Get Smart

A Pike Place Market Primer

Have a question about the market, but you've lived in Seattle too long to ask? There's a Q&A list for that.

By Stefan Milne June 19, 2018 Published in the July 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Amber Fouts

Why do some places sell stuff that’s not local?

Pike Place is three markets in one: a public market (where business owners are local, but sales restrictions are looser) and a farmers market and a crafts market (both of which stay local). Lament the decidedly non-Northwest limes piled in produce stands if you must, but who wants to swing by in February and find only potatoes and beets?

How’d the gum wall start?

In the early 1990s crowds waiting in line to catch shows at the Market Theater started sticking gum to the walls (improv folk aren’t known for their decorum) and people kept at it. In 2015 a steam cleaning removed a literal ton of Wrigley’s and Dubble Bubble. But, much like life, gum finds a way.

Why can you drive on Pike Place?

Cars inching through the pedestrian throng on the market’s main drag might seem hazardous. But in over 100 years, no one’s been significantly hurt by traffic, and this being a functioning market, trucks need to make deliveries throughout the day. The better question is—why would you drive on Pike Place?

What’s up with the bathrooms?

It’s a public market and they’re free. Deal with it.

On that note, why’s that sign say, “Sanitary Public Market”?

Opened in 1910, the Sanitary Public Market (the stretch along First Ave) was thus branded because it didn’t allow live animals like chickens and oysters inside. Meaning, yup, other parts did.

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