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Revitalized Lexington Market brings back memories, restores hope

Memories of Lexington Market stretch back decades
Memories of Lexington Market stretch back decades 02:24

BALTIMORE – Lexington Market is an iconic structure that, to some people, represents the heart and soul of Black Baltimore.

Habibah Sayyed has fond memories of Lexington Market stretching back for decades.

"I'm a little past 70 and I grew up in Baltimore born and reared," Sayyed said.

As the longest continually operated public market in the country, Lexington Market remains a community anchor and source of pride for black Baltimoreans from generations past.

"My mom, my grandmother, my great grandparents my aunts and cousins—everybody came to Lexington market to get the best of the best of everything," Sayyed said.

Historian Johns Hopkins with Baltimore Heritage said the more than 200-year-old market has a storied past.

"Black Baltimoreans' families have been intertwined with this market for literally hundreds of years, even through the city's dim years," Hopkins said. "Both before and after slavery so early black Baltimoreans who were enslaved were very much a part of this market as were free black Baltimoreans before the civil war."

The massive years-long renovation is breathing new life into the market and has ignited hope in merchants like Tselane-Daniel Holloway with Tossed Together.

"This is a game changer," Holloway said. "When I was in high school, I used to go to the old Lexington Market for my honey twist donuts."

The diverse mix of vendors attracted Holloway and dozens of minority businesses.

"Being in high school going to the old market I didn't see merchants or owners who looked like me" Holloway said."So now what they have done is like 80% African-American and 52% African-American women-owned." 

Stalls are filled with Black vendors peddling sausages, jewelry, desserts, and an assortment of exotic food. Robin Holmes with Deddles Mini Donuts praised the changes.

"I have always felt connected to Baltimore," Holmes said. "I was born and raised in Baltimore. So, Lexington Market is like the heartbeat." 

Customer perception of the market changed over the years. Sayyed said she still remembers it as an attraction that once drew visitors from all over the region.

"I stopped coming when things got a little crazy, out of control, don't need to go, there but it's like the old times and the old days," Sayyed said. "I wish my grandmother and my mom were here, they'd be down here shopping too."

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