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Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market Marks Return

May 3, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The slaughterhouses, breweries and tenements from the 1930s are gone, but the flea market in a neighborhood once known as Hell’s Kitchen was back Saturday.

New York’s version of London’s Portobello Road or the Marche aux Puces in Paris was revived more than six decades after the original Paddy’s Market touted goods off pushcarts.

About 100 vendors, selling items ranging from fruit to cigars to African art, set up on a block behind the city’s main bus station, in a Manhattan no-man’s-land of run-down buildings and empty lots. It’s part of the slow gentrification of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, now more elegantly named Clinton, where residential high-rises are sprouting here and there.

``Just to bring something human back to this area feels nice,″ said businessman Alan Boss, a native New Yorker who negotiated a deal with the city to close West 39th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues to traffic each weekend.

The old Paddy’s Market operated in Hell’s Kitchen from the 1870s to the late 1930s, on Ninth Avenue between 38th and 42nd streets. The carts rolled in on Saturday, expected to do business into the wee hours Sunday.

The new market is a 9-to-5 weekend operation on a normally traffic-clogged stretch that still has butchers and fishmongers.

Some of the items might have been at home at the past or present venue _ such as a 1923 toaster offered by ``toaster historian″ Michael Sheafe.

Even older were some of the 20,000 doorknobs stocked by Olde Good Things, a West 24th Street shop run by the New York office of the Philadelphia-based Church of Bible Understanding.

The table was filled with items salvaged before building demolitions, including a $35 terra cotta ``floret″ that graced Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tenn.

``Elvis Presley had his high school graduation there, and he performed there a few times,″ said vendor Bob Johnston.


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