Central Association of Seattle announces plans on February 14, 1963, to tear down Pike Place Market.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/27/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1425

On February 14, 1963, the Central Association of Seattle (later the Downtown Seattle Association) announces a plan to tear down all buildings in the Pike Place Market area of Seattle and to replace the Market with parking, office and hotel space, and stalls for vendors. Association President Ben Ehrlichman (1895-1971) describes the planned development as "a visitor and tourism attraction quite equal to the Los Angeles Farmers' Market."

Almost immediately opponents to the plan began to speak out, including University of Washington School of Architecture Chairman Victor Steinbrueck (1911-1985). The controversy continued for the next eight years, pitting the mayor, the city council, and downtown businessmen against vendors and patrons at the market.

The issue was resolved on November 2, 1971, when Seattle voters approved Initiative No. 1, which prohibited alterations, demolition, or construction at the site of the Pike Place Market without approval of a 12-member commission.


Alice Shorett and Murray Morgan, The Pike Place Market: People, Politics, and Produce, (Seattle, Pacific Search Press, 1982); Jack P. Evans, Little History of the Pike Place Market, (Seattle, SCW Publications, 1984); Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 13, 1969, p. 11; The Seattle Times, November 3, 1971, p. A-1, B-6.

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