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History & Haunting of Pike Place Market

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Pike Place Market vintage postcard

Pike Place Market vintage postcard.


The Pike Place Market in Seattle is not only a great place to shop but also the most haunted place in Seattle, if not all of Washington state.

The Pike Place Market has a long history, having been created in 1907.  It all began when rumors of price fixing began to circulate.  As a result, 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 eager for fairly priced fresh food that they swarmed over the first dozen 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.  His arcade opened on November 30, 1907.

The Outlook Hotel and the Triangle Market were built the following year. Growing demand led the city to extend the shelter in 1911 and hired the first "Market Master” whose job was to run the daily lottery for assigning stalls to competing farmers and vendors. In that first decade an number of multi-level buildings were constructed, most of which continue to make up the permanent arcades of the market today.

The Great Depression had little impact on the market, as it offered the cheapest food in town.  In fact, during this time, the market actually expanded.




Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Pike Place market today, photo by Stéphane Gauthier, University of Washington.


After the depression, a number of hotels, restaurants and theaters soon popped up in the area prompting Seattle to claim that Pike Place was "The Finest Public Market In The World."

The market continued to thrive through World War II, and in 1941 the main arcades were purchased by an Italian farmer by the name of Joe Desimone. However, 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.

While 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 slated for demolition. However, a Seattle architect soon rallied a group and began the "Save the Market” campaign.  On November 2, 1971, voters approved a 17-acre historic district and the City of Seattle established a Public Development Authority to rehabilitate and manage the Market's core buildings.


Today, the historic Pike Place Market, overlooking Seattle's waterfront, is one of the most visited attractions in the city.  Here, you can find fresh foods of every kind, from a wide variety of colorful produce, to fresh fish and herbs.  Numerous other vendors sell flowers by the dozens, beautiful arts and crafts, and Seattle souvenirs. 

Regarded by many as to be the seat of Seattle’s "soul,” the market displays items from some 600 vendors on a daily basis in one of the city’s most historic districts.


Speaking of "soul,” or "souls," I should say, the market is apparently home to more than just its many vendors and historic flavor, but is said to continue to host a number of restless spirits.


One of the market’s most famous and popular visitors is Princess Angeline, the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle.  Her Duwamish name was actually 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, Princess Angeline ignored the order and remained in the city.


Pike Place Market in 1911

Pike Place Market in 1911, photo courtesy University of Washington Library


Princess Angeline House on the Seattle Waterfront

Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle at home in

1890, photo courtesy University of Washington Library


Living in a waterfront cabin on Western Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets, she was considered by many to be the link that connected the Native Americans of the area with the new settlers of the city.  Angeline made her living taking in laundry and selling hand-woven baskets on the downtown streets of Seattle.


Becoming a familiar figure, The bent and wrinkled old woman, most often seen with a red handkerchief over her head, a shawl around her shoulders, and walking slowly with the aid of a cane, became a familiar site along the waterfront.During this time a young photographer by the name of Edward Curtis became intrigued by her and often took pictures of her.


At the age of 85 on May 31, 1896, Princess Angeline died and Seattle residents gave her a fine funeral and burial.  The 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.  Her body lays in rest at Lake View Cemetery on Capitol Hill.


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