1941 rendering of Havemeyer Market. Courtesy of the Municipal Archives of the City of New York Digital Collection.
Date of Construction: 1941-1943
Architect: A. Henry Johnson
Original Owner: New York City, Department of Public Markets.
Type: Retail/Public Indoor Market
Stories: 1(double height)
Structure/ Materials: Steel framed-brick faced- curtain wall construction with concrete floors, gypsum plank roof and 10 skylights.
The Havemeyer Market, built in 1941, is a fragment of New York City’s World War II-era policies to create safe, efficient and convenient markets. The shift from pushcart markets to controlled interior markets is just one part of the complex evolution of the food distribution system in the United States, the complexity of which can be understood via examination of this site’s history.
In the early 20th century the pushcart was the most common way of distributing food, both in and out of Williamsburg. When Mayor La Guardia took office, the Pushcart Markets had to be re-structured. The city population had grown, but the food distribution system had not. This resulted in unsanitary conditions, unscrupulous merchants, and opportunities for corrupt politicians and organized crime. Also, the increase of vehicular traffic highlighted the menace and danger of pushcarts. New York City eventually resolved these issues by completely removing pushcarts. The Department of Markets believed that creating interior markets would reduce the cost of food distribution and in turn make it safer, more accessible and more affordable. In 1943, one such market was constructed in Williamsburg.
The site of the Havemeyer Market was originally the Van Cott family farm. The land was later sold to Holmes Van Master whose son sold off the plots. Following subdivision, the land changed hands many times. By 1868 there were a significant amount of buildings on the site, the majority small scale manufacturing and stables, including one described as a “Pork Packing” business. In 1941, under the ownership of Ray Panel Holding Company, the site was cleared. Following this, the City Department of Markets bought the land, and by February 15, 1943 erected an indoor city market.
The Havemeyer Market was successful until 1957 when the city threatened to close it due to the economic decline in the neighborhood. The commissioner of the Department of Markets, Masciarelli, was able to keep the market open, but with stipulations. The market eventually closed and by 1973 the building was converted, with minimal changes, to Kings Charles Discount Supermarket. Like the former Havemeyer Market, the King Charles Discount eventually closed.
In 1997 William Rodriguez bought the building and converted it into the present C-Town Supermarket, also known as “Billy’s Marketplace”. Since then the building has been renovated several times and is still owned by the City of New York, under the Department of Economic Development.