Project for Public Spaces’ list of demolished markets includes Savannah’s City Market

Not your usual list: The 10 Greatest US Public Markets That Met the Wrecking Ball posted today by the Project for Public Spaces.

Savannah’s old City Market, which was demolished in 1954, tops the list. The other locations are Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Cleveland, San Diego, Portland, Kansas City, San Antonio, and Brooklyn.

The demolition of Savannah’s 19th century market and its replacement by a hideous parking garage helped lead to the creation of the Historic Savannah Foundation.

I have a number of disjointed observations to make here, so I’m going to (un)structure this post in a series of numbered points.

1. The current recreational use of Ellis Square is a departure from its history. From the early days of the colony, there was a market and a public building in the square.

2. During the Ellis Square project — the big effort to build the underground garage — we frequently heard people talk about “restoring” the square. But the square didn’t need restoring; it was always there. Savannah has a couple of other squares — Elbert and Liberty — that need to be restored, but the outlines of Ellis were never disrupted.

3. Doesn’t it seem odd that Savannah would make the PPS list given that all of those other cities are much larger? For years, I’ve been noting the outsized role that Savannah plays in the national consciousness, and here’s more evidence.

4. The current City Market is not in the same place as the original City Market.

5. For more on the preservation movement in Savannah, check out this great mini-doc by Michael Jordan. Jump to about the 3 minute mark for quick details about the demolition of the old City Market:

6. There’s a great postcard of the old City Market with the PPS post, and there were other postcards too. But my favorite image of City Market is a painting by Augusta Oelschig.

7. The Kroger on Gwinnnett Street, which was built in the mid-1990s, references the old City Market in its architecture. Really.

8. I wonder what the first colonists would have thought about Ellis Square today:


9. Even though it doesn’t have a building, the Forsyth Farmers Market is probably the closest thing Savannah has had to the old City Market in almost 60 years.