Ansyen Foto Mache Ipolit an nwa e blan ISPAN pibliye. Nou ajoute yon ti koulè sou li
Hyppolite’s Iron Market is known by numerous names, each with its own historical justification. The market is located near the bay of Port-au-Prince, away from the mountainous areas of the city. This gives the Market its name Mache Anba (Foothill Market). The land on which the market is built was once used as a public botanic garden and thereafter as the first market of the city of Port-au-Prince. In 1773, the governor of the territory, Louis Florent, Marquis de Vallière, had the area fenced. As a result, the Market became known as Mache Valyè (Vallière’s Market).
After Independence in 1804, the area continued to be used as a market. Then in 1896, with a thriving economy, Hyppolite’s government made a strong effort to modernize Haiti’s infrastructure and built an iron structure over the market giving it the name Mache An Fè (Iron Market) or Mache Ipolit (Hyppolite’s Market). In 2010 the Market was destroyed by Goudou Goudou, a magnitude 7 Earthquake. With technical guidance from ISPAN, it was rebuilt by Denis O’Brien, the owner of Digicel, with 12 million dollars of his own personal funds resulting in the name Mache Dijisèl (Digicel’s Market). The reconstruction further modernized the market with the addition of solar panels.
Overtime the Iron Market, the largest iron structure in the Caribbean, became the iconic representation of Port-au-Prince just like other projects with steel became the iconic representation of their cities. This is the case in France with the Eiffel Tower. It is also the case with the Chrysler Building and the Empire state building in New York whose frame is made of metal.
Among the many names for the Market, the one most commonly used is probably Mache Ipolit. Its usage honors President Hyppolite who in 1890 selected the Haitian engineer Alexandre Bobo to build the Iron Market. One firm in France, Baudet & Donon, internationally renowned for building metal structures, was contracted for the project.
The market was designed to fit the two blocks were in now resides with an overpass pavilion allowing traffic to flow uninterrupted in the intervening street. The overpass pavilion has a Middle Eastern design element. At the time such artistic influence was considered in Europe to be eclectic and fashionable.
The metal parts arrived in Haiti in 1890 and it took one year for Alexandre Bobo’s team to assemble it. A team of Haitian workers had to build it because at the time there was a cholera epidemic raging through the world. Hyppolite’s government quarantined people arriving from foreign nations and limited their entry into the country to prevent the Cholera epidemic from infecting Haiti. Due to this public health policy cholera did not enter Haiti until it was brought to the country recently by the United Nations.
The Iron Market was inaugurated on November 22nd, 1891. Since its inauguration the southern hall has been used for food products and the northern hall for artworks and as such became the largest public area displaying Vodou inspired art in the country.
The mere fact that the two wings of the market and the pavilion fits the two blocks and intervening street is sufficient proof that the market was indeed designed for its location. This perfect fit of a complex structure on the terrain refutes the urban myth that this large Iron Market came to Port-au-Prince by error in shipment from Europe.
The market is built on an elevated platform surround by a metal ledge for the safety of the occupants. Its roof provides sun protection while maximizing air flow to not require air conditioning. The sides are fenestrated to allow additional air flow. Each of the two sections are 50 meters in width and 100 meters in length. The Iron Market was built at a cost of 135,000 dollars.
In 1999, the Haitian government recognized the contributions of President Hyppolite’s government to the nation and placed his picture along with the Iron Market on the largest bill issued by the country, the 1000-gourdes. That same year, the Haitian government designated the market as a national monument. This designation gives the government the legal obligation to safeguard the market and to protect it for future generations
Unfortunately, in 2008 the northern hall was destroyed by fire and later in 2010 the entire structure was destroyed by the earthquake. Thanks to ISPAN’s documentation of the history and of the architecture of Hypollite’s Iron Market, it was rebuilt by Denis O’Brien of Digicel. Again, on February 12th, 2018, the market was destroyed by another fire. Given its designation as a national monument and its historical importance a, the market must rise again.
Bulletin de L’ISPAN. Numero 2 1er juillet 2009
Bulletin de L’ISPAN. Numero 13 1er juin 2010
Bulletin de L’ISPAN. Numero 20 1er janvier 2011
Entèvyou ak Yoland Gilles ak Elange Gilles
A Symbol of Hope for Haiti, a Landmark Again Stands Tall. By Pooja Bhatia. New York Times, January 10, 2011.
Bookmanlit’s Article on the History of Cholera in Haiti.