North Arcade, Triangle Building

Pike Place and Pine St

Pike Place exterior, foot of Pine Street, in front of City Fish

Walk north through the Down Under, up the ramp towards City Fish, and out to the street just in front of the fish stand.

We stop to rest here just in front of City Fish. The Market was created to help keep food costs down, but by WWI the city was seeing a high degree of war profiteering. At one point, salmon rose to 25-cents per pound. As the price of salmon began to skyrocket, City partnered up with the State Fisheries Commission to sell the carcasses of salmon that had been killed for their eggs and sperm. Seattle established a municipally owned “City Fish Market” which brought the price of salmon back down significantly. Within weeks of the opening of City Fish, salmon dropped to seven-cents a pound. After the war, the City relinquished its role as fishmonger. David Levy, one of the first in a wave of Sephardic Jewish immigration, bought the stand and quickly gained a reputation as “Good Weight Dave.”

In 1910 – 11, the City constructed new arcade space (historically called Market House) along the sidewalks adjacent to Pike Place to make the street more open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This would be the city’s second major investment in the market after construction of the comfort station in 1908. At the same time, the city was regrading Western Avenue, and building a massive retaining wall to support the grade change between Pike Place and Western. This 375-foot shed cost $10,000 to build and occurred shortly after construction of the Sanitary Market and in conjunction with (and in keeping in the aesthetic of) the expansion of the Leland and Fairley Buildings.

Originally the North Arcade was an open shed structure providing covered stalls along the length of the west side of the shed. These 74 stalls were the ‘dry’ stalls where foods not requiring rinsing were sold, such as eggs, poultry, fruit and nuts. The produce that required water and rinsing was sold along the east or “wet” side of the building, at the curb and street.

The ramp you just ascended, and the stairwell below it, were created to bridge the gap created by the curve of Western Avenue and its retaining wall which this building follows.

The 1920-1921 controversy over farm stall space in the Main Arcade, as well as the development of the Goodwin Group stalls, led to an agreement between the City and the Goodwins’ Pike Place Market and Department Store Company that gave the company the right to build a new large addition (the Municipal Market, now demolished) and change the arrangement of farmer’s. This begat what is now called Flower Row and the Down Under, but the North Arcade was also expanded to create 60 additional wet stalls. At this time, the west side of the North Arcade was expanded and steel-reinforced concrete supports were added below on the Western Ave sidewalk. The building was altered again in 1922 to create a skybridge to the Municipal Market across Western Avenue.

At the northern end of the North Arcade is ‘the slabs.’ These, along with a covered shed, were constructed in 1929. The shed was removed in the 1950s. The “Public Market” sign was installed in the late 1920’s, predating its more famous counterpart farther south.

Directly across the street is the Silver Oakum and Triangle Building, tucked into a parcel hemmed in by the odd angles of Pike Place and Post Alley. These two structures were joined internally during their renovation in 1977. The design for rehabilitation was developed by Frank Bassetti, who helped nurture Victor Steinbrueck’s appreciation for the Market and was a major supporter of the preservation efforts carried out by the Friends of the Market. Constructed in 1910, the Silver Oakum building originally housed a hotel. It is believed that the designation “Silver Oakum” refers to the original owner of the Building, Joseph Silver or his son Benjamin. Oakum is a fiber used for caulking seams in wooden ships, which hints at the clientele who frequented what was originally called the Hotel Lotus. The Lotus was a 26-room hotel with eight toilets and operated until 1972. The ground floor of the building is commercial space, previous tenants included a poultry company, the original location of the Dunn Seed Company (then-called C.B. Strong Company), a restaurant, a grocery and bakery, a meat purveyor, and the Gem Egg Market. The 1977 renovation was the first new housing project completed in the market neighborhood since the 1930’s.

The Triangle Building was also constructed in 1910 and was acquired by the Pike Place Markets, Inc. in 1959. Historically, this building featured a creamery, a poultry company, fruit stands, a restaurant and a billiards hall on the upper floor.

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