Lower Pike Street to Post Alley, Pike Place Market, Seattle, January 2, 2014, Photo by John Brew (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Lower Pike Street leading to lower Post Alley, Seattle, 1972, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (32530)
Pike Place Market with trucks and cars, 1920, Courtesy MOHAI (1983.10.1659.3)
Food vendors, Pike Place Market, Seattle, 1907-1940
Vendors and horse-drawn carts, Pike Place Market, Seattle, ca. 1908

Pike Place Market Architecture

by Nick Setten
Listen (English Only)

Originally an outdoor market on a recently board-walked side street, the Pike Place Market remained outdoors until 1907, when brothers Frank and John Goodwin used their wealth from the Klondike Gold Rush to build the first structures. Construction began because of one Seattle constant: the rain. The first building was a simple covered structure built in November 1907 that snaked along the bluff west of Pike Place. This originally served to bring farmers out of the rain, but by the 1920’s, as automobiles became popular, the Market expanded to allow more traffic by bringing stalls out of the streets and putting them under cover.

Pike Place Market bustled in the years leading up to World War I and boomed in the post-war 1920s. More buildings sprung up along Pike Place to accommodate demand, and farmers, butchers and ancillary businesses moved in. The neighborhood’s vernacular architecture remained approachable, making the Market an unstuffy place to shop for people from all ends of the economic spectrum.

Although growth slowed by the 1930’s, the Market’s importance as a gathering place remained paramount to Seattle’s citizens, and in the 1960s, when the Market was threatened with demolition, they created a “Keep the Market” campaign to save it. A rare example of urban renewal combining new construction and historic preservation, the Market was designated a National Historic District in 1971.

Our tour explores the nine acres that comprise the Market with an eye on its architecture. As you wind through the Market’s organically grown labyrinths, note the “humble and anonymous” buildings and human sense of scale that incubated a diverse and robust Market community. We begin at the nexus of Pike Street and Pike Place, just west of the Market Information booth.

Tour Stops

This tour made possible by generous support from

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Download the App

Visit HistoryLink.Tours in your mobile browser to download our web app!

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the share icon and select Add to Home Screen.

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the overflow button (three vertical dots) and select Add to Home Screen.