Walk through the Pike Place Market and notice the theater that permeates its Arcades; the fish monger in his sloshing boots and heavy apron, the busker signing, the waiter rushing by – a bag of ice dripping at his side and the craftspeople calling out numbers at morning roll call. Now notice the backdrop in which it all takes place; the painted walls, the tiled floors, the ornate columns, the red cobblestones and the lights throughout the Market. No wonder so many people fall in love with the Market.
As a tour guide I get to share stories about the people who helped create it. On rare occasions, like today, I get to give tours to direct descendants of the people I talk about. Today I am giving a tour to the Goodwin family, relatives of the first owners of the Pike Place Market whose spirits are still sensed in the Market; in the daily operations and design.
The Market opened on August 17, 1907 and quickly expanded thanks to the Goodwin Real Estate Company. They owned the land surrounding the area. The Goodwin brothers, Frank, Ervin and John, became the majority stake holders in the Market. They built the Arcades to shelter the farmers. They expanded the Market in all directions and built the Lower Levels. Frank Goodwin shared the same day of birth as the Market. He was born August 17, 1865.
“In 1907, Seattle Councilman Thomas Revelle organized local farmers to sell fresh produce out of the backs of their wagons on Pike Street. As commonly happens in Seattle, it rained. The farmers petitioned for shelter, but the city had no funds. Frank was on hand for opening day and saw the crowds. He drew a sketch for a shed to extend from the Leland Hotel north on company property along the west bank of the bluff. After consultation with his brothers, he refined the plan, dividing the area into seventy-six stalls. By November 30, 1907, the building was complete, every stall rented.” ancestry.com
His nephew, Arthur Goodwin, is credited as designing the interior of the Market. He was the son of a Shakespearian actor from New York City. The columns, ornate walkways, and thousands of lights in the original Arcade (south of the Pig) are all credited to Arthur Goodwin.
“His presence is everywhere in the Pike Place Market. The brightly-colored flowers that today poke from boxes above the main arcade were his idea. The cozy arrangement of stalls with their orderly cornucopias of edibles was his work. Even having troubadours to serenade patrons was his concept. But as the market nears its 75th anniversary, little is remembered of this merchandising pioneer who made Pike Place what it is today. His name was Arthur E. Goodwin, and from 1925 to 1933 he owned the collage of stalls that today is one of Seattle’s top tourist attractions.” Elizabeth Rhodes, Seattle Times, 1982
I met Kerry Serl, a descendant of Frank Goodwin, in 2007 at the Market’s 100 year anniversary. We have remained friends since. This is the third tour I have given her family. What has drawn us together is our mutual love of history. In the time I have know her she has been archiving films that Arthur Goodwin made. She has been going through letters that Frank wrote and discovering countless articles about her family, like the one posted here written in 1910.
The Pike Place Market has gone through a lot of change in 105 years of operation. There are no more share holders today. It is a national historic district and functions more like a small city, governed by a Council. However the personalities are just as vibrant. Frank Goodwin was known for his thick black hair and moustache. Arthur wore a top hat to work and danced through the Arcades. It’s easy to imagine their spirits still in the Pike Place Market. Certainly their determination in making the Market a success remains.
– Mercedes Carrabba, Market Ghost Tours & Espresso, 1499 Post Alley in the Pike Place Market.