Just over 100 years ago, a member of the famed Astor family tried a unique experiment on 95th Street and Broadway — a market where people could get a wide variety of goods all under one roof.
The Astor Market — on the site of what is now Symphony Space — is sometimes called the first supermarket, according to the Bowery Boys, who wrote about the history of the market. It was built in 1915, at a time when the city was looking for new ways to expand markets — food prices were spiking because of World War I.
So Vincent Astor, husband to famed philanthropist Brooke Astor, opened the Astor Market.
Check out a $4 “Christmas Menu” from the market. Boiled onions, raisins and a 9-pound goose. Yum!
The Bowery Boys note that the city’s high hopes for the market didn’t quite come to fruition.
The city had great hopes that the Astor Market would set the standard for others in the city. “This is the last word in market building,” said the city’s commissioner of markets…The Astor Market is sometimes called the first supermarket. But it was a bit too experimental for its day and the market closed in 1917. Simply put — people still preferred small and local vs. wide selection at a distance.
Apparently at the time people preferred shopping at small local spots. Fairway was founded as a fruit cart in 1933, by the way, before becoming one of the most successful markets in the city.