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Pike Place Market History

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 Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating market in the nation. It was established
in 1907 to give local farmers a place to sell their fruit and vegetables and bypass the middleman. Soon, the greengrocers made room for fishmongers, bakers, ethnic groceries, butchers, cheese sellers and purveyors of the rest of the Northwest's agricultural bounty. The market wasn't exactly architecturally robust - it's always been a throw-together series of sheds and stalls, haphazardly designed for utility - and was by no means an intentional tourist attraction. That came later.
An enthusiastic agricultural community spawned the market's heyday in the 1930s. Many of the first farmers were immigrants, a fact the market celebrates with annual themes acknowledging the contributions of various ethnic groups; past years have featured Japanese Americans, Italian Americans and Sephardic Jews.
 

PIKE PLACE MARKET SEATTLE | PIKE PLACE MARKET ARCADES | PIKE PLACE MARKET DOWN UNDER | PIKE PLACE HISTORY  |  PIKE PLACE MARKET POST ALLEY  | PIKE PLACE SOUTH ARCADE  |  PIKE PLACE TRIANGLE BUILDING  | PIKE PLACE VICTOR STEINBRUECK | SANITARY MARKET BUILDINGS  |  ECONOMY MARKET BUILDING  | GETTING AROUND PIKE PLACE


By the 1960s sales at the market were suffering from suburbanization, the growth of supermarkets and the move away from local, small-scale market gardening. Vast tracts of agricultural land were disappearing, replaced by such ventures as the Northgate Mall and the Sea-Tac airport. The internment of Japanese American farmers during WWII had also taken its toll. The entire area became a bowery for the destitute and a center for prostitution and peep shows.
In the wake of the 1962 World's Fair, plans were drawn up to bulldoze the market and build high-rise office and apartment buildings on this piece of prime downtown real estate. Fortunately, public outcry prompted a voter's initiative to save the market. Subsequently, the space was cleaned up and restructured, and it has become once again the undeniable heart and soul of downtown; some 10 million people mill through the market each year. Thanks to the unique management of the market, social services programs and low-income housing mixed with the market commerce, the market has maintained its gritty edge. These initiatives have prevented the area from ever sliding too far upscale. A market law denies chain stores or franchises from opening up shop and ensures all businesses are locally owned. The one exception is, of course, Starbucks, which gets away with its market location because it marks the coffee giant's first (it opened in 1971).

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