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Spending Twenty Minutes At Union Market

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D.C. is filled with architecturally interesting public spaces. To get an idea of how people are using these spaces, Curbed writers are spending twenty minutes in a given location and taking note of what they see. Want to nominate a place for this series? Hit up our tipline. Here's what happened on Sunday between 1:35-1:55 p.m. at Union Market.

1:35 p.m. — Union Market is totally distinct from everything else even in the visible vicinity. The buildings adjacent appear to be boarded up, falling apart and vacant. Rusty, corrugated metal sits in the back of the painted white warehouse itself as well as stratified layers of litter. There are broken bottles and everything that just seem to be part of the landscape now. Meanwhile, in front of the market, a family unhooks their bikes and rides off. The father says to a woman by her bike, "Well if you don't need it and you know it!" That's a weird phrase to hear out of context. She has a white chef smock and appears to work there.
1:37 p.m. — One outdoor picnic table is totally full and another has two people because 48 degrees is warm these days.

1:38 p.m. — Moving around inside is nearly impossible. Every inch of space appears to be used. There's a table immediately next to the door that's in use and directly in front of me someone on break is eating a salad. Someone else pushes politely past as they take out the trash.
1:40 p.m. — A woman brings a little girl with an orange balloon around to look at the flowers. The people at the table next to the door get up and one says, "I'm going to check out the pickle bar."
1:41 p.m. — The woman and little girl have picked out two daisies, or daisy-like flowers in two different shades of pink. A woman in an apron wraps them up.

1:42 p.m. — The smell of oysters from the oyster bar right next to the flower stand has suddenly gotten stronger than when I walked in. It may have been indistinguishable from the total array upon entry, but it sure isn't now.
1:43 p.m. — It seems that no matter my position, I'm in the way. There have been no fewer than five "Excuse me"s.
1:45 p.m. — The sound of grinding coffee comes from Peregrine Espresso. One of the workers has a well groomed mustache that twirls at the end because of course he does.
1:46 p.m. — Whoa. This crowd of ten people to the right is just the people waiting for their drinks. The line actually goes down to the next vendor which itself has a large line.
1:48 p.m. — Well, this is interesting. These unoccupied raised tables (mostly wooden and one of stainless steel) certainly used to hold a vendor but now it's become sort of a resting place. It's like a central place to eat for those who either can't find seats or don't wish to do anymore searching for them.

1:51 p.m. — The bathroom seems to be the only place without a line. This seems improbable. A man takes his empty glass soda bottle and drinks water out of it, then refills it at the fountain.
1:52 p.m. — Spoke too soon. Eight people just walked to use the loo in 20 seconds.
1:53 p.m. — The men who sell knives at DC Sharp are sharpening their knives on a stone. First it's slowly and with care, then much quicker. Their little corner filled with merchandise behind glass casing had been empty and then five people, no, seven, came to look. I am in the way everywhere.
1:55 p.m. — Buffalo Bergen has a long round bar made of hardwood. The punch in their bowl is called Spice it Up. Of note: last spring they had something called Daft Punch.
1:56 p.m. — There are even seats by the door with no table where people are sitting and eating. People are everywhere.