Its nine acres and more than a century of operation encompass thousands of fascinating stories — tales of immigration, internment, renovation and urban renewal — all that help explain why Pike Place Market is called “The Soul of Seattle.”
Here is a snapshot of how the Market came to be. Between 1906 and 1907, the cost of onions increased tenfold. Outraged citizens, fed up with paying price-gouging middlemen too much for their produce, found a hero in Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle. Revelle proposed a public street market that would connect farmers directly with consumers. Customers would “Meet the Producer” directly, a philosophy that is still the foundation of all Pike Place Market businesses.
On August 17, 1907, Pike Place Market was born. On that first day, a total of eight farmers brought their wagons to the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street—and were quickly overwhelmed by an estimated 10,000 eager shoppers. By 11:00 am, they were sold out. Thousands of would-be customers went home empty-handed, but the chaos held promise. By the end of 1907, the first Market building opened, with every space filled.
A century later, Pike Place Market is internationally recognized as America’s premier farmers’ market and is home to more than 200 year-round commercial businesses; 190 craftspeople and approximately 100 farmers who rent table space by the day; 240 street performers and musicians; and more than 300 apartment units, most of which provide housing for low-income elderly people. “The Market,” as the locals affectionately say, attracts 10 million visitors a year, making it one of Washington state’s most frequently visited destinations.
Here are some photos I took of Pike Place Market, July 2011.
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