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Stunning Historical Photos of Fulton Fish Market from the 1900s to 1960s

The Fulton market once stood just a few blocks from Wall Street in lower Manhattan, near the Brooklyn Bridge. New York City donated that land to the market in 1807, opening as a general market for fish and other goods. In 1822 the fish merchants began occupying spots at a new Fulton Fish Market building located on South Street between Fulton and Beekman Streets. Before 1850, Brooklyn housekeepers would purchase fish directly from the market. However, wholesale customers gradually came to dominate the market, and in 1924 nearly 25% of all seafood sold in the country was sold there.

The Fulton Fish Market primarily consisted of two open-air structures, the “Tin Building” and the “New Building,” rented by different dealers from the Port Authority of New York, with closed offices behind each booth. Mayor La Guardia opened the New Building in 1939 after the pilings of the old market building failed in 1936, and the whole building slid into the river.

Economists have long studied Fulton Fish Market as an example of the imperfect competition despite being highly centralized with many well-informed buyers and sellers. Graddy found that third-degree price discrimination existed in the Fulton market in 1992. On average, Asian customers, who tend to be more price elastic, were quoted lower prices than white buyers, by 6.3 cents. According to Graddy, Asian and white buyers serve different markets. In Chinatown, where the restaurant sector was highly competitive, Asian buyers were more likely to resell fish whole to retail and fry shops in poorer neighborhoods. Since they resold to less elastic customers, they had less chance of passing on the price to their customers.

#1 A sign at the Fulton fish market advertising a fish dealers’ banquet and hall, 1942

#2 Workmen from the sanitary department flushing the street in front of the Fulton fish market late in the evening. Artist Gordon Parks, 1930s

#3 Crates of seafood waiting for delivery at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#4 An early morning scene at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#5 Gloucester fishermen resting on their boat at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#6 Gloucester fishermen resting on their boat at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#7 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers and wholesalers, 1920s

#8 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers and wholesalers, 1920s

#9 Fulton fish market street scene. Artist Gordon Parks, 1920s

#11 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats to the docks where it is bought, stored in barrels and packed in ice for delivery to wholesalers, 1930s

#12 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats, 1930s

#15 York, New York. A Fulton fish market stevedore, 1940s

#16 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats to the docks, 1930s

#17 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats to the docks where it is bought, 1930s

#18 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats, 1930s

#20 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats, 1920s

#21 Stevedores at the Fulton fish market unloading fish from boats caught off, 1920s

#22 Stevedores at the Fulton fish market unloading fish from boats caught off, 1920s

#23 Dock stevedores at the Fulton fish market sending up baskets of fish from the holds of the boats to the docks, 1920s

#24 Dock stevedore at the Fulton fish market holding giant lobster claws. Artist Gordon Parks, 1930s

#25 Dock worker at the Fulton fish market loading fish that have been caught in Gloucester, 1930s

Dock Worker At The Fulton Fish Market Loading Fish That Have Been Caught In Gloucester, 1930S

The fish are cleaned, washed in brine water and iced before being shipped to the retailer. Artist Gordon Parks.

#28 A large lobster brought in by the New England fishing boat [Fulton Fish Market], 1938

#29 Baskets of seafood at the Fulton fish market, 1938

#30 Shipping fish by horse-drawn vehicle from Fulton fish market, 1937

#32 Box of fish at the Fulton fish market waiting to be iced, 1930s

#35 A hoister unloading fish at the Fulton fish market, 1934

#36 A hoister unloading fish at Fulton fish market, 1934

#38 Fisherman holding a large catch at the Fulton fish market, 1934

#40 Loading boxes of fish to be shipped to hotels and restaurants at the Fulton fish market, 1934

#41 Watering fish at the Fulton fish market with brine water, 1934

#42 Watering fish at the Fulton fish market with brine water, 1934

#43 Many of the Fulton Fish Market men are in the Armed Forces, 1934

#44 Icing the hold of a ship at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#45 Icing the hold of a ship at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#46 New England fisherman aboard their ship at Fulton fish market, 1930s

#47 Policeman Directing Traffic at Fulton Fish Market, 1927

Policeman Directing Traffic At Fulton Fish Market, 1927

Streets in the market are continually covered with puddles of water, caused by the melting ice, therefore it is necessary to wear rubber boots to avoid spattering stains as the trucks rumble by.

#48 People Working at Fulton Fish Market, 1924

People Working At Fulton Fish Market, 1924

Streets in the market, are continually covered with puddles of water, caused by the melting Los, therefore it is necessary to wear rubbler boots to avoid spattering stains as trucks rumble by.

#49 Fish being weighed at the Fulton Fish Market, before being shipped to the retail markets, 1920s

#50 Fulton Street Fish Market, showing some of the fishing boats, and beyond, the spires of Manhattan, 1920s

#51 Fishers unload barrels of seafood onto the wharf to be sold at the Fulton Fish Market, 1910s

#53 Seagulls feeding on scraps at the old Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, New York City, 1978.

#54 Pedestrians at the Fulton Street Fish Market look as if they need a bridge after heavy wind whipped rains hit the metropolitan area, 1930s

#55 New York City, Fulton fish market, shop T. W. Mitchell Co, 1930s

#56 Fulton fish market, shop T. W. Mitchell Co., men closing wooden boxes, 1934

#57 Man Preparing Fish at the Market, 1940s

Man Preparing Fish At The Market, 1940S

Making Bid for "Stardom". Usually cast in a supporting role, Phil Fish has entered the race for star billing, what with the average retail price of all cuts of choice grade beef reaching a record $1.30 per pound last month. Phil's star category bid may be affected by Pres. Nixon's announcement, clamping a ceiling price on beef, pork, and lamb. Phil's shown here during early-morning makeup and weighin at the Fulton Fish Market in lower Manhattan.

#58 A view of the Fulton Fish Market, 1965 in South Street Seaport, Lower Manhattan, New York City.

#66 Robert F. Kennedy Holding Large Fish, 1960s

Robert F. Kennedy Holding Large Fish, 1960S

Robert Kennedy, the newly elected Senator form New York, visits Fulton Fish Market, early, after attending victory party at Delmonico's. Kennedy thus ended the long day by returning to the place where he began his two month long campaign for the U. S. Senate seat.

#67 Stumping for votes in the Fulton Fish Market, Democratic Sen, 1960s

#68 Stumping for votes in the Fulton Fish Market, 1960s

#69 View of Meyer Litman & Co eggs and poultry section, located at 953 West Fulton Market, 1955

#70 Workers unloading fish at Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1955.

#71 Workers at dock of Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1955.

#72 Fish being unloaded at Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1955.

#73 Men sitting on pier near Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1955.

#74 Workers at Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1955.

#76 Unloading haddock from the John G Murley ship at Fulton Fish Market, New York, US, 30th July 1953.

#77 Workers at shipping piers, including number 16 (right), on South Street near the Fulton Fish Market, New York City, 5th July 1953.

#78 Scenes in Fulton Fish Market, New York City, 1953.

#79 Fulton Fish Market fishmongers at work in the early hours of the morning, New York, 1949.

#80 Fish and other seafood is loaded into trucks at the Fulton Fish Market for delivery to retail stores throughtout the city, 1946

#81 our boys, three with popsicles, stand in front of a nautical supply shop (the Peerless Equipment Company, at 189 South Street) in the Fulton Fish Market, 1946.

#82 View of the Fulton Fish Market wharf with the Manhattan skyline in the background, New York City, 1946.

#83 Man smokes a cigar while standing next to a World War II sign at the Fulton fish market, New York City, 1943

#85 The dock at the Fulton Fish Market where New England fishing boats unload their cargo, May 1943.

#86 Dockers packing and icing fish at the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, 1943

#87 Barrels and Crates of Fish, Fulton Fish Market, New York City, 1943

#88 Dock Stevedore Moving Barrel of Codfish, Fulton Fish Market, New York City, 1943

#89 Fish for sale in barrels at the Fulton Fish Market, New York City, 1943

#90 A group of men in coats and caps eat and drink as they sit at the bar in an establishment frequented by fisherman in the Fulton Fish Market area of downtown Manhattan, 1943

#91 Fishmongers sorting out shrimps in crates at New York’s famous Fulton Fish Market, 23rd December 1941.

#92 New York’s famous Fulton Fish Market was known no scarcity of fish even with the war going on, 1940s

#93 Unloading fish at Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, New York City, 6th June 1940.

#94 Fish delivery at Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, New York City, 1940.

#99 Iced up fishing vessels berthed at Fulton Street fish market, 1940s

#100 Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia speaking at the opening of the Fulton Fish Market, at Bleecker and South Sts, 1940s

#101 Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia speaking at opening of Fulton Fish Market, at Bleecker Street and South Street, 1940s

#102 Midtown Skyscrapers seen through Fluton Fish Market, 1930s

#103 Overview of the Fulton Fish Market on South Street, from where the fish are taken to the nearby wholesalers, New York, 1938.

#106 The Fulton Street Fish Market, New York City, 1935.

#107 View of the East River docks, New York, New York, 1930s. The masts of several docked fishing boats are visible at left.

#108 A view of men working behind stacks of wooden crates and barrels at the Fulton Street Fish Market in downtown Manhattan, New York City, 1920s

A View Of Men Working Behind Stacks Of Wooden Crates And Barrels At The Fulton Street Fish Market In Downtown Manhattan, New York City, 1920S

A can of oysters sits atop one of the crates. Factories line the street behind them, with skyscrapers in the background.

#110 A glimpse of the Fulton Fish Market, located in the Bronx, 1940s

#111 The fish market near Fulton and South Streets, 1930

#112 The fish market near Fulton and South Streets, Lower Manhattan, 1930

#114 en congregate around bushels and sacks of fruits and vegetables at the Fulton Street Market as a workers stack and unload crates from a truck, 1930s.

#115 South Street from Fulton Fish Market, looking southwest, New York City, 1929.

#116 Workers show off a giant 750-pound sturgeon caught off of the coast of Virginia at the Fulton Fish Market, 1925

#117 A view of a group of automobiles and wagons parked in the snow at the Fulton Street Fish Market, in downtown Manhattan, New York City. 1920s

A View Of A Group Of Automobiles And Wagons Parked In The Snow At The Fulton Street Fish Market, In Downtown Manhattan, New York City. 1920S

The Municipal building is visible in the background, right.

#118 Fishmongers at work at the Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan, New York City, 1924

#120 Fisherman holding a fish at the Fulton Fish Market. New York City, 1943.

#121 Interior with Employee Working in Fulton Fish Market, 1940s

Interior With Employee Working In Fulton Fish Market, 1940S

Traffic is heavy at shipping piers such as No. 16 (right), on South Street. To its right is the famed Fulton Fish Market, whose operations clog traffic every weekday morning. The South Street Elevated Highway will separate through traffic from the congestion pictured above. Brooklyn Bridge is in background.

#122 New York City, foggy morning at Fulton fish market, 1930s

#123 City Sanitation Workman Washing Streets at Fulton Fish Market

#124 Dock Stevedores Packing And Icing Fish a the Fulton Fish Market

#125 Push Cart Fruit Vendor at the Fulton Fish Market, 1930s

#126 Dock Stevedores Packing And Icing Fish At The Fulton Fish Market

#127 A “seller” shovelling redfish onto the scales in the Fulton fish market. Artist Gordon Parks.

#128 Ice which is used to store fish on boats that bring their catches into Fulton fish market

#129 Gloucester fishermen resting in their bunks after unloading their catch at the Fulton fish market.

#132 Filling a barrel with codfish at the Fulton fish market

#133 Unloading fish from the hold of a New England fishing boat at the Fulton market.

#134 Fulton fish market dock stevedores unloading and weighing fish in the early morning.

#135 Dock stevedore at the Fulton fish market moving a barrel of codfish. A

#136 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#137 Barrels for loading fish at the Fulton fish market.

#139 The New England fishing boat, the Catherine C, docked at the Fulton fish market.

#141 Packing fish in barrels at the Fulton fish market, 1930s

#142 Fulton fish market dock stevedores unloading and weighing fish in the early morning, 1930s

#143 Fulton fish market dock stevedores unloading and weighing fish in the early morning, 1930s

#144 A scene at the Fulton fish market showing the dock where New England fishing boats unload their cargo.

#145 Fulton fish market dock stevedores unloading and weighing fish in the early morning.

#146 Fulton fish market stevedores unloading and weighing fish in the early morning.

#147 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#148 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#149 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#150 Barrels of fish on the docks at Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#151 New England fishermen unloading fish at the Fulton fish market.

#152 Fulton fish market dock stevedores with lobsters caught in the New England fishing waters.

#153 Icing barrels of fish at the Fulton fish market.

#154 Unloading and packing fish at the Fulton fish market.

#155 New England fishermen unloading fish at Fulton fish market.

#156 Barrels of fish on the docks at the Fulton fish market ready to be shipped to retailers.

#158 Exterior View of the Early Fulton Fish Market, 1953

Exterior View Of The Early Fulton Fish Market, 1953

Traffic is heavy at shipping piers such as No. 16 (right), on South Street. To its right is the famed Fulton Fish Market, whose operations clog traffic every weekday morning. The South Street Elevated Highway will separate through traffic from the congestion pictured above. Brooklyn Bridge is in background.

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Written by Wendy Robert

Brand journalist, Ghostwriter and Proud New Yorker. New York is not a city – it’s a world.

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