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The State Street Market, which actually fronted on Fourth Street, as seen from the Capitol lawn. The National Hotel's second floor is visible beside the market. (See Hotels)

Photo: Historical Society of Dauphin County

The State Street Market

In 1880, the State Street Market was sold to Augustus R. Shellenberger, but the market days remained the same. The market was open on Tuesday and Friday mornings, when farmers from around Harrisburg brought their goods into their 8th Ward stalls to sell them to the neighborhoods' residents. Because Harrisburg was surrounded by farmlands, the goods offered at the market were fresh and locally grown.

Although market days were always crowded, the most popular market day by far was Saturday evenings. On these evenings, State Street, from Fourth Street where the market sat to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks beyond Poplar Avenue, was packed with carriages and people.

Within the market, a "congress of nations" was represented, where blacks, Jews, "Huns, Slavs, and Polacks" went about their market business. As the ethnic flavor of the ward changed, so too did the faces in the market's aisles. Although the ward began with mostly black, Irish, and German residents, many Russian Jews, Italians, and Greeks lived in the community by the early twentieth century. Always present in the market were many fashionably-dressed young women, who were actually prostitutes from nearby brothels searching the crowds for customers.

On Sunday mornings, the Capitol grounds, which were located directly across from the State Street Market, were littered with the remains of Saturday night dinners eaten by market attendees. The Capitol Police, who were left to clean up the trash from Saturday night revelry, found this irksome.

(Summarized from an article written by J. Howard Wert for the Harrisburg Patriot newspaper on April 28, 1913, and reprinted in Harrisburg's Old Eighth Ward, edited by Michael Barton and Jessica Dorman, (Charleston: Arcadia, 2002), 105-106.)

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