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Movable Markets

Food Wholesaling in the Twentieth-Century City

Helen Tangires

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The untold story of America's wholesale food business.

In nineteenth-century America, municipal deregulation of the butcher trade and state-incorporated market companies gave rise to a flourishing wholesale trade. In Movable Markets, Helen Tangires describes the evolution of the American wholesale marketplace for fresh food, from its development as a bustling produce district in the heart of the city to its current indiscernible place in food industrial parks on the urban periphery.

Tangires follows the middlemen, those intermediaries who became functional necessities as the railroads…

The untold story of America's wholesale food business.

In nineteenth-century America, municipal deregulation of the butcher trade and state-incorporated market companies gave rise to a flourishing wholesale trade. In Movable Markets, Helen Tangires describes the evolution of the American wholesale marketplace for fresh food, from its development as a bustling produce district in the heart of the city to its current indiscernible place in food industrial parks on the urban periphery.

Tangires follows the middlemen, those intermediaries who became functional necessities as the railroads accelerated the process of delivering perishable food to the city. Tracing their rise and decline in the wake of a deregulated food economy, she asks: How did these people, who occupied such key roles as food distributors and suppliers to the retail trade, end up exiled to urban outskirts? Moving into the early twentieth century, she explains how progressive city planners and agricultural economists responded to anxieties about the high cost of living, traffic congestion, and disruptions in the food supply by questioning the centrality, aging infrastructure, and organizational structure of wholesale markets.

Tangires combines economic and cultural history by analyzing popular literature, innovative scholarship, and USDA publications. Detailing the legal, physical, and organizational means behind the complex exodus of food wholesaling from the urban core, Tangires also reveals how the trade adjusted to life beyond the city limits as it created new channels of distribution, product lines, and markets. Readers interested in US history, city and regional planning history, food history, and public policy, as well as anyone curious about the disappearance of the central produce district as a major component of the city, will find Movable Markets a fascinating read.

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Movable Markets

Helen Tangires

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Reviews

Reviews

Tangires's careful attention to physical market spaces brings them to life for readers interested in architectural history or urban planning.

Helen Tangires tells the story of a time, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when wholesale urban food markets mattered very much to the average consumer.

Tangires's meticulous and thought-provoking book takes us on a fascinating journey through the transformation and translocation of US wholesale food markets. In taking a long view, it offers new insights into this important topic, reminding us of the continued importance of state involvement in food distribution; food supply was a political as well as logistical undertaking.

Tangires weaves the complex strands of varied people and places into a coherent big-picture overview of the civic reforms that reshaped the food distribution system in the twentieth century. With its focus on landscapes of wholesaling, this book will make a valuable contribution to the scholarship of twentieth-century food history.

Helen Tangires is probably the best-suited person to write a book on food wholesaling in the twentieth century. Movable Markets will make a major contribution to our historic knowledge of the American food industry.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
312
ISBN
9781421427478
Illustration Description
30 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Acronyms
Introduction
Part I. Open Entry
1. Shelter for the Middleman
2. The Produce District: Design by Improvisation
Part II. Consolidation
3. Planning the Wholesale Terminal

Acknowledgments
List of Acronyms
Introduction
Part I. Open Entry
1. Shelter for the Middleman
2. The Produce District: Design by Improvisation
Part II. Consolidation
3. Planning the Wholesale Terminal Market
4. The Nation's Capital: Testing Ground for the Wholesale Trade
Part III. New Frontiers
5. The New Deal: Birth of the State-Sponsored Regional Market
6. Industrial Parks and the USDA Paradigm
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Helen Tangires

Helen Tangires is Administrator of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.