The La Merced Market is a traditional public market located in the eastern edge of the historic center of Mexico City and is the largest retail traditional food market in the entire city. The area, also called La Merced, has been synonymous with commercial activity since the early colonial period when traders arrived here from other parts of New Spain.
At one time, nearly the entire neighborhood was filled with market stalls and in the 1860s it was decided to build a permanent market on the grounds of the old La Merced monastery. In the first half of the 20th century, this market was the major wholesaler for the entire city. This ended when the Central de Abasto was opened in the 1980s, but La Merced remains the largest traditional retail market. The market area is also known for flagrant prostitution in which women can be seen soliciting at all hours of the day and night. It is estimated that about one third of these prostitutes are underage.