This iconic sign, at the foot of Pike Street, is the marker for one of Seattle’s oldest and most iconic sights. Still Pike Market’s beginnings were very humble and born out of a utilitarian purpose.
In the late 1800s Seattle’s population began to blow up—between 1890 and 1900 Seattle’s population grew by almost forty thousand heads to end up at 82,000 people by the end of the decade. All of these people created a huge demand for the fresh fruits and produce that was grown by the farmers surrounding the city. Initially they brought their goods to Seattle and sold them to the wholesalers located on Western Avenue who, in turn, sold them to the public. As you can imagine under this system only the wholesalers were turning any kind of profit. The farmers were usually loosing money or, if they were lucky, they were breaking even. The residents of the city had little control over the prices and where forced to pay whatever the wholesalers charged.
By 1907 the situation was becoming critical—farmers were growing increasingly poorer and citizens were frustrated by continually being gouged for staples. Finally, in the summer of that year, Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle brought up the idea of creating a public farmers market that would allow citizens and farmers to meet face-to-face and push the wholesalers to the side. Pike Market opened to the public on August 17th, 1907 with eight farmers showing their wares. By the end of the first day 10,000 citizens had descended on the market had cleaned them all out. Within a week seventy wagons were gathering daily to sell their wares and the number of vendors, and buyers, has only gone up since then.
Now in 2015 on any daily of the week, at any time of year, you can find around one hundred farmers, one-hundred-and-ninety craftsmen, and two hundred businesses all sharing their wares at the Market. On the lower floors of the Market you can find the stores and the upper street-level is where you can find the farmers and craftsmen along with the famous fish markets. The restaurants that have helped to make Pike Market famous are spread throughout the whole area. This is also the area where, if you’re a coffee fan, you’ll find the original Starbucks store. Running along the upper level of the Market is Post Alley where a variety of restaurants and comedy clubs can be found along with the Gum Wall.
The Market is open daily from 10am to 6pm though the craftsmen and farmers usually are closed down by 4pm. Any day is a good day to stop by the Market! Have fun out there!