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By the early 1960’s, the Market we know today had seen better days. Seattle’s mayor called it a “somnolent fire trap.” Downtown business leaders and property developers were eager to use federal urban renewal fund to “renew” the Market by demolishing it. City Councilmember Wing Luke wrote a newspaper op-ed, calling for citizen action to preserve the Market. Architect Victor Steinbrueck and attorney Robert Ashley answered the call.
In September 1964, they brought together sixty friends for a champagne breakfast to launch the effort in Lowell’s Café (still in the Market). Architect Fred Bassetti, unable to attend, wrote that the Market was “an honest place in a phony time.” With this beginning, the enthused advocates obtained a small office space behind Deluxe Bar-B-Q (still in the Market). With a telephone line and a typewriter, Elizabeth Tanner, volunteer executive secretary and manager, began a 30-year career of service to the cause. (For a detailed understanding of the effort to keep the Market, read “Market Wars: Inside the Campaign to Save Pike Place Market”, republished in 2023.)
Case for Preservation
Wing Luke’s Seattle Times editorial laid out argume