Pike Place Market in Seattle is one of those places you know is a tourist trap, but you have to go anyway. Home of the dudes who throw fish (no, really, they throw fish), the ORIGINAL Starbucks and other quirky things, there really wasn’t any way I could skip it, even as my friend Kelli teased me about my taste in destinations.
Hard to describe, but Pike Place Market is a multi level (several floors under ground) and multi block experience. There are restaurants, food stalls, flower stalls, shops, fruit/veggie stalls, craft stalls, and all manner of random thing to be found inside.
It’s hard to say if they’re more famous for this, the guys who throw the fish, or the original Starbucks. I’ve seen this on tv on the far too many travel channel shows I love, but I wanted to see it in person. Kelli humored me, as I’m sure she humors all her out of town friends, waiting patiently with me until they started throwing fish around.
Pike Place Market’s unofficial mascot, Rachel, a bronze cast piggy bank that weighs 550 pounds (250 kg), has been located since 1986 at the corner of Pike Place under the “Public Market Center” sign. Rachel was designed by local artist Georgia Gerber and modeled after a pig (also named Rachel) that lived on Whidbey Island and was the 1977 Island County prize-winner. Rachel receives roughly US$6,000–$9,000 annually in just about every type of world currency, which is collected by the Market Foundation to fund the Market’s social services.
Rachel provided the theme for the Pigs on Parade fundraiser that was first held in 2001 and was one of several events in various cities modeled on a similar 1998 event in Zurich; the Zurich event centered on cows and was the first of what have come to be known as CowParades. A similar Pigs On Parade fundraiser was held in 2007 on the occasion of the Market centennial, which happened to coincide with the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Pig.
Cherries and Mt. Rainier Cherries
In general, I like the produce I find in Singapore. I especially love that strawberries are never out of season for very long. There are Aussie, Korean, Japanese, and American strawberries, and that makes life good. But the one thing we don’t find here is great corn. You find small ears of corn, but nothing like large and robust corn ears that are widely available at farm stands locally to Boston every fall. So seeing these ears of corn made me more than a little wistful.
The first Starbucks was opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 30, 1971 by three partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl, and writer Gordon Bowker. The three were inspired by entrepreneur Alfred Peet (whom they knew personally) to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment. The name is taken from Moby-Dick; after Pequod was rejected by one of the co-founders, the company was named for the first mate on the Pequod, Starbuck.
From 1971–1975, the first Starbucks was at 2000 Western Avenue; it then was relocated to 1912 Pike Place, where it remains to this day. During their first year of operation, they purchased green coffee beans from Peet’s, then began buying directly from growers. Source
What I love is that the sign is the older logo, which has since become less explicit (no nipples on the mermaid, for example if you check your local Starbucks as compared to the sign above) and the store looks not so much like a generic Starbucks, but what it started out as…a coffee shop in a city that loves its coffee.
The obvious draw-back is that it is obviously NOT a simple coffee shop any more. It is a major tourism destination for Seattle (so much that the Seattle.gov page has a dedicated page for it). The lines and crowds reflect this, which detract from that. But looking in you get an idea of what the genesis of Starbucks might have been like.
I loved it, and will probably explore it again the next time I’m in town. We grabbed lunch at a restaurant, so I wasn’t hungry when we passed the fresh home made donut stand (which otherwise looked like a must-see).
One caveat for parents…Pike Place? NOT stroller friendly. Tons of stairs, not a lot of elevators. Leave the stroller at home.