Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Society Hill

Dock Street Market

A black and white photograph of a building with a large tower at the front of the rectangular building. There is an overhang covering the sidewalk along the building, and the sidewalk is filled with people and products.

Dock Street Market was a principal food distributor for many local restaurants and businesses dating back to 1700s. (PhillyHistory.org)


The area of the Dock Street Market in Society Hill was a place of commerce for more than two centuries before it was demolished in 1959 to allow construction of the residential Society Hill Towers. Business owners constructed warehouses along Dock Creek in the late 1600s so ships could unload food, materials, and other products efficiently. The city filled in Dock Creek in 1784 and paved the new land with stones, creating Dock Street. The blocks surrounding Dock Street continued to be popular in the nineteenth century, as hundreds of merchants established distribution warehouses and sidewalk storefronts to sell a variety of food to other Philadelphia businesses and individuals. This image from 1914 shows the Fish Market building, an enclosed warehouse that sold fresh fish from dozens of merchants. The Dock Street market diminished in size after World War II as competition from other markets and changes in distribution forced some merchants to move elsewhere. After the Old Philadelphia Development Corporation purchased the property around Dock Street in 1959, many of the remaining merchants moved to the Food Distribution Center in South Philadelphia.

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