The wait is over. Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market celebrated their official reopening in their new location that’s just one block away from the former space.
The vision of the reimagined public market began under former Mayor Stephane Rawlings-Blake. After four Baltimore mayors, three Maryland governors, and many setbacks due the pandemic the project has finally completed.
A ceremonial ribbon cutting event Tuesday was attended by Gov. Wes Moore, Mayor Brandon Scott, Councilman Eric Costello, City Council President Nick Mosby, representatives from Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, members of the Baltimore Public Markets team, community leaders, and many members of the community.
“Today is a great day in Baltimore when we can come together and celebrate the completion of another transformative project that will benefit the lives of so many residents and visitors to Charm City,” Scott said. “While many of us will miss the old building and the memories we made there, Lexington Market 2.0 will build upon what made the old market so special and an unparalleled sense of Baltimore community.”
In addition to the ribbon cutting ceremony, attendees also witnessed a bell ringing tradition that dates back almost 60 years ago.
In 1963, Lexington Market shoeshine vendor James B. Carpenter started a daily tradition of ringing a 200-pound bell that hung on Eutaw Street outside of Lexington Market at 8 a.m. sharp to signal the start of the business day. Today, Carpenter’s great-grandson Jayson Williams, who runs a local development and construction firm, rang the bell in honor of his family and signifying a new beginning.
Lexington Market is the longest-running public market in the country, dating back to 1782. The market now holds 50 stalls and 10 kiosks, with a diverse mix of local food and service vendors with over 50% of the businesses being Black-owned and 50% of them being women-owned.
“Lexington Market is not just a place where people can feed their stomachs and feed their minds. It’s a place where we feed our souls because this is community,” Moore said. “This is what it means to have a gathering spot where people can learn and engage and celebrate. And that’s what this is, a celebration of a community that loves for each other, that cares for each other, a community that will ride for each other.”
Vendors, both new and old, are excited about the new space and what the future holds for the community.
The Black Acres Roastery began operation in Lexington Market in the beginning of November. The coffee shop’s owner, Matt Nierenberg, said he can feel the excitement around the new marketplace.
“The energy is building every single week,” Nierenberg said. “The more stalls that open, the more people that are walking through it’s starting to feel really good.”
Alex Kofman, owner of Kofman’s Shoe Repair, said his family’s business has been operating at Lexington Market since 1979.
Over the course of those 44 years, the shoe repair business and its fellow vendors have seen the good and the bad, Kofman said. But after the renovations and reconstruction, Kofman is looking forward to the market being a place for all to gather and enjoy themselves.
“It’s a change that was worth waiting for,” he said. “Most of the original merchants have been through quite a lot. We’ve seen the lowest of the lows and this right now is beyond our expectations. Moving forward I expect the community to be more in line with what we wanted all along. A safe place for families to hang out with cleanliness, politeness, niceness, just a nice environment.”
Visit LexingtonMarket.com for hours of operation, a full list of vendors, and any additional information.