An innovation Phoenix from the ashes: Pike Place Market

Posted on January 15th, 2017 by

Beautiful and local food- photo by Christian Hedstrom

Lots of people come to Pike Place Market to see the famed fishmongers throwing fish back and forth over the counter, but probably way fewer realize how close to the brink of demolition the Market came in its up-and-down history. The internment of Japanese-Americans affected the majority of vendors at the Market, and it was left without a thriving trade and community core in the 1940s. Slated for demolition in the 1960s, visionaries in the Seattle area saved it by creating Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority to manage the buildings and real estate, and to provide a firm funding mechanism for the Market as a public asset.

Having opened in 1907, it is one of the longest continuously operating fresh food and artists’ markets in the country. Visiting the packed and energetic market, it is hard to believe that it was on the block to be knocked down but it’s instructive for a course on creativity and innovation that they could re-frame the Market as an irreplaceable piece of cultural history that had to be saved and refurbished. Oh, and did we mention that Pike Street is the site of the original Starbucks?




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