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.”