A Terminal Market System Part 1

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A Terminal Market System.

by Mrs. Elmer Black.


In the belief that the establishment of a first-cla.s.s _Terminal Market_ system, worthy of twentieth century requirements, is a matter of vital importance to every family in New York, I have spent considerable time during the past few months investigating markets on both sides of the Atlantic.

As a result I am more than ever conscious of the need for an enlightened public opinion to support the efforts of the Terminal Market Commission to secure this benefit for our community. I am convinced that our fellow-citizens will approve the requisite expenditure once they are roused to a realization of the inadequacy of our food-distributing centers.

In the hope that my investigations may aid in the accomplishment of this reform, I have prepared these observations, comments and comparisons.

It is true that the problem of the high cost of living is afflicting the old lands of Europe, the newer countries like New Zealand, as well as our own wide territories of the United States. The causes vary, according to local conditions; but everywhere it is agreed that a potent force for the amelioration of the condition of the consumers is found in the establishment of efficient Terminal Markets under munic.i.p.al control for all progressive cities. With wise administration, stringent inspection and sound safeguards, these munic.i.p.al markets benefit both producers and consumers. They eliminate considerable intermediate expense, delay and confusion. Last but not least they return a profit to the city treasury.

It is because our New York markets achieve none of these beneficent results that I issue this plea for the establishment of an adequate _Terminal Market_ system. I appeal to all who have the welfare of their city at heart to add the force of their opinion to the accomplishment of this civic improvement.

[Ill.u.s.tration: Madeleine Black (signature) (MRS. ELMER BLACK)]

United States

NEW YORK, with over 5,000,000 inhabitants, has no effective market system. The buildings are out of repair, there is little or no organization, and the superintendent has testified before the New York Food Investigation Commission (March 12, 1912) that on their administration last year there was _a loss to the city treasury of $80,000_. To that must be added due consideration of the inconvenience to the consumers, producers and dealers, and the extra cost of handling entailed by the lack of modern market methods. The city has almost quadrupled its population in a generation, but the markets remain about as they were. Many other cities in the United States not only testify to the value of munic.i.p.al markets as a means for lowering prices to the consumer, but so guard their interests as to provide a very different balance sheet.

Boston has a profit on its markets of $60,000, Baltimore $50,000, New Orleans $79,000, Buffalo $44,000, Cleveland (Ohio) $27,507, Washington (D. C.) $7,000, Nashville (Tenn.) $8,200, Indianapolis $17,220, Rochester (N. Y.) $4,721, and St. Paul (Minn.) $4,085.

If the following facts concerning munic.i.p.al markets are studied, also, it will be seen that no city in any way comparable to New York fails to make the munic.i.p.al markets yield advantages both to the community and the city treasury.

The British Isles

LONDON naturally serves as a starting point for a tour of European investigation. The British capital has, indeed, features that render it comparable in a peculiar degree with New York. The population of both, including their outer ring of suburbs, is over five millions. In each case there is access to the open sea by means of a n.o.ble waterway over which pa.s.ses the commerce of the seven seas. Railroads supplement the water-borne cargoes with home-grown produce, fresh from the farms for the use of urban kitchens.

London's markets do not afford the unbroken example of munic.i.p.al control that they would if a new system were to be created at the present day. Precedent looms large in British administration and even now there are only two ways of establishing a market--by Parliamentary authority and Royal Charter. King Henry III covenanted by charter with the City of London not to grant permission to anyone else to set up a market within a radius of seven miles of the Guildhall, and this privilege was subsequently confirmed by a charter granted by Edward III in 1326. But of late years the City Corporation has waived its rights and allowed markets to be established in various districts wherever a real necessity has been shown to exist. In fact the markets of London have grown with the city, keeping pace with its requirements.

[Ill.u.s.tration: COVENT GARDEN MARKET

The Morning Rush of Farm and Garden Produce for London Consumers.]

There remains, however, the fact that certain Corporation markets and Covent Garden market serve as great wholesale terminals, connected more or less unofficially with the numerous local markets in the outlying districts.

Chief among the Corporation markets is Smithfield, covering about eight acres, and costing altogether $1,940,000. There are to be found wholesale meat, poultry and provision markets, with sections for the sale, wholesale and retail, of vegetables and fish. In the last twenty years the development of cold storage processes has lowered the quant.i.ty of home-killed meat and remarkably increased the importation of refrigerated supplies. Last year the wholesale market disposed of 433,723 tons of meat, of which 77.2 per cent came from overseas.

Ten years ago the United States supplied 41 per cent of the Smithfield meat, but now these supplies have fallen off enormously and the last report of the Markets Committee says: "The United States, in particular for domestic needs, is within measurable distance of becoming a compet.i.tor with England for the output of South America." South America and Australasia are, indeed, the chief producers today for the British market.

This has developed a great cold storage business in London. All told London can accommodate 3,032,000 carcases of mutton, reckoning each carcase at 36 pounds. Over 41 per cent of England's imported meat pa.s.ses through Smithfield, and railroad access is arranged to the heart of the market. The Great Northern Railway Company has a lease from the corporation on 100,000 feet of bas.e.m.e.nt works under the meat market, with hydraulic lifts to the level of the market hall, and inclined roadways for vehicular traffic.

Most of the tenants at Smithfield are commission salesmen, who pay weekly rents for their shops and stalls at s.p.a.ce rates, all the fittings being supplied. Last year these rents brought in $427,920.

There is a toll of a farthing on every 21 pounds of meat sold, which together with cold storage, weighing and other charges amounted in the same period to $241,635. The meat sales are entirely wholesale, except on Sat.u.r.day afternoons, when there is a retail "People's Market," where thousands of the very poor buy cheap joints.


From an Old Print Dated 1810.]


There is an inclined road by the tree in the center of the picture, leading to the special railroad freight depot. Cars are also run directly under the market and their cargoes are delivered by hydraulic lifts to the stands above.]

The inspection is very strict, every precaution is taken to ensure cleanliness, and breaches of the regulations are punished by fines or imprisonment. All condemned carcases are sent to a patent Podewill destructor to be reduced by steam pressure and rolling to a powder, which is disposed of as an agricultural fertilizer.

On these central meat markets there is a _profit of about $100,000_.

The Corporation also controls a great live cattle market at Islington, covering seventy-five acres. Over $2,500,000 have been spent on this market and the modern slaughterhouses attached thereto. These slaughterhouses are not regarded as a remunerative concern, but are provided because they afford hygienic methods, and private slaughterhouses in London are decreasing rapidly. Last year 37,670 cattle, 101,646 sheep, 11,722 calves and 34,981 swine were slaughtered there, the charges being 36 cents a head for cattle, 4 cents for sheep, 8 cents for calves, and 12 cents for hogs. Mainly on account of the extensions and improvements, this market is not being run at a profit at present, but its public utility is held to justify the outlay. Nor does the Deptford Cattle market, of thirty acres, maintained on the banks of the Thames to deal with live cattle imported from abroad, pay its way. But there has been a serious decline in imported stock in late years, especially from America. At this market extreme precautions are taken to prevent the entry of cattle disease that might spread infection to British flocks and herds. All animals landed there must be slaughtered within ten days and submitted to rigid inspection. All hides and offal are immediately disinfected. Five hundred cattle can be unloaded from vessels at Deptford in twenty minutes. Last year 104,351 animals were killed, the meat being sent for sale to Smithfield and Whitechapel.

Billingsgate, the famous fish market of London, is also administered by the Corporation. Its records cover over six hundred years. It is hampered by narrow street approaches, but a very expeditious system of direct delivery of fish from the Thames side of the market building enables the licensed auctioneers to dispose of supplies very quickly.

Steam carriers collect the fish from the fleets around the coast and deliver them packed in ice at Billingsgate every night. Billingsgate market has cost the city $1,600,000. Stand prices are high, but there is keen compet.i.tion whenever a vacancy occurs. Last year the receipts amounted to $182,455. The auctioneers dealt with 194,477 tons of fish, of which 120,905 were water-borne and 73,572 land-borne. _The City profited to the extent of over $40,000_ on this fish trade.


The City of London Corporation's $1,940,000 Terminal--one of the Aisles with Wholesale Stands on each side.]

On the wholesale and retail meat, fruit, vegetable and fish market at Leadenhall there is also a profit of over $5,000.

_On the entire munic.i.p.al market enterprises of the city there is a profit of $156,000._ The markets are regarded with especial interest by the Corporation and the Committee which regulates them is considered one of the most important in the whole administration of the city. In order to keep abreast of the times most of the profit is expended on improvements and extensions.

Covent Garden, London's great fruit, flower and vegetable market, is owned by the Duke of Bedford, whose family have held it for hundreds of years. In the past century they have spent $730,000 on extensions and improvements. Of the present modern buildings, the fruit hall cost $170,000 and the flower building $243,000. Formerly the producers were chiefly concerned in the market, holding their stands at a yearly rental. But with the expansion of London the growers have gradually given place to dealers and commission men, who pay twenty-five cents a day per square foot of s.p.a.ce, and on the produce, at a regular scale, according to its nature. On flowers there is no toll, but each stand holder pays a fixed rental. Though this market has direct access neither to river nor railroad, it still retains its premier position among the wholesale markets of England. As the approaches are extremely narrow, most of the produce has to be carried on the heads of hundreds of porters from the wagons outside into the market buildings. As it is under private ownership, no figures are issued, but there is known to be a huge profit on the market. For outer London there are fruit and vegetable markets at Stratford, in the east, Kew in the west, the Borough in the south and two railroad markets in the north.

BIRMINGHAM, England's chief midland city, has owned its markets since 1824, administering them through a markets and fairs committee. Since 1908 the profits have been somewhat reduced, owing to outlay on improvements and extensions; but although the city has expended $2,156,362 on the markets, the profits have paid off more than half of that indebtedness, besides relieving taxation in other directions.

Not far away is the small city of KIDDERMINSTER, that may be mentioned as affording a demonstration of provincial munic.i.p.al enterprise, under more restricted conditions. On its vegetable market it makes a _profit of $1,000_, and on its b.u.t.ter market _a profit of $1,500_. The population of the city is only 25,000. Another midland city, WOLVERHAMPTON, makes a _profit of nearly $20,000_.


The Thames Side of the Market, Showing the Steam Carriers Unloading their Cargoes Direct into the Sale Room.]

LIVERPOOL, the great northern port on the Mersey, has spent $1,242,534 on six munic.i.p.al markets. The only market to lose money is the cattle market, which shows a deficit of $8,000. Liverpool has a cold storage capacity for 2,176,000 carcases. On the whole munic.i.p.al market enterprise, in this city of 700,000 people, there is an average annual _profit of $80,000_.

MANCHESTER serves not only its own area but surrounding industrial centers, with a total population of nearly 8,000,000. There are twelve markets and four slaughterhouses. Since 1868 the city has benefited by their administration to the extent of _$3,250,000 profit_.

Next to that of London, the fish market here is the largest in England.

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A Terminal Market System Part 1 summary

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