There are many good things about living in the area in which I do. One of them is the proximity to so many intriguing places, places that offer history, art, music, culture, and many other dimensions. Philadelphia is a short drive, less than forty miles (about sixty-four kilometers). It's obviously well-known for its history, but also has a very rich cultural heritage. The Italian Market represents a significant dimension of that heritage, as the largest and oldest continuously operating outdoor market in the United States.
The market dates back to the mid-1880's, when businesses were established to serve a growing community of Italian immigrants. It stretches about eight blocks, with one side of the street predominantly housing food stalls - fish, meat, fruit, vegetables - and cheese, charcuterie, bakeries, restaurants, and a variety of shops on the other. The two merge, at times, like when a shop selling record albums uses perfectly sized produce containers to display is offerings. Pat's and Geno's, the best-known Philadelphia cheesesteak purveyors, operate across the street from one another at one end of the Market. The Market's other end is just a few blocks away from South Street, a vibrant section of the city with many shops, bars, and restaurants. While the Market was established to serve the community of Italian immigrants, it has diversified over the years and serves immigrant communities from other parts of the world, including Mexico, Korea, and Viet Nam. The City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program is represented in various places in the market, the largest of which is a mural of notable former mayor Frank Rizzo. Another features "Sounds of Philadelphia", honoring musical artists from years back, including Fabian, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Chuck Berry, Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, and Jerry Blavat (a DJ known for his Doo Wop shows who is still active today).
I visited the Italian Market on a bright Saturday. Until that day, I hadn't ventured out much through this year to make images due to my recovery from Achilles tendon reconstruction I underwent earlier in the year. I found myself experiencing some of the reluctance I felt when I initially was making photographs along the streets in France last year. Like then, that feeling dissipated after a few big smiles and thank yous from the people who were generous enough to allow me to make images of them.