In 1847, the colonial government set out the rules for the establishment of markets in the city. The Adelaide City Council allocated a space on Pirie Street for a new produce market shortly thereafter, but traders soon found the space too small and awkward for produce transportation and sale.

In 1867, property owner and entrepreneur Richard Vaughan stepped in to establish a private market on East Terrace called the East End Market. The Register newspaper noted that the new market was a place “where anybody who has anything to sell is sure to find anybody who has anything to buy”. The markets quickly grew in popularity as its location was easily accessible for producers coming into the city from the Adelaide Hills and the Adelaide Plains. Producers from all over attended the markets, many travelling for several hours by cart or foot to sell their produce.

A number of new buildings and businesses quickly appeared after the establishment of the private market in the East End. The nearby East End Hotel was built in 1868 by G.E. Holtermann. The hotel was a favourite place for market patrons and for stall holders to gather after a long day of trading. In 1926, a fire damaged the shops surrounding the hotel- a common occurrence in the history of the buildings in the East End.

By the 1890s, competition for stalls was so great that William Charlick, the owner of a fruit, potato and grocery store, purchased nearby land on East Terrace and established a new independent market, the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange.

Both markets operate until the 1980s when they were relocated to Pooraka.