Findlay Market is the only surviving municipal market house of the nine public markets operating in Cincinnati in the 19th and early 20th century. The market house is built on land donated to the City of Cincinnati by the estate of General James Findlay (1770 - 1835) and Jane Irwin Findlay (1769 - 1851). Findlay Market is Ohio's oldest surviving municipal market house. It was designed under the direction of City Civil Engineer Alfred West Gilbert (1816-1900) using a durable but unconventional cast and wrought iron frame, a construction technology that had been little used in the United States. Findlay Market was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The structure was among the first markets in the United States to use iron frame construction technology and is one of very few that have survived.
Built originally as an open-sided pavilion, the market was erected in 1852 but disputes with contractors and difficulties correcting problems with the new construction methods delayed its opening until 1855. The center masonry tower was added in 1902. Soon after, public health concerns about the market, which was open to the elements and increasing urban pollution, prompted enclosure of the market house and the addition of plumbing and refrigeration. Merchants previously had used cool storage in deep cellars beneath nearby breweries.
The market house tower bell, rung at the start of each market day, was brought from Cincinnati's Pearl Street Market when that facility was torn down in 1934. Findlay Market was renovated in 1973-74 as part of the federal Model Cities program. It was renovated again and expanded in 2002 and 2003.
Like other public markets in Midwestern cities, Cincinnati's Findlay Market offers a taste of the city. Its interior is lined with food vendors, selling everything from butcher meat by the pound to cookies to the namesake chili. However, Findlay Market differs in that there is also a significant outdoor presence through the warmer part of the year. Outside, there are street performers, live music and vendors more focused on crafts and other specialty items.
In terms of other public markets in the country, Findlay is definitely in the top 5. It's smaller than some, but also more functional (i.e. - focuses on produce instead of nicknacks) than many. The architecture of the surrounding area is also superb.
Be aware that the neighborhood surrounding Findlay Market is not the greatest, so be prepared to pay to park if you go on a weekend in order to avoid getting too far away. Findlay Market itself though is completely safe.
I live in the Philadelphia area, so I am accustomed to the historic Reading Terminal Market there. The Findlay Market is a lot like the Terminal Market on a smaller (and pleasantly CLEANER) scale. There are plenty of stands to purchase fresh meats and fish; I was especially excited to visit the spice vendor - if there's a spice you need they have it. I picked up an excellent Jamaican Jerk blend.
The historic Findlay Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market. The locals come here for the fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, but as a visitor you can come here to enjoy the great food (a diverse, international selection) and atmosphere. Parking at reasonable rates is available adjacent to the market as well as on the streets.
As we were riding our bikes downtown, we stopped near Washington Park and then realizing that we were in the Over the Rhine neighborhood that we were going to visit later in the morning, we decided to keep going and visit Findlay Market which is in that neighborhood. There's an indoor and outdoor section to the market, we walked through the outdoor section which was largely food and a few people selling jewelry and candles and since we had our bikes, I just took a quick peek inside the market. Had I been hungry, I would have loved to stop at the Taste of Belgium which was making up yummy looking waffles and crepes.
This is a photo of one of the buildings near the Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine.... There is a bit of a European spirit here, I like the windowboxes with flowers.