Episode 019: Kenneth Turino, The Colonial Boston Marketplace

Boston Marketplace

Have you ever wondered where colonial Americans purchased their food?

Although many colonial Americans lived in rural areas or on farms where they could grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs, graze their livestock, or hunt wild game, many others lived in early American cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

Where did these colonial city-dwellers get their food?

Kenneth Turino, the Manager of Community Relations and Exhibitions for Historic New England, joins us to explore the colonial Boston marketplace.


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

ken turinoIn this episode, Kenneth Turino, Manager of Community Relations and Exhibitions for Historic New England, leads us on an exploration of the colonial Boston marketplace.

Ken will reveal the origins of the Boston marketplace from the colonial period to the present; How everyday men and women bought and sold food during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; Why Peter Faneuil offered to build Faneuil Hall in 1742 and why his fellow Bostonians nearly turned down his generous offer.


What You’ll Discover

  • Information about Historic New England, the oldest heritage organization in the United States
  • The types of properties that Historic New England cares for
  • What The Haymarket Project is and why Ken and Historic New England chose to undertake it
  • How Haymarket developed out of the colonial Boston Marketplace
  • Information about the first open-air marketplace in colonial Boston
  • How peddlers sold goods in 17th-century Boston
  • The first market building in Boston (1635)
  • Who sold the peddlers’ goods: men or women
  • Who purchased goods at the market: men or women
  • How men and women purchased goods during the colonial currency shortage
  • How the Boston Market District developed from the 17th century through the American Revolution
  • How, why, and where Boston established 3 public markets in 1734
  • Why an angry mob dressed as clergymen destroyed the central market in 1737
  • Why Peter Faneuil offered to build Faneuil Hall, a new market house in the center of the Market District and why Bostonians almost said “No”
  • Why Boston built Quincy Market between 1824 and 1826
  • The types of goods sold at Quincy Market in the early-to-mid 19th century
  • How Haymarket fits into the picture of Boston’s early American markets
  • How Haymarket combined the formal marketplace with Bostonians’ preference for buying goods from peddlers
  • How Haymarket operates today
  • Present-day threats to the Haymarket
  • Ken’s tips for experiencing Haymarket during your next visit
  • When Ken and Historic New England will offers tours of the Haymarket in 2015

Boston Map 1723

Links to People, Places, and Publications



Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

What might have happened if Boston had not been so urban or had been further inland?

Do you think the market would have started as it did?

How would the marketplace have been different?


Questions, Comments, Suggestions

Do you have a question, comment, or suggestion?

Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.



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*Photos and Maps Courtesy of Boston Public Library Photostream


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