If you want to sample Seattle's singularity among other American cities, the Pike Place Market is the place to go. Situated in Seattle's downtown, this historical and colorful market is a true institution in the North-West American city and one of its most popular tourist attractions. Despite its emblematic value, Pike Place Market is a rather unusual site for Seattle – a town famous for its enhanced modernity spirit.
Located in the harbor's proximity, Pike Place Market is the stage of a ceaseless show that appeals to all your senses. While walking down the alleys, you will feel the scent of the Indian spices, the fish odor, as well as the flowers' perfume. The eclectic stalls are a joy of colors. You can basically buy anything here, from fruit and vegetables, raw meat and sea fruit, to souvenirs, books, CDs, kitschy figurines and locally crafted objects.
One of the few public markets in the United States, Pike Place Market is, indeed, an experience not to be missed while in Seattle. It makes a fascinating discovery and it is the venue of a pleasant walk even in bad weather as most of its areas are covered. Once your feet (or your tummy) give you the signal, you can stop at one of the cafés and restaurants than border the market. They offer a variety of cuisines and a great view over Elliot Bay waterfront.
The Market's History
Pike Place Market was founded in 1907, when the cost of food was alarmingly growing by the hour. The idea was to create a public place that would allow farmers to market their products directly at reasonable prices. According to local legends, the eight farmers who came to sell their products on the market's opening day liquidated their stock in just a few hours.
Since then, Pike Place Market has been operating continuously and following the 1929 crisis, it became the city's most important commercial hub. At the time, more than 600 farmers gathered there every day. Even today you can find about a hundred farmers selling seafood, fruits and vegetables, or flowers.
Pike Place Market - Flickr/americanvirus
Rachel the Piggy Bank
A few symbols are associated with Seattle's Pike Place Market: the "Public Market Center" sign, the clock and the pig you can find under it. The bronze sculpture created by an artist from Puget Sound Islands won a prize at one of the annual fairs organized here. Rachel is actually a piggy bank that collects money from passers-by. Each year Rachel makes a few thousand dollars which are used to help the local charities.
Shopping in the Digital Era
Being such a popular place of commerce of a future oriented city like Seattle, Pike Place Market has a special mobile application designed to make shopping easier. It provides the market's customers with information on the products' availability, their prices, the shops' opening hours and the shortest itinerary to reach them.
Pike Place Market Starbucks - Flickr/ataferner
Pike Place Market Tours
Tours of the market are organized on a daily basis. A local guide accompanies tourists who want to learn about the place's historical heritage, providing them with tips on the best places to shop for souvenirs and helping them spot the most interesting sides of the market. One landmark tours definitely highlight is the original Starbucks cafe, which has been operating within Pike Place Market's premises since 1912.
Victor Steinbrueck Park
In the market's close proximity, you will find Victor Steinbrueck Park – a nice, but rather crowded garden, where you can relax and enjoy the views of Seattle's picturesque surroundings Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountain. The park's name takes after one of the city's remarkable figures for his contribution to stop the demolishment project of Pike Place Market in 1963, when the urban reconstruction plans meant to replace it with a residential area.