Pike Place Market
Travel Tips USA

30 things to know about Pike Place Market in Seattle

02/05/2017

Last updated on February 29th, 2020 at 10:25 am

Famous for its fishmongers produce stalls, craft stands, and specialty food shops, but I recently learned that there’s so much more to Pike Place Market than meets the eye.

Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington. The Market is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States.

“It’s just a farmers market, there’s nothing special about this place. Why is it even a tourist attraction?” – Me (before my tour with Savor Seattle)

Where is Pike Place Market

Place Market Historical District Boundaries: 9 acres, stretching from mid-block south of Pike Street, northward to Virginia Street (4 blocks north), and Western to First Avenues.

30 Facts about Pike Place Market in Seattle

1. Before the Market

Before the creation of the Pike Place Market in 1907, local Seattle area farmers sold their goods to the public in a three-square block area called The Lots, located at Sixth Avenue and King Street.

2. The Name

It’s Pike Place Market NOT Pike’s Place of Pike Market. It was named after the street and not a person.

3. It’s 112 years old 

2020marks 112 years of the market’s existence making Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously-running public farmers’ market in the US.

4. First Building at the Market

The Main Arcade, opened November 30, 1907.

5. Working Hours at Pike Place Market

During the early years of the Pike Place Market, Seattle city ordinances limited its hours of operation to only 5 am to 12 noon, Monday through Saturday.

6. Rent

The daily rent for any stall in 1911 was $0.20 a day.

7. Property Management

The Public Market & Department Store Company was founded in 1911 by the Goodwins to manage their Pike Place Market properties.

8. Full-Time Jobs were created

In 1911, an Inspector was employed to collect daily fees from the farmers

9. The second building was complete

In 1912, the Corner Market building was completed, across the street from the Bartell Building, which would later become the Economy Market.

10. Pike Place goes Commercial

In 1914, new space was created for several restaurants, bakeries, a creamery, butchers, additional stalls and rows in the lower sections for farmers to sell their goods, grain markets, public toilets, two floors dedicated to storage of meats and produce, 100 retail stores, a theater, and a printing plant.

11. World War I

In 1917, with America taking part in World War I, more and more women began to work the various stalls and shops in the Market as their husbands went to war.

12. Fish Market

The city opened its municipal-owned City Fish Market at Pike Place Market, cutting the cost of salmon by a third.

13. First strike

In February 1919, nearly all of Seattle’s labor unions took part in a work stoppage, which lasted five days, during which the Market was nearly deserted. It would become the longest period of inactivity in the history of the Pike Place Market.

14. Traffic Complaints

In September 1920, the Seattle City Council quietly passed an ordinance that farmer’s stalls at the Market could no longer be placed in the street, in response to complaints from some local businesses about traffic flow.

15. No Middle Men

One of the most wonderful things about Pike Place is that the farmers sell goods directly to consumers – so no more middlemen!

16.Internment Camps

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, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 February 19, 1942, which eventually forced all Americans of Japanese ancestry in an “exclusion zone”.

17. Pike Plaza

In 1963, there was a proposal to demolish Pike Place Market and replace it with Pike Plaza, which would include a hotel, an apartment building, four office buildings, a hockey arena, and a parking garage.

18. Almost Demolished

In May 1971, the Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the green light for urban renewal; this meant the market would be demolished but “Friend of the Market” started a petition which Seattle voters approved and this led creation of Pike Place Historic District and the preservation its buildings and character.

19.  The Market Hero

Victor Steinbrueck was the man who started the “Friends of the Market” group who prevented the Markets destruction in 1971. He is also one of the three architects that designed the Space Needle and today there is a Victor Steinbrueck Park up the road from the Pike Place Market.

20. Whose name’s are on the tiles?

[instagram URL=https://instagram.com/p/BP8lkwCFyGH/]

21. Who owns Pike Place Market

In the 1980s, federal welfare reform squeezed the social services based in the Market. As a result, a nonprofit group, the Pike Place Market Foundation, was established by the PDA to raise funds and administer the Market’s free clinic, senior center, low-income housing, and a childcare center.

22. Residents

Pike Place Market is home to nearly 500 residents who live in 8 different buildings throughout the Market.

23. The Perfect Catch

Fishmongers have been throwing fish to each other for decades in this small shop just off Seattle’s downtown waterfront at Pike Place Market. And for a long time, they have allowed guests to try their luck at catching, too.

24. Rachel The Pig

In 1986 Rachel, a bronze pig (and charity piggy bank), was unveiled in the center of the market and becomes its leading photo opportunity. Weighing in at 550 pounds (250 kg), Rachel was named after a real 750-pound pig who won the 1985 Island County Fair.

25. Rachel’s Cousin

Her cousin, Billie the Piggy Bank, arrived in the Market in 2011 and sits on Western Avenue at the bottom of the Hillclimb.

26. Most Fun Place 

In 1991, CNN named the Pike Place Fish Market as one of the three most fun places to work in America.

27. There’s a gooey gum wall

Pike Place market

The Gum Wall is a 15 feet brick wall covered in used chewing gum since 1993. In November 2015 the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority decided to clean the wall, it took 130 hours to complete, with over 2,350 pounds (1,070 kg) of gum removed and disposed of. Within 24 hours of completion, people started placing gum on the wall again

28. Be a “Busker”

“Busker” is an English term for street performers. You’ll find a wide-ranging variety of buskers here at the Market, performing with instruments and tools ranging from spoons, whistles, and puppets to violins. Buskers enrich the Market’s already vibrant cultural community.

There are 13 locations throughout the Market where performers can entertain Market shoppers for an hour at a time. Painted musical notes mark the sidewalks where they stand, and the number painted on the note corresponds to the number of performers that can play there at one time.

New performers are always welcome at the Market. Due to the historic nature of the Market, horns, percussion, and amplified music are not permitted. All Market performers are required to purchase a performer’s badge.

To perform at the Market, visit the Market office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 4 pm to apply. The cost is $30 for an annual permit.

29. First Starbucks at Pike Place Market

The Starbucks at the Pike Place Market isn’t the first Starbucks. It’s actually the fourth one, but it is the first where they sold coffee and not just beans. The original Starbucks was a block or so away, but unfortunately, it burned down

30. REAL Greek Yogurt

You probably think the Greek yogurt you like is the best you’ve ever had. I bet this yogurt will change your opinion of that!

Pike Place Market

Ellenos works with local farmers to source its milk, which is then transformed into creamy, slightly tart, slightly sweet and entirely rich Greek yogurt, thanks to a secret blend of probiotics.

Favorite flavors include marionberry, passionfruit, and lemon curd, but be warned: after eating at Ellenos, you may never look at your local grocer’s dairy aisle the same way again.

31. Urban Garden

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market Urban Garden is a rooftop garden that provides fresh fruits and veggies to the Food Bank and Senior Center. In 2013, the garden logged over 700 volunteer hours and produced over 20lbs of food. The Urban garden is open for all to visit, relax and enjoy the sun.

32. Daily Dozen Doughnuts

Pike place Market FactsKnown for their heavenly cinnamon mini doughnuts. What most people don’t know is that if they have leftovers at the end of the day, they leave them on their counter for someone who might need a pick me up.

33. Best Mac & Cheese you’ll ever have

Treat yourself to a dairy-filled indulgence at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, where their Flagship cow’s milk cheese is aged to perfection for at least 12 months before being released to the public.

Stock up on cheese curds or an artisan creation like the No Woman, flavored with Jamaican jerk spices, and before you go, order a side of the mac and cheese, which will show you why it’s called “World’s Best Mac and Cheese” with just one bite.

34. Tourist Attraction

With 10 million visitors annually, Pike Place Market is #33 on the world’s most visited tourist attractions list.

Travel Insurance for Seattle

Use travel insurance while visiting Seattle so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in Seattle, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.

Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

7 Comments

  • Sheena Leong
    02/11/2017 at 12:38 PM

    I’ve been to Pike Place but wow, I didn’t know all these facts & figures, this is so comprehensive! I’m hoping to visit Seattle again in the summer so now I can feel like a much more informed visitor! 🙂

  • Baskets Life Travel
    02/10/2017 at 11:46 PM

    OH this place looks awesome! Thank you for the history I always think it is more fun see things when you know the history – and I love Rachel the pig, and who doesn’t love Starbucks, donuts and handmade cheese YUM! I need to get here!

  • msculit Ria C riatravelbug.com
    02/10/2017 at 9:39 AM

    Thanks for the information and the grand tour of Seattle. 🙂 Honestly, I know only few things about Seattle, being a rainy place, where Starbucks originated (is it?), and the Boeing factory. 🙂 With that said, I am glad I don’t have to research about the place. This info is a big help.

  • Sam Sparrow
    02/10/2017 at 1:02 AM

    I absolutely ADORE visiting markets, and this one looks amazing. We have lots of historical markets in the UK, but it is so special to know this place is 109 years old! What a fantastic spot – thanks for sharing!

  • thetravelingstorygirl
    02/09/2017 at 3:20 PM

    These are all such good things to know! It’s my boyfriend’s dream to go to Seattle and I hope to surprise hime with a trip here. This will be very helpful, thank you!

  • Pascal Panagiotidis / Truevoyagers
    02/09/2017 at 11:09 PM

    It’s always interesting to visit farmers markets especially if you are a foodie. There are so many things to see and food to taste in a market like this. Being Greek myself, I’d love to visit and check what the American Greek yogurt tastes like! 🙂

  • LC of Birdgehls
    02/09/2017 at 7:44 PM

    Pretty crazy how old the market is! I’m glad it didn’t get demolished in the 70s. Visited Seattle a few years ago and loved the market – would happily go back again!

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