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Pike Place Market....Then, and Now. (Image: Joshua Lewis / Seattle Municipal Courts)

Quick Facts: A history of Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market has become a staple for locals and tourists alike, and has such a vast history... I mean it is the longest running farmers market in the United States, for heavens sake.

To celebrate the infamous markets' 109th birthday, the construction of the new MarketFront is to begin in 2017. The expansion will bring a lot of new and fun change to the market, and it kind of got us thinking...we all think we know everything there is to know about the Market - but do we? Here are some quick facts you may not know:

  • The Market began in 1907 as a small group of farmers who wanted to sell their produce directly to Seattleites.
  • One of these early farmers was Italian immigrant, Giuseppe "Joe" Desimone. Desimone began as a vendor himself but then proceeded to buy shares of the market, eventually making him the president of Pike Place. Desimone contributed to the community feel by always helping his vendors or by loaning money to keep a business afloat.
  • After his death in 1946, Desimone's son, Richard succeeded him as president to continue the legacy that Desimone created.
  • A bridge was eradicated in Joe Desimone's honor, called the Joe Desimone bridge. The bridge connected Western Avenue to North Arcade to the Municipal Market Building. After a fire in 1974, the bridge was destroyed and will be reconstructed in 2017 to connect to the new MarketFront.
  • The Desimone Family has donated over $100,000 to the Pike Place Market Foundation's Pike Up! campaign, which spearheads the MarketFront project. The Foundation is still active in the Pike Place. In fact, this past year they purchased new bulbs for their farmers who had lost their flower crops due to the flooding. *awwwww*

Now that we've looked back, here's a quick look forward, what to expect from the coming growth:

  • 30,000 square-feet of open public space encompassing a public plaza and viewing deck from the Desimone Bridge
  • Dozens of farm and craft stalls on the roof terrace
  • 12,000-square-feet of commercial and retail space for artisan purveyors
  • 47 new day-stall tables for farmers, crafters and artists
  • 40 low-income housing units for seniors
  • 300 covered parking spaces and 33 bicycle spaces
  • One new Neighborhood Center with additional social services
  • Multiple public art installations

So there you have it, your daily history lesson. That wasn't so bad, was it? To donate to the PikeUp! campaign and more information, click here.