Welcome to Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington
Welcome to the "Other" Washington
Nestled in the northwest corner of the “lower 48” is Washington State which is:
- where you will find Mount Rainier
- home of the Space Needle
- the mecca for software companies
- location of the original Starbucks
- the birthplace of grunge music
- the backdrop for the Twilight series
- location of the 2015 U.S. Open.
…and where you will find Pike Place Market.
The Simple Facts
Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is a year-round farmers’ market in the heart of the Seattle waterfront. Within this nine-acre historic area you will find produce stands, fish markets, butcher shops, owner-operated bakeries, and crafts markets—over 200 unique owner-operated shops. In addition there are over 80 restaurants, everything from casual take-out to the finest in dining. There is definitely something for everyone.
A Bit of History
Since the Market is over 100 years old, I thought I would provide a bit of background. If you are into history, keep reading; if not, feel free to skip to the next section.
The advent of Pike Place Market was a rebellion of local farmers against the dishonest behavior of “commission houses”—the middlemen between growers and customers. Farmers claimed that commission buyers would offer a high price, and then when the produce was delivered would pay a much lower price. Even worse, the middlemen would buy on consignment and pay for only the produce that was sold, claiming spoilage—in truth, they would sell it all and pocket the difference.
According to a story recorded in the Seattle Daily News:
In July 1907, responding to farmer and consumer complaints, the Seattle City Council led by Thomas P. Revelle passed an ordinance to establish a farmers' market at Pike Place that allowed farmers to sell directly to the public and to eliminate the middlemen commission houses. The Seattle Department of Streets planked an area west of 1st Avenue on Pike Place so farmers could set up their wagons and carts and sell their produce. Then the City of Seattle issued a proclamation designating August 17, 1907, as "Market Day."
In the early morning hours of Saturday August 17, the sky was overcast and the streets were still wet from the previous night’s rain when farmer H. O. Blanchard arrived with his horse-drawn wagon full of produce from Renton. About 50 people were waiting for him, and Blanchard sold out quickly. Two more farmers arrived a half hour later. One of the wagons, operated by a Japanese farmer, was immediately overwhelmed. Someone jumped onto the wagon and started giving the goods away to the crowd. The other farmer was able to keep the crowd at bay long enough to sell out his produce.
Commission houses had threatened to boycott farmers who sold at Pike Place. Thus, only about eight farmers brought in goods for sale and by 11 a.m. hundreds if not thousands of consumers went home disappointed.
Word spread quickly among farmers about the crowds of consumers that attended. On Monday August 19, 10 farmers sold at the new market; the following day 20 showed up. By Saturday August 24, some 70 wagons filled up Pike Place with farm produce for sale.
That autumn, John and Frank Goodwin erected the first farmer’s market building, and on November 30, 1907, more than 120 farmers set up in the covered stalls. Japanese farmers operated 70-80 percent of the stalls and Italians ran virtually all of the rest.
General Market Hours
- Breakfast: 6 am
- Fresh Produce & Seafood: 7 am
- Official Market Bell: 9 am
- Crafts Market: 10 am-4 pm
- Merchant Hours: 10 am-6 pm
- Restaurants: 6 am-1:30 am; varies
The Market is open 363 days a year, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Things to See and Do
I asked my family for their best memories of Pike Place Market—the things that stand out in their memory of the best places to go, and things to see and do.
My daughter (the vegetarian) instantly thought of the cheese shops and the little café that sells Russian pieroges.
My husband remembered the buskers (street mimes, clowns, jugglers, and musicians).
I love the produce stands—the variety and quality are amazing.
And everyone loves the famous flying fish!
Pike Place Market is Waiting for You
Art for sale, beauty and health products, cheeses, chocolates, deli goods, fashion wear for all ages, fish and seafood, flowers, meats, produce, tea--the list goes on and on. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Best time to visit Mornings before 12 pm are generally less crowded. Less-visited times are late fall, winter and early spring, other than holidays. During peak summer months, weekday mornings are optimal times to visit.
Disability / Stroller Access Most buildings and shops are accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. The Market does not have stroller or wheelchair rentals. Elevator access to the Market is available from the waterfront, Western Ave and parking garage.
Lockers for storage of luggage? Pike Place Market is not able to offer any lockers or storage. If you are a cruise-line passenger or a guest in a local hotel, we suggest checking with concierge services on the ship or at your hotel.
Lodging in or near the Market? There are two lodging options within Pike Place Market historic district proper: Inn at the Market and Pension Nichols Bed & Breakfast. For other downtown lodging options, please visit www.visitseattle.org.
Parking The easiest and most convenient place to park at the Market is the Public Market Parking Garage at 1531 Western Ave.
Pets Pets are not allowed in Market buildings, including the Main Arcade. Only trained service animals are permitted within Market buildings.
RV Parking The parking garage and parking lots cannot accommodate RVs. There is RV parking available on surface lots directly across from the Seattle Aquarium on the east side of the 1500 block of Alaskan Way. This is within easy walking distance of the Market.
The Market was renovated last year. Here are the details.
© 2015 Linda Lum