Sweetgrass baskets still sit on blankets. Horse-drawn carriages continue to clop by every few minutes, and there are still plenty of fanny packs.

But those returning to the open-air sheds of Charleston's City Market also will notice a lot of changes these days.

The people behind their recent and rapid renovation hope they feel a sense of addition through subtraction.

Today's market has fewer aisles inside the two central sheds and far fewer parking spaces alongside them. Some floor space has been taken from vendors to create new cross aisles halfway down, making the sheds easier to enter and exit.

All those things were taken away in hopes something else would be added to the new and improved market: local residents.

After all, the City Market was begun here in 1807 by and for locals, and it remained that way as the current brick sheds were built one by one during the early 19th century to replace the original wooden ones.

The market remained a place for locals through the 20th century. Hank Holliday, a partner in the Charleston Market Preservation Trust, remembers coming here as a child to buy shrimp, tomatoes and sweetgrass baskets.

"It's a shame that was lost," he says. "We want it back."

The renovation, designed by architect Glenn Keyes and executed at a lightning pace (4 1/2 months) by Hightower Construction, also added a lot.

Vendors now have uniform, clear screens to protect them from wind and rain. New goose-neck lamps light up their spaces, while hidden up-lighting shows off the brightly painted ceiling trusses above. There are three times as many ceiling fans as before to ensure there's a breeze even when nature is still.

Keyes also says the timber ceiling is tied together with metal plates and firmly anchored into the brick piers to prevent the next hurricane from lifting off the roof.

The work also added large new public restrooms inside the easternmost shed, chipping away at a problem that has discomforted downtown for decades.

But perhaps the most dramatic additions are the counters along the sheds' sides, where vendors vans once parked all day.

Keyes says old photographs show the counters existed at an earlier time. "We were trying to stay true to the historical record," he says. "At first, the vendors hated the idea (of counters). Now, they love it."

The work -- the first major redo in decades -- also included a lot of plain old maintenance, such as re-pointing 92,000 square feet of brick, re-laying the thousands of pan tiles on the roof and repairing rotten wood.

Steve Varn, another partner in the trust, says the group consulted national experts to ensure the changes would make the market more appealing and profitable.

For instance, the decision to remove vendor tables from the center not only exposed a long-hidden bluestone walkway, but the 9-foot-wide center aisle is a more relaxed place than the two narrow side aisles it replaced.

"There's a fine line between making it impersonal (too wide) and congested (too narrow)," Varn says.

Vendor Louise Harris, 92, says she's worked in the market for 25 years and loves its roomier feel, adding, "This is so nice to have some room where people can walk around."

If it seems less crowded, maybe more of us will go there.