A Brief History Of The Iron Market In Port-au-Prince

Marché de Fer, or Iron Market is a major landmark in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. This beautiful orange structure is a living example of the vagaries of time and circumstance. It was originally built in the late 19th century in Paris and was intended for the railway station in Cairo, Egypt. The French builder who was awarded the contract specialized in minarets which are ubiquitous to Islamic architecture, and that is perhaps why the structure bears some resemblance to a mosque, sans onion dome. 

However, the deal between France and Egypt fell through and the then President of Haiti, Florvil Hyppolite got wind of the failed transaction. He worked with the French authorities to get the structure shipped to Haiti, where it was finally erected in 1891. Overtime, this market became the hub of trading activity in Port-au-Prince and many hundred tradesman and merchants began selling their wares there. This historic iron structure has been witness to some setbacks in the recent past. It was partially damaged by a fire in 2008 and then in 2010, a powerful earthquake reduced the market to rubble. The Iron Market was reconstructed and formally opened in January 2011, largely due to philanthropic contributions by Denis O'Brien, an Irish billionaire whose company, Digicel has a huge footprint in the Caribbean mobile communications market. 

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