Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market in Seattle is one of my favorite places. Everytime we go we spend at least a few hours walking and browsing at all of the products being sold by the merchants. In the main arcade there is a wide selection of goods such as jewelry, honey, fresh and dried flowers, seafood stands, fruit stands, art and photography, seattle souvenirs, clothing, crafts, food and several other specialty products created by talented artisans. There are also restaurants, one which was made famous by a movie called Sleepless in Seattle, starring Tom Hanks. They shot a scene in the market, including Tom and Rob Reiner having lunch at a restaurant called The Athenian. Pretty cool huh?
The Market has been opened since August 1907. After feeling cheated by greedy middlemen, a handful of farmers brought their wagons to the corner of First and Pike to sell their produce to thousands of citizens who were outraged by the high cost of produce. By November of that year the first market building was opened and it’s been open ever since. The famous market sign and clock was erected in 1927. (pictured above) Pike Place Market is the oldest operated market in the U.S. and is on the national register of historic places.
The atmosphere at the Market is relaxed. The people walk slowly and casually as they browse, sample products, and make their purchases. There is usually a street entertainer or two which could be enjoyable depending on the talent of the performer, but I think they add to the fresh ambience of the market.
One of the more famous merchants, the Pike Place Fish Co. is my and most likely everyone’s favorite attraction. The popular fishmongers who have been there for years are known for tossing the fish that has been chosen by the customer to the guys behind the counter to be prepared and wrapped. It is a spectacular site and everyone enjoys watching them. I have tried many times to get a shot of a fish in mid air but haven’t yet. Next time I won’t leave until I get that shot!
(He had just caught it and the lady standing next to him thought it was coming straight for her)
One Saturday afternoon my husband and I spent all day exploring the entire market. There are several floors of shops and restaurants that we had never seen before, including a movie memorabilia store which held our interest for a good amount of time. There are book and comic stores, antique shops, magic shops, and a wide array of specialty stores.
Across the road are more shops and stands including the world’s first Starbucks store. Talk about historic! One particular shop located on Post Alley is my mother’s favorite. We will take a special trip to the market just so she can purchase authentic hispanic foods and products that are hard to find anywhere else.
When we take the children to the market with us we usually make a day of it and park down below on Alaskan Way under the viaduct. There is a “hillclimb” up hundreds of steps or an elevator that will take you to the Market. We begin on the waterfront, having lunch at Ivars Fish Bar of course so the kids can feed the seagulls, and then browse through the numerous stores that are on the piers. Of course “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” on pier 54 is a must see everytime. It has the most unusual merchandise to buy, two perfectly preserved mummys “Sylvester” and “Sylvia” to see, and of course Seattle souvenirs for the tourists.
On a few occasions we have dined at my favorite seafood restaurant “The Crab Pot” on pier 57. Here you can order all kinds of menu items, but I am sure most people are there for the “Seafeast for two dinner”. First the waiter ties the obligatory bib around your neck, lays down butcher paper which substitutes for a plate, hands you a mallot and a large silver bowl for depositing shells, and proceeds to shovel onto the paper in front of you a mound of crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, red potatoes, and whatever else might be included with the particular seafeast you choose. My favorite is the Westport.
There is so much to do at Pike Place Market and the area surrounding it, no wonder it is the most popular tourist attraction in Seattle. So if you are in Seattle and want to experience a day of shopping, strolling, and breathing the fresh Puget Sound air, head for Pike Place Market and take in all it has to offer.