By Seth Fera-Schanes
The Fulton Fish Market was established in 1822 in New York City and located for the majority of its existence in lower Manhattan. Starting in 2005, the market moved up to Hunts Point in the Bronx.
The market is open 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) from 1am until 7am. Public access is allowed and has an entry fee of $2 for walk-ins and $5 if you want to park a noncommercial vehicle.
This market has been on my New York bucket list since I have been in the city. I was finally able to check it off with my extremely early morning adventure to the Bronx.
In preparation of my visit, I called the facility and asked about the best days and times to go. The market opens at 1am but is still getting set-up so I decided to wait a couple hours to ensure things were in full swing. Wait until 5am or later and there is a risk many of the vendors have already started to close up for the day. There are also busy/slow days and Friday being one of the busier, I opted for that day. I wanted to experience a bustling market and it didn’t disappoint.
Getting to the market poses a small logistical problem but one that is easily overcome given all the different modes of transportation available. I have zipcar and could have checked one out for 3 hours. However, that early in the morning I wasn’t feeling up to driving to the market by myself. If I had a few other people in the car, that would have been ok. Public transportation is also technically an option but nothing I would recommend. You would have to take the train and bus and walk. While I like at adventure, convenience is also nice. The third choice is a car service and that is what I took. I got an uber at 2:30am and they picked me up right at my front door and dropped me off right at the entrance of the market. (Note, there is a guarded gate at the market where you pay your entry fee. The person will allow the driver to enter the grounds, drop you off at the building and then leave.) The car service cost $21 each way for a total of $42 for the trip, so be prepared for some expenses with this adventure.
Things to know about the market:
1. The facility is kept cool and I read beforehand to bring a fleece or light jacket. This is sound advice so make sure you carry something with you.
2. Wear clothes and shoes you are comfortable getting a little messy. This is a working market and fish are being prepared so there is water, blood, scales and other fishy things around.
3. Be careful! The Fulton Fish Market is a large place with forklifts racing all over, guys with huge hooks flinging fish and a wet floor. Stay on the perimeter of the market (designated for walking) and avoid the middle where the forklifts are carrying crates piled high with fish and ice.
4. Look, feel, touch and buy something. You can ask the vendors questions, touch the fish, and make a purchase. The fish is about as fresh as you can get and comes in at wholesale prices. You might not want to buy an 80 pound halibut but there are snapper, cod, trout, oysters, clams that are a little more manageable. I bought an Arctic Char for $5.90/lb which is about a third of the price I would pay in retail store in the city a few hours after it is delivered.
I am happy I was able to make the trip and would recommend it to anyone who likes to get a behind the scenes look at a market that helps feed the city.