City of Seattle is founded on Puget Sound.
With consumers howling over a spike in the price of farm goods, Seattle officials earmark Pike Place, a newly planked street near the waterfront, as a spot for farmers to bypass middlemen and sell to the public.
Rushing to capitalize on public demand, developer Frank Goodwin constructs and opens a building next to Pike Place with 76 produce stalls. Over the next few years, the city adds facilities, and private developers put up several rival market buildings clustered around Pike Place.
European and Asian immigrant farmers fill many of the stalls; in fact, most of the farm vendors are Japanese Americans. City Fish, the market’s first fishmonger, opens shop.
Some 627 farmers sell at the market, drawing 25,000 shoppers on a typical weekday. A 1927 city directory shows seven delicatessens, eight fish dealers, five florists, 31 meat markets and six tea and coffee dealers.
Two dramatic neon Public Market signs, one of them with a clock, are added.
Despite the Depression, the market thrives, with 40,000 to 50,000 visitors on some Saturdays.
After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. orders Japanese Americans into internment camps, including more than half of Pike Place’s farm vendors. More than a third will never return to Seattle. Upstairs in the market complex, a madam named Nellie Curtis establishes the LaSalle Hotel as a bordello that will last into the early 1950s.
1940s and ’50s
As supermarkets and suburbs grow, the market fades. By 1949, just 53 farmers hold permits to sell at the market.
An urban renewal plan calls for demolition of the market area. The mayor and both major local newspapers support it, but a preservation campaign led by the Friends of the Market gains momentum.
Starbucks opens at Western Avenue and Pike Place, offering whole beans and coffee-making equipment. In 1976, it moves to 1912 Pike Place, where it eventually starts selling cups of coffee.
Seattle voters approve creation of Pike Place Historic District and a public agency to preserve its buildings and character. The city buys 14 buildings.
The market, now managed by the nonprofit Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, begins a decade of upgrades, including construction of five buildings. Spending on improvements amounts to $135 million, including $75 million in private investment.
Rachel, a bronze pig (and charity piggy bank), is unveiled in the center of the market and becomes its leading photo opportunity.
The state starts construction of a tunnel and surface streets to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct (Washington 99), the double-deck highway that looms between Pike Place Market and Puget Sound. Completion target is 2016.