Monday, April 30, 2007

Eastern Market

Weren't you there when the carousel burned down
The fire and confusion, the smoke and the sound
I swear you were there when the carousel burned down
We were all around
The rings charred and tarnished all over the ground
And the heads hung down
And we all left town the next day

-- Todd Rundgren, The Night The Carousel Burnt Down

On days that I walk to work, I pass the main building of the Library of Congress, the U.S. Capitol, House Office Buildings, the Botanical Gardens, the Museum of the American Indian, the Air and Space Museum, and the Smithsonian Castle. The first landmark on my journey, however, is Eastern Market -- housed in an historic building and operating continuously since 1873, it's part of my neighborhood and it's the only market left in town. While the other sites on my walk are attractions for everyone, few tourists know of Eastern Market. They don't wait in line on a warm Saturday morning to get a stack of blues (blueberry pancakes) at Market Lunch, get great cheeses from the curmudgeonly cheese monger, or attend the outdoor weekend markets filled with arts and crafts. Off the top of my head, I count eight pictures we've bought at Eastern Market that hang in our house.

My first date with Kathy started at Eastern Market -- it was my first visit to Eastern Market, even though I had moved to Capitol Hill about a month earlier. I'm not sure I knew it was much more than a Metro stop the five years I lived in the Virginia suburbs, but now it's the center of my community.

In the wee hours of this morning the South Hall, which houses the food merchants, was badly damaged by fire (fortunately, no one was hurt). I felt compelled to see the horror for myself this morning, and here are the pictures I took (and here are some photos by the Washington Post). The mayor and other city officials and representatives have already promised to rebuild, and to find alternate places for the merchants whose shops were lost in the meantime.