27 October 2009

Sights and Sounds of Pike Place Market...A Virtual Tour

I promised a quick tour of one of my favourite haunts when I headed south this past weekend. I was lucky enough to travel with 42 other women on a mission to "shop till you drop" in the Seattle area. In true "foodie" style I did my obligatory shopping, but, then spent the day where I really wanted to be at the market along with locals and tourists alike. When travelling I want the opportunity to meet the people who live there and experience the culture and food sensations of a country first hand.

Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington. It is just a hop skip and a jump from the border to this amazing experience from my home town. The sun was shining and a perfect day for a stroll to experience all that Pike Place Market has to offer.

There’s more to the market than just food, fish and flowers. It’s not only the culinary heartbeat, but it’s really the soul of what makes Seattle a great city. It is a place of business for many small farmers, artisans, antique dealers, theatres, small family-owned restaurants, fish mongers, fresh produce stands and merchants and remains one of Seattle's most popular tourist destinations.

The Market is built on the edge of a steep hill where they have made good use of every inch of space.The Market opened 101 years ago in August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the United States. In 2007 the market celebrated it's 100 year anniversary and is internationally recognized as America's best farmers' market and the epicenter of Seattle's lively food culture.

Local farmers and craftspeople sell year-round in the arcades from tables they rent from the Market on a daily basis. The founders of Pike Place Market try to stay true to it's agricultural roots and maintain its integrity. The result is a jubilant, open-air celebration of fresh regional fruits and vegetables, seasonal flowers, herbs, seafood, spices, cheeses, hand-crafted work by artisans, eclectic shops, and fine restaurants and eateries.

The Market is a nine-acre National Historic District, and home to more than 100 farmers, 200 artists and craftspeople, 600 small businesses, 500 residents and 306 street performers (who are able perform anywhere there is a musical note painted on the sidewalk).

One of the interesting attractions we saw at Pike Market is the gum wall at the Market Theater in Post Alley. This Gum Wall, also known as the Wall of Gum, is one of the least known (attractions of the historic Pike Place Market which is usually known internationally for its fish throwers and as the location of the original Starbucks logo. This gum wall began with theater patrons waiting outside, placing a blob of chewing gum on the wall and sticking a penny or other coin in it. The coins would be picked off by other people, and the wall was cleaned of gum two or three times before the powers that be gave up and the wall became an interactive work of art. Now people chew wads of gum and shape letters and figures from it, as well as adding the conventional blobs. Yes that is gum all over the wall below. You can see other photos here and here....

Here in this revered nine-acre community with its cracked walkways and uneven but original cobblestone streets, the scents of seasonal flowers mingle with Dungeness crabs and spicy teas and the lively street musicians or "buskers" compete with the theatrical vendors. All have a story to tell.

My roommate and I decided to have lunch at Pike Place Chowder which is the home of Americas Best Chowder. They were eventually banned from competition and put in the Chowder Hall of Fame being unbeatable. Their clam chowder has won first-place awards everywhere in the country and may be the only chowder to have accomplished this fete on both coasts. This place does chowder, pure and simple. And while their great New England-style clam chowder has national awards, they also do Manhattan clam chowder, smoked salmon chowder, mixed seafood chowder, and even a Southwestern-style chowder with chicken and corn. We were lucky to sample 3 of their chowders including a Seared Scallop which was my personal favourite with a "nutty" flavour. This tiny place is tucked away in Pike Place Market's Post Alley.

If you every have the chance Pike Place Market is a must see. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Aaaahhhh your post brings me back nice old memories. When I was young and crazy and spent some days in Seattle... I also visited the market, fell in love with a musician and met a crazy Paintor :D :D :D

  2. Thanks for sharing! A beautiful market!



  3. Val, I want to go so bad now that I have read your review. I would love to go in December and see all the Christmas decorations. What a great week-end you had :)

  4. Your making me misty with this post. I love Pike Place Market! I want to go back there!!!

    But, how in the world did I miss that Gum Wall? ;)

  5. Val, what are those spiral things, one looks like apples are inside. I've been there once, loved it!

  6. I really want to see western Canada and the Northwest in general. I will not forget the umbrella!

  7. If you go in December Helene I am told that you also ned to visit Leavenworth.
    The Gum Wall is near where the pig is Susan you just go down these stairs to a dark alley:D
    The spiral pastries are piroshki from the Polish vendor...sweet and savoury.Yes they are apples.
    Yes it rained every day we were there except when we visited Pike Market Place Peter, so do not forget your umbrella:D

  8. What a great trip. I've never been to Seattle, but I've heard all about Pike Place Market. I think if I ever went, you would have a hard time getting me to leave. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. I've always wanted to go to Seattle and enjoy the culinary delights of this region. The Pike Market place really looks fantastic...thank you for sharing Val!

  10. Wonderful post about one of my favorite American markets.

  11. Great photos! I'm sorry I couldn't meet up with your there. We were all down with the flu. :-(

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