Sometimes history can be a sticky subject

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Even born-and-raised Seattleites and longtime local history buffs learned something new on the tours given by Friends of the (Pike Place) Market at AKCHO’s October 31 membership meeting. Longtime Friends of the Market board member Ernie Dornfeld outlined his group’s history in rallying – more than once – to save the Pike Place Market, when moneyed forces petitioned the city for permission to redevelop the property in the name of urban renewal. Over the years, with advocacy from the likes of Seattle City Councilmember Wing Luke, architect Victor Steinbrueck, local attorney Larry Shafer, and many others, repeated attempts to raze the market were rebuffed. 

Post Alley’s famed gum wall was cleaned off earlier this spring, but has already made a comeback. According to CNN, the gum wall has bragging rights to being the “second germiest tourist attraction in the world” – right after the Blarney Stone.

These days the historic Market has just had a major expansion in anticipation of the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2019, and business is booming. AKCHO members split into two groups and were led by Friends of the Market tour guides Kate Krafft and Donagh O’Connor up and down stairs, past brilliant murals and full-throated buskers, through Post Alley, around flying fish and bronze pigs, and into a convoluted history that began 110 years ago.

Today the Market is run by the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, which not only preserves and rehabilitates the Market’s buildings, it also provides services for low-income people, and facilitates face-to-face interactions between producers (farmers, fishmongers, other food retailers, and artisans) — the Market’s motto is “Meet the Producer.”

There is also a Market Historical Commission which is independent of the PDA. The Commission’s mandate is to preserve the Market’s “soul,” and it has the authority to approve any changes in the design and use of both signage and buildings in the Pike Place Market Historical District, which was created in the 1970s. 

In addition to featuring tours that focused on the Market’s history, this AKCHO meeting also included a discussion about how to find volunteers. Volunteer recruitment resources include,, the Washington Nonprofit Institute, AASLH, United Way Volunteer Connection, and the University of Washington’s Museology Program and iSchool (formerly known as the School of Library and Information Studies).


Heritage Advisor is published by the Association of King County Historical Organizations as a service to members and those who support its mission. We update our website continually throughout the month, and on the first of every month we e-mail a condensed version of Heritage Advisor to our mailing list – you can subscribe to this service by filling out the requested information in the right sidebar on this page.

AKCHO was established in 1977 to encourage cooperation among historical organizations; promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve; and support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

The Heritage Advisor welcomes submissions of news items, calendar items, and opinion columns from AKCHO members, HA subscribers, and readers. Articles are limited to 300 words and they should have a strong relevance to historic preservation and heritage issues in King County, Washington. Submission of an article does not guarantee publication. AKCHO does not pay for published submissions. All articles are subject to review by AKCHO staff. Please send your article within the body of an email (no attachments, please) to

AKCHO welcomes new members year round. Individual memberships are $15. Organization memberships are $35. Join more than 150 individuals and organizations supporting heritage work and historic preservation in King County. For more information and an application form, visit


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AKCHO was established to encourage cooperation among historical organizations and to promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve, and to support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

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