Voters preserve Seattle's historic Pike Place Market on November 2, 1971.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/27/1999
  • Essay 1426

On November 2, 1971, Seattle voters approve Initiative No. 1, which establishes a large historic district to "preserve, improve and restore the Pike Place Market" and "prohibit alterations, demolition, or construction" without approval of a 12 member commission. The measure passes by a vote of 76,369 to 53,264, a three-to-two majority, and ends an eight-year controversy over the fate of the Market.

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.


Alice Shorett and Murray Morgan, The Pike Place Market: People, Politics, and Produce (Seattle: Pacific Search Press, 1982); Jack P. Evans, Little History of the Pike Place Market (Seattle: SCW Publications, 1984); Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 13, 1969, p. 11; The Seattle Times, November 3, 1971, pp. A-1, B-6. File updated and vote count corrected on August 16, 2006.

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