The Pike Place Market has been called the "heart of Seattle." The market began in 1907 with several farmers' carts. Housewives flocked to buy directly from farmers to escape the mark-ups added by wholesalers at the commission houses on Western Avenue. The market expanded to include more than a dozen buildings and thrived until the 1940s.
In 1942 the market community was shaken when Japanese farmers, who accounted for more than three-quarters of the sellers, were sent to internment camps. The market declined in the 1950s and 1960s as more people drove to supermarkets. By the 1960s the buildings were dilapidated and developers proposed replacing the market buildings with office towers and parking garages. A public outcry led to a voter initiative that resulted in the market becoming one of the first historic districts in the nation.
The market’s buildings were renovated, and some new buildings were added as housing and offices were integrated into the market community. Voters recently approved another renovation which will update mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and add restrooms and elevators. Both the market's appearance and its uses are strictly regulated. No chain stores are allowed--except for the two that started here--Starbucks and Sur la Table. In recent years, more of the sellers have been craft makers and florists,but produce and other food items are still popular as more Seattleites choose to live downtown.
Read the Pike Place Market National Register of Historic Places nomination. (27.6mb pdf)
First Avenue and Pike Street (1mb mp3)
Find this building on our walking tour map. (680kb pdf)
This site is dedicated to the history of Seattle's downtown and waterfront, especially the State Route 99 / Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor. It was developed by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration as an educational resource and as part of a Memorandum of Agreement for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (pdf 1mb).
Copyright 2011 Washington State Department of Transportation