Breaking Down Albert Cuypmarkt

Breaking Down Albert Cuypmarkt

Like an enormous, slow-breathing organism, Albert Cuypmarkt slowly inhales blocks of vendors and shoppers each morning, and expels them from its paved lungs again each evening. This respiratory process is the product of a dedicated team of roustabouts whose job is to break down the market each night, and build it back up each morning. Excepting Sundays of course.

Open six days a week, Albert Cuypmarkt spans nearly a kilometer of Albert Cuypstraat in Amsterdam, and is the largest street market in the Netherlands. Despite the slightly touristy location in De Pijp, it's quite difficult to find souvenir magnets or hot stroopwafels or dodgy tulip bulbs, staples of the tourist markets. The vendors here specialize in inexpensively made clothing, kitchen cleaners, bicycle locks, and bedclothes—items that appeal more to the people who live here, to the cheap Dutch sensibility against spending too much money on items that do not deserve it.

But the vendors do not set up their own stalls. The stalls are managed by the market itself, sprawling blocks of tubular metal frameworks, modular constructions that come down quickly and without tools, that can be piled onto small motorized carts driven at break-neck speeds, terrorizing pedestrian and pigeons alike. The spoils of the day are piled into trash bags—or not—at the end of each block for gulls and cranes to shred and inspect and maybe eat or carry off.

In all, it takes about an hour for the workers to strip the market down to its bones and crate them off into discrete warehouses on side streets for the night. Then, in the morning, every stall is reconstructed, repopulated, items are sold, deals made, and then everything is torn down again, in a never ending cycle.

Colophon

Fujifilm X-Pro3 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR. Taken at Albert Cuypmarkt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


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