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The Essex Street Market in Lower East Side Manhattan faces a unique retail dilemma. On the one hand, its bespoke and organic produce is ever more desirable to the New York white collar elite, yet on the other it faces obsolescence as the Essex Crossing Project slowly looms into realisation.

A megalithic mixed-use monster of offices, condos and endless sanitised retail franchises puts the very essence of the 50 year old market under threat. The Ford Foundation, historically involved in the fight for civil rights provides the traders with the opportunity of designing their own new market two blocks to the West of the current location, on Ludlow Street, on a vacant but narrow site.

The traders set about creating their own vertical market, using a paternoster lift system to allow an egalitarian sharing of prime retail spots. An essay in empowerment and active resistance, the project harnesses counter cultural community spirit as a force for measured change.