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Pike Place Market Centennial - Home
Birth of the Market
Early Expansion
Traffic and the Fate of the Market
The City's Role as Overseer
Farmers and the Market
Japanese Farmers and Race Relations
The Aging of the Market
Plans for Change
Citizen Protests
Initiative 1
Rehabilitating the Market
The Market Revitalized
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Pike Place Market Centennial

Japanese Farmers and Race Relations

Japanese immigrant farmers brought expertise in small plot farming and through industriousness were often able to charge lower prices for their produce. Given the racial sensibilities of the time and the fierce competition between farmers at the market, there were numerous movements in the early days to remove or restrict the Japanese farmers. Official complaints were often couched in patriotism (asserting that only native born citizens should be allowed to sell their goods) or fairness (accusing many of the Japanese of cheating by being 'dummy' tenants and selling produce from other farms).

The City Council introduced a resolution in 1910 forbidding non-citizen farmers at the market, but opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and a threatened legal challenge from the Japanese consulate prevented its passage. Instead, the lottery assigning stalls was changed so that odd-numbered stalls were assigned to Japanese farmers and even-numbered stalls assigned to everyone else. This pushed many Japanese to the least desirable area in the back of the market.

Pressure to remove or lessen the Japanese presence persisted in the 1920s, through demands for the creation of the Westlake "whites only" farmers market, or by trying to ban produce grown in greenhouses. The Japanese continued to make up the majority of farmers at the market until their removal and internment during World War II.

Japanese protest
Japanese protest
flower stall
Flower stall
produce stand
Produce stand

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