(©LWYang/Flickr, Creative Commons)
Frustration over the price of onions led to the creation of Pike Place Market—citizens were outraged at a ten-fold price increase, leading to the creation of the market on a vacant wooden roadway in 1907. The market has since seen its ups and downs, including nearly losing the entire thing to developers in the 1960s. It was saved by a voter-approved initiative in 1971, and today is growing for the first time in 40 years, with the new MarketFront, which will convert a parking lot on Western Ave. into a public plaza and space for even more farmers, craftspeople and artists.
More than just a farmers market, Pike Place Market is a community—there is low-income housing, social services, a theater, numerous artists and craftspeople and small, independent businesses that have often been passed down the generations. Made up of multiple buildings, the Market is a maze—getting lost is half the fun of exploring here.
The Pike Place Market District extends from Western Ave. to First Ave. and Virginia St. to just beyond Pike St. Enter from the corner of First Ave. and Pike St. to get the iconic shot of the historic Public Market Center clock and neon sign: It’s been greeting people at the entrance since the late 1930s. Also at that entrance, Rachel the pig, the bronze piggy bank whose dollars and change go to the Market Foundation. Directly behind Rachel, the famous Pike Place Fish guys—this is where you’ll see them throwing fish.
In addition to the Main Arcade, be sure to explore other spots in the district, including Post Alley, the Pike Street Hillclimb, the Sanitary Market, Corner Market and Economy Market. As you’re exploring, you’ll notice music notes painted on the sidewalk—those are designated busker areas. The musicians you see are permitted and allowed to play an hour at a time.
Highlights and Tips:
- If it's possible, start exploring in the morning before the market fills with visitors and locals.
- The famous fish throwers are at the Pike Street entrance, just behind Rachel the Pig. Her cousin, Billie, sits at Western Ave. at the foot of the Hillclimb.
- If you don't want to wait in line at the first Starbucks, snap a photo and grab your coffee at the Starbucks at First Ave. and Pike St. The coffee is the same, though the Pike Place Market location has merchandise not found elsewhere.