The Baltimore City markets are under the control of the city comptroller, but for convenience they are described as a separate record group. The records in this record group are financial in nature and the few extant administrative records are in the comptroller's files (RG 43).
The market system began in 1747 when the Maryland legislature authorized the Baltimore Town Commissioners to hold and regulate annual fairs. In 1765 the legislature also authorized the commissioners to appoint a clerk for each market for general administration especially in regards to revenues from rents and fines and for other monies generated from public use. The charter of 1796 gave the mayor and city council the power "to erect and regulate markets" and the system of market clerks remained. It appears that the revenue records of the markets were maintained by the city register from 1797 until the creation of the city comptroller's office in 1857. The comptroller continues to exercise the prime responsibility for the administration of the markets although the immediate administration was under a market master from 1898, a superintendent of markets from 1956, and a bureau of markets and comfort stations from 1968.
The city markets include the Belair market, founded in 1835 and still in existence; Canton market, founded in 1858; the old "Marsh Market," founded in 1773, variously named, and taken over by the state in 1975 as the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market (now in Jessup, Maryland, see MS.l); the Cross Street Market, founded in 1845 and still in existence; the Fell's Point Market, founded in 1785 and still in existence as the Broadway Market; the Hanover Market, founded in 1784; the Hollins Market, founded in 1835 and still in existence; the Lafayette Market, founded in 1869 and still in existence; the Lexington Market, founded in 1818 and established by the state in 1945 as a separate market authority; the Northeast Market, founded in 1885 and still in existence; and the Richmond Market, in operation between 1833 and 1956. A brief history of each market and market house is in the 1911 annual report of the comptroller, which is in box 1 of series 1 in this record group.
Researchers needing more information about the markets should consult Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1899); Leonard Owens Rea, The Financial History of Baltimore 1900-1926, Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, series 48, no. 3 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1929); Municipal Handbook 1977 (Baltimore: Department of Legislative Reference, 1977); annual reports of the city comptroller; the various city charters, especially 1796 and 1898, and Baltimore City codes; ord. 16 (1797); ord. 77 (1798); ord. 38 (1826); and ord. 30 (1828). Copies of these ordinances and others pertaining to specific markets are in box 1 of series 1 of this record group.