Pike Place Market (Seattle) Tour

  • Posted 10/20/2012
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7053
Info Booth, 1st & Pike Under the Clock Stairs to the Lower Market Main Market North Arcade Victor Steinbrueck Park Pike Place and Virginia Street Pike Place and Stewart Street The Sanitary Market The Corner Market
This is a photographic tour of Seattle's Pike Place Market. Also available as a printable walking tour (PDF format). Prepared by Walt Crowley and produced by Chris Goodman and Marie McCaffrey. Presented by the City of Seattle, Office of Economic Development, Tourism Division. Names of businesses are cited for orientation and information purposes only and do not imply recommendation or endorsement by the City of Seattle or by HistoryLink. Note: The Pike Place Market tour was extensively updated in October 2012.

Introduction

Many consider the Pike Place Market to be the seat of Seattle's "soul." It is located between 1st and Western avenues and Pike and Virginia streets, and a short walk from downtown Seattle's retail and hotel district. The "Pike Street Hillclimb" connects it to the Seattle Aquarium and central waterfront via a system of stairs and elevators. Ample parking can be found along Western Avenue with elevator and skybridge connections to the Market.

History

On the morning of Saturday, August 17, 1907, hundreds of shoppers mobbed a few dozen farmers' carts at the foot of downtown's Pike Street (named for Seattle pioneer and builder John Pike). This first "public market" was held to cut out greedy middlemen who drove up the prices of local produce, and it was an instant hit with farmers and consumers alike.

Developer Frank Goodwin, who had recently returned with a small fortune from the Klondike Gold Rush, saw money in all those greens and began construction of the permanent arcades that make up the heart of today's market. The market prospered during the 1920s and 1930s, and was home to a lively mix of Japanese and Italian American farmers, struggling artists such as Mark Tobey, political radicals, and miscellaneous eccentrics.

Italian farmer Joe Desimone purchased the Market's main arcades in 1941 and guided it through World War II, when 1st Avenue's "Tenderloin" attracted thousands of sailors and soldiers along with ration-book bargain hunters. As suburbs and supermarkets sprouted after World War II, the Pike Place Market fell on bad times, while still supporting an eclectic community of artists and crafts people.

When the maze of aging buildings was slated for demolition in the 1960s, architect Victor Steinbrueck rallied Seattle to "Save the Market." Voters approved a 17-acre historic district on November 2, 1971, and the City of Seattle later established a Public Development Authority to rehabilitate and manage the Market's core buildings.


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