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Pike Place Market Travel Guide

Pike Place Market is a historic landmark of Seattle, encompassing a 9-acre site. It is celebrated for its colorful personalities and abundance of local produce. You’ll find not only a great waterfront view at Pike Place, but also a host of fish and chip joints, seafood restaurants, specialty groceries, fresh seafood stands, bakery shops, and art galleries. The most iconic sight of Pike Place is the “Public Market Center” neon sign and clock, which has been around since 1927.[1]

Pike Place Market first opened in 1907 to allow farmers to sell directly to the public. During its heyday in the 1930s, the market was packed with hundreds of farmers selling produce. Pike Place fell into hard times during WWII, as the majority of the sellers prior to the war were Japanese Americans; their forced internment eliminated most of the market’s sellers. After WWII, the decline of Pike Place continued as supermarkets in the suburbs became the new way of selling produce. When it was slated to be torn down and redeveloped in the late 1960s, lobbyists fought successfully to make it a historic district.

The heart of Pike Place is the Main Arcade and the North Arcade where fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and products from locally grown farmers are hawked. Each morning, the Market Master does a roll call assigning stalls to craftspeople and farmers based on seniority – this role and routine dates back to 1911. Vendors, as a result, sell their goods from different stalls every day. The North Arcade consists of dry tables used by craftspeople and wet tables used by farmers.[2]

One of the main features of Pike Place Market is Pike Place Fish. This is the market’s most recognized seafood vendor, located beneath the Pike Place Market landmark sign and clock. The stall draws huge crowds and features a fishmonger who is loud and high-spirited, tossing fish over the heads of coworkers and spectators. The seafood sold here is fresh and you can buy everything from trout, to wild king salmon, to Dungeness crab.[3]

Brewer, Stephen, Constance Brissenden, and Anita Carmin. Pacific Northwest. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 2003. ISBN: 0789496801.

[1] Brewer, 131-33
[2] Id. at 134
[3] Id.

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