Quincy Market, a long-time Boston favorite, has changed during the pandemic

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BENJAMIN TYTELL/SAGAMORE STAFF

Quincy Market’s once-crowded steps have emptied, with the crowds of tourists that normally characterize this landmark gone.

As the door to the nearly 200-year-old Quincy Market opens, the smell of spices from all over the world blows past into the frigid Boston winter air. People walk by in groups of two or three, all in masks, all laughing and talking. Interspersed between their voices are the calls of people working stands, shouting “ribs” or “pizza” at pedestrians walking by.

Quincy Market is a beloved part of Boston, but the pandemic has changed it in ways many long-time customers find unfavorable. Located right behind Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market is less than a quarter-mile from the Old State House in the heart of Boston. The marketplace has a diverse food court (the official Quincy Market), various stalls for Boston-themed merchandise and several clothing stores. It is open from 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Saturday and 11 AM to 7 PM Sundays.

Annika De Leon, a sophomore at the high school, went to Quincy Market with her family often before the COVID-19 Pandemic began.

“Although normally it’s kind of a touristy place, we really enjoyed the stores that were there. It was also just a nice chance to get outside get some nice fresh air,” De Leon said.

De Leon said that she went to Quincy almost every week, and that Quincy Market always used to be a very busy place, no matter what.

“Any time I’d been there it was crowded no matter the weather. Even in the harsh Boston winters it tended to be crowded at all hours of the day,” De Leon said.

Sophomore Maya Shah said that she used to go to Quincy market very often, but since the beginning of the pandemic she’d only been there once. She said that when she went she noticed several major changes.

“There used to be seating indoors, and now the seating is outdoors, six feet apart, and a lot of the food stands closed down. The stores all have ‘that tape’ that’s six feet apart and they only let a certain amount of people in,” Shah said.

Sophomore Daniel Primilsky said he goes to the marketplace fairly frequently and that because of the changes due to the pandemic, the atmosphere there is much different from what it was before.

“It feels dirty because there are so many people that are in masks and it’s just like– raw. Like the air feels kind of heavy,” Primilsky said.

Primilsky said that he enjoys the stores in the area, and that’s what keeps bringing him back even during the pandemic. He did say, however, that the pandemic has made his experiences at Quincy Market more stressful.

“It’s a nice area around, but I feel like the vibe has changed. It doesn’t feel as relaxed as it did before because of all the there,” Primilsky said.

Shah’s childhood visits to New York inspired her love of cities such as Boston. She said Quincy Market isn’t her favorite place in the Boston area, but it is still an important part of the city to her.

“The vibe is not the same , so that’s why I’ve only been there once,” Shah said. “I like it there with my friends, and though I would pick Newbury Street and the Charles over Quincy Market it was still fun. I ate food, I hung out with friends; we had a good time.”

De Leon said that she loves that part of town, especially the aquarium, and that living without going to that part of town has been a big change for her and her family. De Leon said that the reason she hasn’t come back is primarily because of safety concerns.

“I’ve tried to minimize my time outside. When looking at the news and seeing all of the parties that are happening and even going to the grocery store and witnessing how people aren’t always following the guidelines, I feel like going to a place like that can be a big risk if it’s just for leisure,” De Leon said.

De Leon said that she’d seen how crowded Quincy Market was before, and that she was worried that adequate health guidelines wouldn’t be followed. However, she said that if proper health guidelines and precautions were followed, she would go despite the pandemic.

“I wouldn’t go nearly to the extent that I used to. COVID is still there. It’s still existent, and no matter the safety precautions I’d still be worried about it. But I would definitely go back and start visiting again and seeing those shops and just walking around,” De Leon said.