Cherry trees in front of Pike Place Market are gone

Mar 14, 2023, 5:25 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2023, 8:03 am
Cherry trees...
Workers remove cherry trees on Pike St. Tuesday. (Feliks Banel)
(Feliks Banel)

This morning, the City of Seattle removed the storied cherry trees on Pike Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue. Mayor Bruce Harrell, who had paused the tree’s imminent removal a week ago, late last week reached a compromise with several local groups who had been advocating for the trees’ preservation.

The cherry trees, which were planted in 1980, may have had decades of life left in them, according to Seattle tree expert Arthur Lee Jacobson. Nevertheless, city officials insisted they had to be removed as part of a project to redevelop that block of Pike Street as a “curbless street” similar to Bell Street in Belltown.

Taha Ebrahimi, a Seattle woman working on a book about Seattle’s street trees, said her research showed long and deep connections between the cherry trees and Seattle’s Japanese community, as well as the city’s cultural and trade ties to Japan. With this in mind, the city agreed to install an interpretive plaque sometime in the future.

A total of eight new cherry trees will be planted along Pike Street, as well as 16 additional cherry trees elsewhere in the city — in keeping with a new city policy regarding tree replacement.

Background Report on Pike St. cherry trees

KIRO Newsradio’s earlier story reported that Pike Street between First and Second Avenue is being redeveloped to create additional bike lanes and wider sidewalks. There’s some confusion over this aspect of the story, especially what the new design of that Pike Street block includes.

Several commenters on social media and bloggers stated the bike lanes are actually going away, and that Pike Street in that block will be more of a combined space for vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians, like the “curbless street” design of Bell Street between First and Second Avenue.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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Cherry trees in front of Pike Place Market are gone