It is a rainy late afternoon in Seattle. You decide to stop by Pike Place Market for a cup of coffee. Stepping foot into the market, you feel something shift inside of you. It is like you’re being watched, but there aren’t many people around you at all. Through the stairway, you think you hear an echo of voices that belong to nobody. Suddenly, you catch a fleeting glimpse of something moving in the corner of your eye. You realize you are not alone, but are in the presence of something – or rather, someone – unseen.
You shake off the feeling and decide to get your cup of coffee. As you walk to the cafe stand, you notice somebody following you. You turn around and see an unusual figure, but they quickly disappear into the hallway. You tell yourself it was just your imagination and get your coffee. But you can’t help but feel like you are still being watched.
That is how several visitors throughout the market’s history have claimed to feel during their strolls around its premise. Built in the early 20th century, Seattle’s great public market bears the fame of being haunted. And not just by unfamiliar, faceless spirits; the alleged ghosts have names, faces, and were once alive and wandering the city of Seattle.
Brief history of the market
In the early 1900s, the city of Seattle faced an unreasonably high cost for food, which, along with the complaints of farmers about low prices from commission houses, led the City Council to found a permanent and public farmers market on Pike Place. It officially opened in 1907. Due to the market offering the cheapest food and produce pricing in town, it was minimally impacted by the Great Depression, which, in a way, allowed Pike’s Place Market to grow even more.
However, the market’s promising history was threatened in the ‘40s and ‘50s with the advent of supermarkets, commercial centers, and cars. Its popularity began to decrease, and, during the 1960s, it verged on being demolished. In 1971, with voters’ approval, the city established the building for Public Development, and invested in its maintenance. This was achieved due to the initiative “Let’s Keep The Market” which led to protesting and collecting signatures in favor of avoiding the market’s demolition.
Nowadays, Pike Place Market is one of the most famous public markets in the world, being an essential tourist destination to any visitor in the state of Washington. Strolling through its hallways, you will notice that although it still serves its purpose of providing fresh produce and its well-known fish-tossing stands, the market is also home to plenty of arts & crafts stands, book shops, jewelry, antique stores, and, of course, a plethora of any type of Seattle souvenir you may want.
Despite its up-bringing atmosphere, the market is also home to mysterious tales of late passer-bys and vendors who casually return to the world of the living just to say hello to Pike Place’s old walls, floorings, windows… and new visitors. Through oral-history, people have shared stories of what can only be described as paranormal experiences and strange encounters. Perhaps it is the effect of the dark, misty weather, surrounded by the sound of hundreds of people coming and going on a daily basis. Or, perhaps the market does indeed share spaces with the veiled world.
Daughter of Chief Seattle, Angeline (Duwamish name Kikisoblu) lived below Pike Street through the 1850s when no other natives were allowed to reside within the city’s premises. She died on May 31, 1896, at 85 years old, and her body rests in Lake View Cemetery in Capitol Hill. She is said to be found atop the stairs at Western Avenue, near where she resided in life. People say she moves slowly and smells unpleasant.
Arthur & Frank Goodwin
Frank Goodwin, one of the original developers of the market, is said to be encountered by the Alibi stairs, and introduces himself as Frank. He may ask if you need any help getting around the market – just like he would when he was alive. Frank died in 1954.
Arthur Goodwin, Frank’s nephew, allegedly looks down from the window at what today is the Goodwin Library, but which used to be his office decades ago. It is said that he has been seen swinging a golf club in the library, for he held a membership to Washington Athletic and Broadmoor Golf clubs when alive. According to Archives West, Arthur left Seattle in 1941, moving to Salt Lake City. He died in the mid-1950s. Arthur has been said to be the resident ghost at Ghost Alley Espresso, located by the Gum Wall in the market. They even refer to Arthur as “our ghost.” Make sure to read Mercedes Carrabba’s, former owner of Ghost Alley Espresso, story on the hauntings around the coffee shop.
Kell’s Irish Pub, which is located just across the street from Pike Place Market, is said to be the most haunted pub in America. Karen McAleese, family to the pub’s owner, told the Seattle Times of a possible encounter she had with a ghost in 2005. She said that she saw a tall man who looked like he was part black and was wearing a suit jacket. The man walked to the end of the bar and then faded away. Other witnesses have observed a man who is seen in one of the second-floor windows of the pub. This man is said to wear suspenders and a newsboy hat. It is believed that he was one of the old mortuary workers. The mortuary was built in 1903 in order to handle the increasing number of bodies in the city. This was due to poor sanitation, mining accidents, and disease.
Fat Lady Barber
This, in my opinion, is one of the most disturbing ghosts that may haunt the hallways of the market. It is said that in the 1950s, a barber used to sing her customers to sleep with lullabies and then proceed to steal their wallets and cash. Allegedly, before the renovations of the market in the ‘70s, an area in the floor she worked gave in, and she fell through to her death. She is heard and seen at night, singing haunting echoes of lullabies. Cleaners at the market have said to have heard someone singing softly when they’re alone there at night. Watch your pockets if you decide to go for a night stroll around Pike Place!
The ghost of a young stable boy is said to haunt the toy store, Merry Tales, in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. He is believed to be one of the victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic which killed over a thousand people in the city. According to eyewitness accounts, the boy is playful and often throws things around the store. However, he has become more settled since the store’s owner made him a room with his own bed.
Now that you are familiar with some of the famous spirits that linger around the market, you are ready to explore Seattle’s other dimension. Pay attention to details and remember the history upon which our beloved city was built.
Perhaps the next time you decide to stop by for a cup of coffee, you will have a different appreciation for the city and the people who live – and once lived – here.
I hope you take the time to explore all that it has to offer. I’m sure you’ll find that there’s more to Seattle than meets the eye.
Sophia is an international student from Brazil, who recently moved to Seattle to pursue her higher education. Music, writing, and Science are her broadest and greatest passions. Sophia is a young classical singer, as well as an internationally published author with her book Primeira Pessoa. Despite being highly artistic and emotional, she bears great love for the Natural Sciences, and has the desire to pursue a Physics & Astronomy later in life. At the moment, she works for both the Seattle Collegian and the M. Rosetta Hunter Art Gallery. Within all forms of writing, she believes the greatest role of the writer is to bring forth the truth, the honesty, and the humanity that echoes within each one of us. Journalism, while Art, is for her a portrait of the fraternity of the Earth, in the broadest possible way.