Skip to main content
King County logo

The Pike Place Market was established by the City of Seattle in 1907 for the public benefit, but it was private investment that helped spur its rapid development. From the original concept, as simple sidewalk stalls offering a variety of food products directly from the producers, the market expanded quickly by the 1920s to form a core complex of structures including the North Arcade, the Main Arcade, the Economy Market, the Corner Market Building, and Sanitary Public Market.

The Sanitation Division of Seattle's Health Department took on the daunting task of monitoring the sanitary conditions at the Pike Place Market and checking the quality of the products offered by the vendors. From its very beginning a wide variety of products were available at the Market including, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, and baked goods. Market inspection continued to be a responsibility of the Department after the merger with King County.

The Market's fortunes shifted dramatically during the post World War II period as an increase in the construction of large supermarkets and other factors contributed to declining Market attendance. What had once been looked upon as a boon to the public now began to be viewed more as a public health hazard. Writing in 1954, Sanford Lehman, the Director of Public Health commented: "Today, standards of produce marketing have so generally improved that the market has long outgrown its original public health function --indeed, the tremendous amount of refuse is a headache for the department's rodent-control crews."

Conditions at the Market continued to deteriorate throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and the entire complex was slated for demolition and redevelopment in 1963. Strong community support, however, helped to save the Market and in 1973, the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) was created to rehabilitate the buildings and manage the operations of the Market.

TTY Relay 711

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9 am-4 pm

Please note the Archives is closed Wednesdays.