Broadway Market, the first city market in Baltimore, was located near the Fells Point docks in order to take advantage of all the goods arriving regularly from the Eastern Shore and elsewhere. Like all public markets, it served as a major gathering place for shoppers, which meant a number of hotels, taverns, and other businesses filled the surrounding area.
As time passed, the events of history shaped life at the market. During the War of 1812, the British focused on the city due to the privateers out of Baltimore that had been harassing their ships. They also would blockade the transport of food and goods moving through the harbor. This caused periodic food shortages, compounded by the fact that farmers stopped coming to market out of fear of losing their horses to defense efforts.
After the war, as more and more locally enslaved people were being “sold south” and slave markets grew, the market began to see auctions of people. An auctioneer would be attracted to markets because it was easy to draw a crowd of people that would add to the excitement of a sale. At least one auctioneer, Nicholas Strike, held court-ordered auctions here to sell enslaved people. This type of auction could be held anywhere, like courthouse steps, jails, or auction houses, but a market area always guaranteed a crowd.