Members of the Friends of the Market make a case for not barring vehicles from Pike Place.
AS members of Friends of the Market, we would like to respond to Akiva Kenny Segan’s My Take proposal to bar vehicles from Pike Place [“Let shoppers and sightseers enjoy a car-free Pike Place Market,” June 24, Opinion].
From its very beginning in 1907, the Pike Place Market has been a marvelous jumble of people, products and vehicles — wagons, cars trucks. The struggle to maintain a public market, not a shopping mall or even a modern European streetscape, began more than five decades ago. That effort resulted in what we have today — an extraordinary mix of people and businesses and interesting spaces to explore. The market was preserved to serve the citizens of Seattle who work and shop here even as it draws people from around the world.
The Pike Place Market is a working public market. It houses hundreds of small owner-operated businesses — farmers, produce sellers, retail shops, cafes — all of which are heavily dependent on convenient vehicular access for delivery and service purposes. Closing the street to pedestrians only would be the kiss of death for these merchants.
The market is a very complex place. The preservation of its historic character; the continuation of its traditional uses; the functioning of housing and social services for elderly and low-income residents; and all of the ongoing challenges required to operate and maintain it should not be taken for granted. Too many of us have become complacent — not remembering or realizing the extreme efforts required to “keep” this market alive and well.
Next time someone suggests we “mall off” Pike Place and turn the place into a suburban shopping center — please remind them that the Friends of the Market and hundreds of local folks fought for seven years before the passage of the public initiative in 1971 to “Keep the Market” and that the The Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority, the Market Foundation and the Market Historical Commission have been diligently working for more than 40 years to in fact keep it.