Letter to the Editor: Removing cars from Pike Place is a disaster for the Public Market

Sunday, December 26, 2021

To the Editor,

The idea recently floated to remove cars from Pike Place in the Public Market is not new and has been discussed for years. The idea was finally implemented decade or more ago by the Market landlord for one month during high summer season. The results were a disaster for merchants in the 4 floors of retail below street level, known collectively as Down Under. 

While most locals have eventually discovered the grand variety of small specialty shops that make up this distinct below grade Market treasure, it is not obvious to the there-for-the-day, street-level tourist. 

Over time, the Pike Market has moved from being a resource market for locals to being an "experience" for tourists.  As the tourist bodies crowd Pike Place, the impression the tourist gets is that great mass of bodies and the shops nearby at street level is the "Pike Market experience". 

An hour or so is spent wandering at top street level, possibly a visit is given to the gum wall or lunch is ordered and enjoyed, then that's it;  The "Market Experience" has taken place, on to the Space Needle! 

Believe me the Market landlord, the PDA, heard plenty of outrage from the merchants bypassed by those enjoying the "Market experience" during this experiment. And so quietly the results of the "car free" experiment in the Pike Place Market were shelved. It turned out that cars on Pike Place served as distributors, forcing pedestrians to take a variety of routes to wind there way through the Market. Then too, many regular Market Folk enjoy this  interaction between cars and pedestrians because clearly pedestrians dominate the cars, an uniquely urban experience.

Another surprising disaster for Market Merchants is the use of Victor Steinbrueck Park for political rallies. Crowding 10,000 or so single minded citizens into the North end of the Pike Place Market simply kills business in the main Market for crucial retail hours. 

Allowing tour busses onto Pike Place doesn't work either.  All these seemingly good ideas have the tendency to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It really is important to let the organic nature of the Pike Market find its way and persist. Other than that courts small business disaster.

Billy King
Lake Forest Park
Former Market Mayor



2 comments:

Anonymous,  December 26, 2021 at 9:25 PM  

let there be cars during very restricted hours - early morning, late evening - to allow for loading, unloading, etc. that a big Ha! that pedestrians enjoy the interactions with the cars or vice versa. There are multiple pedestrian only venues in many areas of the world where retail is the draw - Seattle can figure this out -perhaps give hotels and airnb's coupons specific for use on the "under floors" - -

Unknown December 27, 2021 at 5:05 PM  

Keep it disabled friendly please

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