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Bernie Agor Matsuno, Director
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Pike Place Market Historical District

In 1907 the Seattle City Council designated the newly-planked Pike Place as a public market area where citizens could purchase fresh farm produce directly from local growers. On August 17, 1907 the first rainy Saturday it was open for business, the 8 farmers who came that day quickly sold everything they had brought to the crowd of nearly 10,000 eager shoppers. Only three months later, 120 farmers were selling from wagons lined up along Pike Place. By the end of the year a long narrow shed that contained 76 stalls for farmers and food vendors was being constructed to provide some protection from the weather. Rents ranged from $4 to $25 a month.

By 1917 much of the Market we know today was constructed - the Economy Market, Corner Market, Sanitary Market, and the lower levels of the Main Market. The Market continued to grow and thrive during the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s.

During World War II business at the Market began to decline. In 1941 the Sanitary Market was severely damaged by fire. With the internment of Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Market lost more than half its farmers. Following the war, the Market's decline continued. Many younger people decided not to return to farming. Farmland in the Duwamish and Green River Valleys became increasingly industrialized. Supermarket chains began luring away customers. By the 1960s there were fewer than 100 farmers selling at the Market and the number of customers was at an all-time low.

In 1963 consultant Donald Monson prepared a plan for Seattle's downtown that recommended the modernization of the Market area into the Pike Plaza. The development was to feature office towers, apartments, and parking structures, with a much smaller, updated market. When public outcry urged preservation of the Market, a revised urban renewal plan was drawn up. As these new plans were publicized, citizen opposition to the proposed demolition of the Market increased. Spearheaded by architect Victor Steinbrueck, a group called "Friends of the Market" was formed and worked with other citizen organizations to put the issue of the Market's future on the November, 1971 ballot. That day, 73,369 people voted to preserve the Market and 53,264 opposed the initiative measure.

As a result, a seven-acre National Register of Historic Places and local Market Historical District was created to preserve the Market's core and a larger 22-acre area was established to provide opportunities for redevelopment and new construction. During the extensive ten-year restoration and redevelopment effort that followed, $50 million in public investment and $100 million in private money was channeled into the Market which is today a healthy, bustling community of merchants and residents.

Historic Districts

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