Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is in mourning today after losing the landmark Eastern Market to a fire early Tuesday morning. The market was a cornerstone of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and a draw for locals and tourists alike. But it also served to knit the neighborhood together, the heart—or at least the stomach—of the community.

Marc Fisher, writing for the Washington Post, addresses these issues in his column, “Eastern Market: What We’ve Lost.”

Eastern Market, which burned early this morning, was not just a collection of produce and meat stands in a 130-year-old brick building on Capitol Hill. … Eastern Market was what people talk about when they get all misty about the possibilities of a city. It was a place where people came not merely to gather necessities or shop for frills, but rather a place where people came to see and be among each other.

The numerous comments posted after the piece echo Marc’s sentiments as locals grieve for the loss of the landmark and share their memories.

The market wasn’t just a place for commerce. It was a setting for so much of what gives life pleasure—the opportunity to meet other people, to share a beautiful sunny Sunday, to realize how lucky you are to live in such a community. Looking at the faces of neighbors standing watch over the market’s remains only underscored the central role that the market has played in this community.

I’ve been living in the neighborhood for two years. When I saw it, I couldn’t walk any further and simply cried for a while. If you haven’t spent weekend after weekend watching your entire neighborhood gathering around one spot and enjoying life together, you simply couldn’t understand the heartbreak.

Of course, there is also concern for what comes next—will the Eastern Market be rebuilt and how quickly? What about the vendors? Will the space be taken over by Subway and Quiznos?

With this much concern and care, there’s hope the Eastern can be quickly restored to its place in the community. One commenter is even ready to jump in and help. “I can pound nails and usually spend a lot of my weekend time at the Market,” he writes, “so I am ready to begin the rehab this weekend.”

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