Two on the Pike Place Public Market from HELIX – Spring of 1969

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We enter again now into the archival world of Ron Edge’s clippings. While scanning the complete opera of Helix (ultimately for this blog-web site and my own planned “Helix Redux” project) Ron came upon two illustrated features printed in the spring of 1969 and so in the seed-patch of saving the Pike Place Market from ruin by the bulldozing-financial means of the ironically named “Urban Renewal.” We know, of course, that the Market was saved. Here, first, is Victor Steinbrueck describing that salvation while still stirring the faithful. Here, second, is then Helix photographer Paul Temple’s “Faces of the Market” centerfold (and more) pictorial, published two weeks following Steinbrueck’s rallying April essay. Framed between the two Helix features is a reflection on them by Paul Dunn, who – he explains at the bottom – recently retired from his 13-years as President of Friends of the Market. Paul is also quoted in the “now-then” feature that follows this Helix business.

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Two Helix features are printed here: above and below. Both are from the spring of 1969. The last paragraphs of the first feature (above) disclose that Victor Steinbrueck wrote this summary of the campaign to save the Pike Place Public Market when it was still a work-in-progress. There, besides Victor, are also noted Ibsen Nelson, and Fred Bassetti, the remaining two of the three principle, prominent Friends of the Market – the “Founders.” All three were noted architects and each had respect and standing in both the business and academic communities. Bassetti was (and still is) an eloquent wordsmith.  Steinbrueck first and then Nelson too have passed.

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Of note on how little some things change, is the reference in the article to a comparison of money to be spent (wisely) on the Pike Place Market and not on “ball teams and domed stadiums”.  The article reveals some Friends’ advance thinking as they refer to citizen legal action and a “referendum”. In fact, in December of 1970 an injunctive writ of mandamus was filed, which legally stopped the bulldozers giving Friends time to mount the Initiative campaign, which did save the Market.

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Victor Steinbrueck’s op-ed article lays out a preferred course of action, a planning team, virtually free to the city, which was a reasonable request. It was a version of the petition signed by 53,000 citizens (almost 25% of the registered voters in Seattle), which the City Council rejected by a 9 – 0 vote. This piece, published by the then two-year old Helix, Seattle’s own “Underground Press” weekly tabloid, is an indication that Friends of the Market and other preservation advocates were moving from civil and decorous petitioning (such a daffodil marches through the streets) to action in the courts and on the ballot.

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To “repeat” the historical view featured at the top of that first Helix article, I will attach the one picture I took before the batteries died in my camera. It is about as good as it will get. Ed Newbold’s shop and the Newsstand sit astride the exact space, but no windows can be seen so I avoided it. I mean my shot is NOT quite an exact repeat of the “Then.” I’ll explain that in the caption below.

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The second Helix feature, a pictorial on the Market, attached below with its shorter essay adds more props to the stage for those important days. Big things were happening in the Queen City. First another review of those times. March and April 1969 were critical months for the Market and its Friends. I repeat, and think about it! Petitions with 53,000 citizen signatures had been presented to the City Council, which rejected the request to NOT approve urban renewal scheme 23 – unanimously. (The political arrogance of those nine council members. The city had 500,000, plus souls, at the most only 200,000 were old enough or willing to vote. That was over 30% of the electorate telling this city body what to do.  And it would not!)

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Public hearings before the City Council were scheduled between March 19 and April 25 (the latter date is when the first of these two Helix articles came out. The pictorial was published two week later.) Victor Steinbrueck organized supporters and rallied others to pack the Council Chambers and sign to speak. This is how Market historian Alice Shorett described the scene: “Twelve sessions were held on ten separate days, thirty three hours and thirty minutes of testimony were recorded (By the way, the City Clerk, Municipal Records staff have dug up those hearing tapes and they can be listened to in City Hall.) Eighty documents were submitted. Phalanges of partisans – pro-renewal people mostly in business suits and pro-Market forces a motley crew carrying banners (“Beware of Plastic Markets”) and daffodils – applauded their champions.

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A lot of good it did. The City Council passed the resolution for final approval of the $2 million first year HUD urban renewal money on August 11, 1969. Victor refers to “litigation” and “referendum” in the first Helix piece from April 25. Both came to pass: the litigation to stop the bulldozers while Friends could write the Initiative and gain the signatures for the ballot approval.

The rest is, as they say, history.   Heady times in the old town then.

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Now to conclude, I’ll return to that first Helix feature and how I chose my prospect for repeating the photograph from the spring of 1969. First I’ll identify the general location. The unattributed photo (Helix photographer Paul Temple probably snapped it as he did those in the second pictorial feature.) of a farmer selling vegetables from a day table is most likely what we now call Economy Row. The support column is not from the Main Arcade. Rather it is the area between First Avenue and the Market sign, which has been open to the weather since the sidewalk was covered (and coveted) by the Goodwins in the 1920’s.  The first protection was with awnings and later a full glazed wall was added. It is seen here. The vacant stall I recorded on Economy Row is not the exact spot our 1969 farmer is selling from. The reason is that Ed Newbold’s Wildlife Picture shop and the First and Pike Newsstand block all the windows, columns and other identifying details. The day stalls lasted on Economy Row through much of the 1970’s, but finally gave way to more regular merchants in divided spaces with some permanence. The farmers were never fond of the space because it was open to winds and shoppers didn’t seem to care to linger. The glazed wall of sixteen square windows, plus swinging four panels, made the area more comfortable, but management could never keep enough farmers to make the space pay. For a time, before the newsstand expanded into the row, Dickie Yokoyama ran a high stall on weekends selling produce. That didn’t work out either.

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My picture is of the vacated Bedalia Bakery. The post on the right is the same kind as in the “Then” picture, so are the light fixtures and all the windows. What is gone are the low farmer tables.

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Sorry this is so long.  I didn’t, as Mark Twain used to say, have time to write a short caption.

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Paul Dunn,

fessdunn@aol.com

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I asked Paul Dunn to follow his mark with a brief description of his place now as retiring archon for Friends of the Market, and also about what is next up with his pithy-witty column Post Ally Passages.

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I have been replaced by Ed Singler as President of Friends of the Market after a 13 year run.  On my departure the Friends gave me a fine-bronzed plaque and gift certificates to Maximillien, Champagne, Pink Door and Matt’s in the Market. The plaque is not edible.  I have been writing a column, Post Alley Passages, in the Pike Place Market News (www/pikeplacemarketnews.com), first begun in 1989, and picked up again in 2003. December’s subject is Market bookstores – a place to find perfect gifts, titled, The Pike Place Book Market. The Market News Archives carry all past columns and can be read online.

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Happy Thanksgiving.

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Paul Dunn,

 

P.S. Click TWICE to Enlarge.

 

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3 thoughts on “Two on the Pike Place Public Market from HELIX – Spring of 1969”

  1. What a joy to wake up to this entry on two of the finest institutions ever to have graced our city–The Helix and the Pike Place Market! The Helix was my primary news source at the time–the only one to be trusted–and saving The Market among my first civic awakenings.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I havent seen a Helix in decades, and was impressed by the quality of the journalism. The prose is so much better than what is published in both mainstream and alternative papers today.

  3. Lots of fond memories of the Market, although I stopped going downtown to shop by the ’70’s. Food Giant was too close & had everything I needed & more.
    I do remember the first time my roommate & I decided to take the bus downtown from the U.District in ’64 during our first year at the University of Washington. We had an apartment across the street from campus in the 4200 block of 15th ave. n.e. We were able to put together $20, which got us a lobster, french bread, lots of veggies, fresh eggs, & lots of fruit.
    It was quite an experience for these two Eastern Washington boys new to the big city…

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