In the postwar years, sweeping changes in where people lived, how they traveled, and where they shopped signaled problems for the Market's viability. The Reading Railroad's revenue declined and it had less to invest in the Market's upkeep. The roof started leaking and the building deteriorated. Compounding these challenges, new food safety regulations required farmers and merchants to invest in modern equipment. The cost and inconvenience led some to leave.
Then, in 1976 the Reading Company leased the Market to a management firm that raised rents dramatically. This decision combined with the rundown condition of the Market and a shrinking customer base drove out more merchants. By the late 1970s, conditions were so bad that only the most diehard merchants and their most loyal customers kept the Market afloat. Several years later, the Reading Company bought back the lease and began to reinvest in the aging infrastructure. New management recruited new merchants, including Amish farmers and Asian produce vendors, and organized promotional events to bring in more customers.
"The market, one of Philadelphia's great public spaces, is an integral part of the new convention center...It must be saved as part of the city's daily life..."
Thomas Hine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1992
"I'm here for about 38 years, and back in those days it was the finest market on the East coast. They had one in New York that was good, too, but I think this was the best."
--Harry G. Ochs, Market butcher
"The Market (continues to) exist only by the winking and clinking of city officials."
Harry R. Belinger, Former City Commerce Director, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1977