Pike Place Market: Photo Essay

Famous Sign

This steadily glowing neon sign draws people from far and wide into Pike Place Market, known as “the heart of Seattle.” It’s an apt metaphor, for the place positively throbs with activity. Folks from all walks of life course through its arcades: farmers, florists, fishmongers, artisans, street performers, chefs, city dwellers shopping for their evening meal and tourists, tourists, tourists.

The hustle and bustle has characterized the market since opening day in August 1907, which turned out to be a clamorous fiasco. Eight farmers parked their produce carts on the new plank roadway fronting the Leland Hotel and were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of eager shoppers. Their enthusiasm for the farmers’ enterprise was fueled by anger at the outrageous prices middlemen charged for produce at other locations. At Pike Place, the public dealt with the producer himself, who sold his own goods at a reasonable mark-up. To this day, it’s still a place to “meet the producer.”

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Learning to See

Beaches on Puget Sound aren’t picturesque in the way of those in Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean. There aren’t huge stretches of powdery sand, translucent water, palm trees or stunning sunsets.

Compared to those, beaches here can appear downright ugly. The ground is littered with rocks, empty crab exoskeltons, huge swathes of stinking seaweed, and cracked clam shells.

Sea Weed and Crab Exoskeleton

The skies are full of crows and gulls venting in their shrill way.

Sea Gull

You will see some determined people trying to swim, their lips turning blue and their teeth chattering, and a couple of people courting cancer by browning their carcasses on beach towels.

Twice now, my friend Anna has dragged me to one of these beaches specifically to take photos. I’ll confess to a lack of imagination and vision when first scoping out these scenes. There was nothing in front of me that begged to be photographed: no monument natural or man-made, nothing saturated with color, and no sexy lifeguards.

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