It was Good Friday and I decided to drive down to Pike Place Market. To my surprise, I found more than a gallery of gum, flowers, and gift shops. By the end of the day, I learned so much more about this place including spooky tales and native stories. I left with knowledge about the people who make up Seattle’s famous farmers market today, and about those who used to brought the place alive over a hundred years ago. However, this knowledge may not always be considered conventional. After getting a taste of the market’s history one might find the place more than a little weird, I know I do.
The market was first opened in 1907 to serve the people of Seattle. It was built on top of grave sites and near to an underground railway tunnel which still exists but is no longer in use. There are many odd stories weaved through the living history of The Pike Place Market. We all know about the romantic waterfront views and the quirky artist, craftspeople, and farmers who run businesses at the many levels in and around the Market. But how many people know the significant histories and urban legends? I went to visit my favorite shops and found out about the spirited ghostly stories that contribute to this eerie -yet romantic tourist destination.
Seemingly Normal Musical Spring Shopping
My idea was to do some lite shopping. I picked up a few staples like local honey and a good book. It happened to be Easter weekend and tons of people were enjoying coffees, specialty pastries, and fresh-cut tulips. The rain fell intermittent with breaks of sunshine and walkways were very crowded. Music played on the streets from the buskers who smiled and laughed as they serenaded the people with their guitars, flutes, and washboard instruments.
Despite the fact that all I had was surface knowledge, I felt proud that Seattle is my city and so rich in culture and artistic talent. I visited my all-time-favorite shops with the plan to write this guide: Meet the Producers of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. However, what I found to be most inspiring was walking away with a little yellow book…
Seattle’s Best Mocha is in Ghost Alley
There was a sign that touted “Best Mocha in Seattle” and thought I’d better see if they could hold true to this statement. My brother and I walked into Ghost Alley Espresso for a couple of mocha drinks. While waiting, I browsed the basket with a book titled Seattle’s Market Ghost Stories by Mercedes Yaeger. The baristas made us some very fine drinks. Finally, someone knows how to make a mocha! (It had not too much sugar, the use of real chocolate mixed with delicious espresso, and milk). I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it. After finishing up the mocha I walked to the counter to purchase the book.
The back of it reads that these ghosts stories are not for children, and “The Pike Place Market has been called the ‘SOUL’ of Seattle. Now meet the ‘SOULS’ of Seattle.” Curiosity peaked my interest. Upon checkout, I got the book signed by the Author. She happened to be manning the register and the owner of this espresso shop: lucky me.
Mysterious Stories of Pike Place
The Author grew up in the community and published these stories coming from oral traditions, as well as, quotes from official resources. I wished the book was broken up into chapters but it was a short and absolutely intriguing read. I turned page after page, excited to know more about these spirits that purportedly hang out between the walls of the market.
They are tales of ghosts that are thought to be spirits of employees back in the day. Adjacent to the market on First Avenue is a historical building that used to be Butterworths Mortuary. Naturally, I guess a mortuary would be a bit haunted? She explains how several tenants have quickly moved out of that space. Wondering if the spirits were the ones to make them uncomfortable enough to vacate both quickly and often. Within the lower levels of the Market, a shop called the Bead Zone has legends of a ghost who often moved things around their shop.
Ghost Themed Tours
Both the Bead Zone and Butterworth Building are included in Yaeger’s seasonal Ghost Tour of Pike Place Market. I’ll definitely add that to my bucket list. Reading her book is another way to take a ghost tour and delve into Seattle’s earlier years. Yaeger includes some Native American history, including how Chief Seattle didn’t want the city to be named after him. The Chief’s own Duwamish people didn’t get to own any property within city limits until the year 2009.
Gross. These struggles are still going on today, although most of Seattle’s residents are probably unaware of them. I’m happy to have read Mercedes Yaeger’s book. I got a taste of these eerie ghost stories, a mocha, and an unexpected introduction into Seattle’s history that is very well alive and pungent today. Next time you’re at Pike Place, make sure to stop by Ghost Alley Espresso (located at Post Alley) and inquire about these so-called ghosts!