History, Haunting and Secrets of Seattle’s Pike Place Market~8 min read
The Pike Place Market in Seattle is, of course, a good place to shop, but also the most haunted place in Seattle, if not throughout the Washington state. The upstairs of Pike Place Market in Seattle bustles with tourists buying fresh produce and crafts, but the downstairs is something stranger: its walls are filled with shops that seem to belong to another time.
Its story started when rumors of price fixing began to circulate and, as a result, eight farmers determined to cut out greedy middleman and sell their wares directly to the public. So, the Seattle City Council soon established a public market along the newly constructed four-block boardwalk known as Pike Place. On opening day, August 17, 1907, residents were so excited for fairly priced fresh food that they literally assaulted the first farmers, emptying their cars within just a few minutes. Before long, a Pike Place landowner named Frank Goodwin, who had earned his wealth with Klondike gold, built the first marketplace building, opened on November 30 on the same year.
The Great Depression had little impact on the market, as it offered the cheapest food in town and during this time, the market actually expanded. After this period, a number of hotels, restaurants and theaters soon opened their door across the area prompting Seattle to claim that Pike Place was “The Finest Public Market In The World.”
The market continued to thrive also through World War II even if, during the 1940’s and ‘50’s, the market began to decline due to the increased numbers of motor vehicles and the advent of supermarkets in the suburbs.
However, even if the market continued to hold on, primarily supported by a community of arts and crafts people, by the 1960’s the maze of aging buildings was intended for demolition. It was a Seattle architect who began the “Save the Market” campaign and on November 2, 1971, the City of Seattle established a Public Development Authority to rehabilitate and manage the Market’s core buildings.
Today, the historic Pike Place Market, with its characteristic Seattle waterfront view, is one of the most visited attractions in the city. Here, you can find fresh foods of every kind, a wide variety of colorful produce, but also fresh fish and herbs, while other vendors sell flowers, beautiful arts and crafts, and Seattle souvenirs. Regarded by many as to be the seat of Seattle’s soul, the market displays every day items from some 600 vendors in one of the city’s most historic districts.
Ok. Probably most of guides will tell you where to buy the best cheese in the market, or when to catch the guys at Pike Place Fish Co. doing their aerial show. But here is a short guide to the more unusual corners and picturesque of Pike Place.
For example…you can find the Gum Wall. For some it could be art. Anyway, the Gum Wall has been around since the early 1990s, when some clients in line for an improv show at the Market Theatre got bored and decided to squish their gum against the brick wall. Somehow the practice became popular, and the blobs of gum in all shapes and colors are glued on the wall and continues into a nearby alley. The gum has been scraped off several times, but around 1999, market authorities decided to preserve it as an attraction. It’s now a frequent stop for tour groups, and one the first location for one of the market’s many ghost tours. But, really, It’s also a strangely popular place for wedding photos….
In the mysterious Tenzing MoMo shop there are giant amber jars filled with herbs, hundreds of bottles of essential oils, and packets of incense from all over the world and the shop always seems more dimly lit than the rest of the market. Knowledgable staff will custom-blend teas and oils, and on-site tarot readers tend to existential problems.
The Pike Place Magic Shop, said to be the longest-running magic shop in the Pacific Northwest, is coated with images of legendary early 20th-century magicians. Outside, a giant folder holds stacks of beautiful vintage posters, while a mysterious mannequin will tell your fortune for few cents.
About vintage, opened in 1976 by a former rare book dealer, Old Seattle Paperworks is stuffed with old postcards, posters, advertisements, magazines, photographs, and other similar items. Whether it’s aviation history, motors, old medical ads, or vintage pin-ups you’re after, they’ll have it! Even if it is not clear how they can fit into the 46-square-meters shop…
However, it seems that the market is home not only to its many vendors, its historic flavors and its oddities, but also to some of restless spirits…
One of the market’s most popular visitors is Princess Angeline, the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle. Her Duwamish name (the Duwamish are a Native American tribe in western Washington) was Kikisoblu, but the early settlers of Seattle dubbed her “princess” and so she was called during most of her lifetime. Though the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott required that all Duwamish Indians were to leave their lands for reservations, the Princess ignored the order and remained in the city. She lived in a waterfront cabin on Western Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets, and made her living taking in laundry and selling hand-woven baskets on the downtown streets of Seattle. The bent and wrinkled old woman, most often seen with a red handkerchief over her head, a shawl around her shoulders, who walked slowly with the aid of a cane, became soon a familiar character along the waterfront and during this time a young photographer, Edward Curtis, became intrigued by her and often took some pictures.
At the age of 85 on May 31, 1896, Princess Angeline died and Seattle residents gave her a fine funeral and burial. Her funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of Good Help which was magnificently decorated and her casket was made in the form of canoe and her body rest at Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill.
But Angeline was apparently not ready to leave this world, as she has been spotted at the Pike Market for decades. As story goes, the market was built upon the site of her former cabin, and is said to remain the home of her restless spirit. Over the years, many people have reported seeing her, believing that she is a person in the flesh, until she suddenly disappeared right before their eyes. Just like the real Angeline, this spirit is said to move very slowly as if her feet barely touch the ground, and other have reported that the figure sometimes changes colors from a glowing white shade to lavender, blue and pink. It seems, she is most often spotted near a wooden column in the center of the lower level and several have reported that the column itself is surrounded by cold air and that photographs have displayed abnormalities. Others have seen her near the old Goodwill store, and even if several exorcism attempts have been made by a Native American Shaman, Angeline continues to roam the market.
But Angeline is not alone. In fact, also the restless spirit of Arthur Goodwin, the nephew of original Pike Place Market developer Frank Goodwin, has also been spotted around the market. Arthur helped Frank in the continued development of the market since its early days and, from 1918 to 1941, he held the job of Market Director. He was often known to look down upon the happenings of the market from his upper-level office. Now called the Goodwin Library and utilized as a meeting room, Arthur’s silhouette is often seen looking down from the library and he has also been seen while would swing a golf club in his old office.
Another story tells about a spirit, most often referred to as the “Fat Lady Barber,” who continues to lurk in the market at night. Evidently, in the 1950’s this fat barber was known to sing her customers to sleep with soft lullabies, and after they were comfortably snoozing, she took any cash in their pockets. However, sometime later, before the renovations were made to the market in the 1970’s, an area in the floor gave way and she fell, meeting her death. Today, maintenance workers report that they hear the sounds of her lullabies when they are cleaning at night.
However, several shops inside the historic market tell a variety of stories. For example, at the Bead Emporium, a small boy is said to continue to haunt the area. When renovations were completed on the business a few years ago, a basket of beads was found in a wall that had not been accessed for many years, before the store itself even opened. It is believed that the little boy was hoarding the beads in the wall to play with. Moreover, other strange things happen at night: the cash register drawer opening and closing of its own accord, and the same little spirit has also been known to visit the marionettes in the puppet shop.
It seems that Sheila’s Magic Shop is also to be haunted by the spirit of a woman who inhabits a crystal ball. Know as Madame Nora, this restless spirit haunted a shop called Pharaoh’s Treasure before landing at Sheila’s. As the story goes, Pharaoh’s Treasure received the crystal ball from an old woman who wanted to trade it for a scarab. Even if the old woman warned the shop owner that the spirit of Madame Nora was residing in the crystal ball, the owner thought little of it and made the exchange. Almost immediately, unexplainable things began to happen, like numerous objects being moved during the night. Madame Nora is said to have been the owner of a place called the Temple of Destiny in the early days of the market. Known to have practiced crystal gazing, Egyptian sand divining, and Indian psychic projection, she evidently continues to leave her paranormal imprint still today. Weary and bored with the strange occurrences in Pharaoh’s Treasure, the crystal ball was passed on to the owner on to Sheila’s Magic Shop.
At a Greek deli called Mr. D’s in the triangle building, the owner tells of spirits who are known to fight in a downstairs walk-in freezer. Some of his staff are so frightened of the spirits, they refused to go in there!
At the Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore the owners would arrive every morning to find the same book off the shelf and on the floor. Brushing it off each day, it was placed back on the shelf, only to find it on the floor again the next morning. At the end, the book was destroyed.
Whether you’re looking to see a ghost, shop or simply watch the myriad of interesting people in a very characteristic place, Pike Place Market is undoubtedly a “must see” if you are in Seattle!
Official Website: www.pikeplacemarket.org
Author’s note: the first source is my brother. unfortunately I’ve never been here, and all the photos come from the web. Contact Information below
Pike Place Market
85 Pike Street, Room 500
Seattle, Washington 98101