214 Years… And Counting

By Nathan Easington, Howard University New Service

214 years strong.

The Maine Avenue Fish Market or the Wharf, which has been a staple attraction alongside the Potomac River, has recently become the oldest market in the the United States.  Although having provided D.C. with its signature seafood for 214 years, the market always played second fiddle to the Fulton Fish Market, in New York.  However, when Fulton moved locations 15 years ago, the Wharf became the oldest market in one location in the U.S.   

“Its where I come to get seafood, why go to Harris Teeter or Wholefoods when the best seafood in the city has been sold right here for decades,” said Thomas Murphy a local D.C. resident. 

As the Wharf has had to adapt with how people like buying their seafood products, changing from the days of customers buying their fresh fish straight from the boat, to a more commercialized look selling from store fronts.  Stores have also had to conform to an issue that all of D.C. has faced as well, gentrification.

As recently as 2017 another plan has been put in place to help modernize the Wharf area.  The new poenital layout of the Wharf would consist of, more condos lining the shore of the river and more entertainment locations in surrounding areas.     

“It has been hard, and we do have to fight because for restaurants like ours people come for the nostalgia,” said a cashier at Jessie Taylor Seafood.

As the demand for a increased commercialized look for the Wharf continues to gain traction, many residents are worried that the Wharf will become another forgotten landmark of D.C.

“I just don’t want to see it go, they can put anything they want around it, as long as I can still get a fish sandwich down here i’ll be okay,” said Mark Desmond a loyal Wharf customer. 

As the fabled D.C. landmark continues to age and let the world around it advance, it is clear that Ward 6 and District residents alike still enjoy the same food, hospitality and ambiance that made this location so popular over 200 years ago.