Seattle Brews the Perfect Blend: Visitors and Locals

For the first time in 40 years, Seattle’s Pike Place Market is growing — not just in square footage, but also in expanded opportunities for local businesses.

Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Photo by Howard Frisk

Seattle is known for its tech sector — Amazon is headquartered here, after all — but it’s also known for being progressive. It was the first city in the United States to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and its current mayor, Jenny Durkan, became the city’s second female mayor when she took office last November.

Seattle takes a forward-thinking approach to its growth as well, which sometimes means making sure the city’s roots are protected. For example, consider how upcoming developments at Pike Place Market — a more-than-century-old public farmers market and city icon — will bring communities together.

Kauilani Robinson, Visit Seattle’s director of public relations, talked about what’s to come with Convene.

From Selfies to Sustainability

New opportunities at Pike Place Market include 47 new stalls for farmers, crafters, and artisans. Photo by Howard Frisk

It’s almost impossible to think of Seattle without thinking of the 111-year-old Pike Place Market  — by now, most people have seen photos of sight-seers taking a selfie in front of the Seattle landmark. But recent changes are oriented more toward its historic role as a meeting place for locals than its status as a tourist destination. Which works out for locals and visitors alike — travelers want to connect with a real place with local roots. 

For the first time in 40 years, it’s growing — not just in square footage (including a new, 0.75-acre that includes a 30,000-square-foot public terrace), but also in expanded opportunities for local businesses. New space has been carved out for 47 new stalls for farmers, crafters, and artists, and additional development includes 40 low-income housing units for seniors.

Produce at the Farmer’s Market in Pike Place Market. Photo by Howard Frisk

“You walk through [Pike Place Market] and you can see that people are happy. They’re taking photos and they’re excited to be there, discovering artists and local farmers,” Robinson said. “It’s just a great place for  locals and visitors to come and be able hear new music and buy fresh fish.”

Pike Place Market’s new MarketFront also extends to the Seattle waterfront, creating a link between the market and Downtown Seattle, with greater potential for visitors and locals to cross paths. Pike Place Market’s “open waterfront concept will really be a fluid place for visitors and locals alike to mingle and get together,” Robinson said. “We welcome everybody. Arms are open. We want people to feel comfortable in this city, and hopefully that comes across.”

And for more on the benefits to cities and communities from public markets, see our story about the 10th International Public Markets Conference

Jasmine Zhu