Cheapside Park is a block in downtown Lexington, Kentucky between Upper Street and Mill Street. Cheapside was known as a large slave market before the [Civil War], and a general trading market after. Today it is home to several Lexington staples, and popular events, such as Thursday Night Live and the Halloween Thriller Parade.
Cheapside was a major marketplace and one of the largest markets in the South prior to the Civil War, chiefly because of it was so far from the Ohio River and became a major trading hub. One of the largest slave markets in the south existed at Cheapside, though it was detested by locals. Cheapside was also host to the sale of "fancy girls", young women of mixed race sold as sex slaves.The Kentucky General Assemply attempted to ban or at least cripple the slave trade in 1833 with the Non-Importation Act, which banned the importation of slaves into The Commonwealth for the purpose of selling them. The slave trade was outlawed in 1964 but the Cheapside market continued to flourish until 1922 when it was declared a public nuisance and banned.
Future President Abraham Lincoln was visiting his wife's family in 1846 when her father, Robert Todd, purchased five slaves at Cheapside. Lincoln may have been present during the auction.
The earliest reference to the name dates to 1813 in an advertisement for Todd and Smith Wholesale Grocery, owned by Mary Todd Lincoln's father Robert Smith Todd. That building is now occupied by a bourbon bar known as The Bluegrass Tavern. The name Cheapside is originally borrowed from a history marketplace in London England. The name is a common English street name meaning "market place" from Old English ceapan 'to buy'. Cheapside was a common reference in England, and is frequently referenced in literature.