legal and business matters.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Cite this Page

Michael Rotman, “West Side Market,” Cleveland Historical, accessed March 6, 2015, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​67.​
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