Seattle Public Library launches the Pike Place Market Digital Collection October 21, 2014 – Posted in: In the Stacks, Libraries, public libraries, Special Collections – Tags: , ,

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“We believe handmade, homegrown and face-to-face are still the best ways of doing things.”

It was an August day in 1907 when “crowds of shoppers seeking fresh produce and bargains descended…The first farmer sold out of produce within minutes. Within a week, 70 wagons were gathering daily to sell along the newly named Pike Place, a wooden roadway that connected First St. to Western Ave.”

The Pike Place Market rests just under the Space Needle when it comes to Seattle’s prominent landmarks. It is both a tourist mecca and community hub. In all, the Pike Place Market Historic District comprises 9 acres. It is much more than flying fish and fresh produce, in addition to the plethora of farmers and artisans there are 30 restaurants, 250 stores, a senior center, a health clinic, a food bank and a child-care center!

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The Pike Place Market Digital Collection courtesy of the Seattle Public Library brings nearly 500 items from the 1920s to the 1980s right to our fingertips.

The collection is comprised of these three components:

  • The Suzanne Hittman CollectionCorrespondence, business ledgers, receipts, plans, rental agreements and other significant documents produced by Pike Place Market farmers and vendors along with key figures in the business history of the market, such as Frank Goodwin, Arthur E. Goodwin and Giuseppe (Joe) Desimone.
  • The Peter Steinbrueck Pike Place Market CollectionArchitectural plans, posters, newspaper articles and ephemera related to the Market Initiative and other efforts undertaken by the Friends of the Market to protect Pike Place Market from proposed urban renewal plans in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Werner Lenggenhager CollectionPictures of life at the market from the 1950s to the 1980s, such as photographs of market stalls, shoppers, farmers and street musicians.


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Jodee Fenton, manager of special collections at SPL, reminds us that the market is much more than a leading tourist attraction:

The Pike Place Market embodies so much of Seattle’s history, including how food was distributed 100 years ago to the growing population of Seattle, to how the produce from immigrant farmers influenced local cuisine, The Pike Place Market stands as a definition of Seattle culture and history



Timeline of the Pike Place Market

The Market was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times: Pike Place Market is a magical lure on Seattle’s bustling waterfront

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