The campaign was the culmination of more than eight years of controversy over the Central Association's efforts to replace the market with offices, hotels and parking garages. The City of Seattle adopted a scaled back urban renewal plan that preserved a 1.7-acre "core" Market.
Preservationists led by architect and University of Washington faculty member Victor Steinbrueck (1911-1985), organized "Friends of the Market" and collected signatures for Proposition 1 to protect the entire 17-acre Market district. A second group, the "Alliance for a Living Market" joined the Friends. The Central Association, representing downtown businesses, started the "Committee to Save the Market" to oppose the initiative.
The controversy ended when Seattle voters sided with preservationists and voted to "save" the entire Market district.