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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Flying fish and ghosts. The tales and history of Pike Place Market on its 115th birthday.

By Alyse Messmer-Smith Bellingham Herald

Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions, and as the market celebrated its 115th birthday on Wednesday, we’re uncovering some of the lesser-known history and haunted tales of the market.


Pike Place Market’s website keeps a detailed history of its origins, as well as the man who created the market thousands travel to every year.

Pike Place Market was first imagined by Thomas Revelle, a Seattle City Council member. Revelle’s ordinance to create the public market was passed by the Seattle City Council on Aug. 5, 1907.

The Pike Place Market first opened on Aug. 17, 1907 when farmers brought their wagons full of produce from the countryside to Seattle.

In 1971 the Pike Place Market Historic District and a market historical commission was created as Seattle citizens voted to preserve the market’s “physical and unique social character.” The market is now operated by the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority.

“What started as a small market has evolved into the largest continuously operating public farmers market in the U.S. with 500 small businesses, 450 residents, five social services, a foundation and hundreds of talented crafters, farmers and performers,” a press release from the market states.

Haunted tales

Pike Place Market is known not only for its local delicacies, but also for its ghostly visitors and haunted tales.

Seattle Terrors, a Seattle-based ghost tour company believes that ghosts tied into Pike Place Market’s history still visit the market today and have been seen by citizens.

Princess Angeline was part of the Duwamish Native American tribe who were forced out of the Seattle area to live on reservations. Instead of following her tribe she stayed in her cabin until she died at the age of 85. It is said that you can still see her at the market today, as it was built on land where her cabin once stood.

“Fat Lady Barber” is another well-known, darker tale from Pike Place Market. Fat Lady Barber is known for walking around at night and singing customers to sleep in order to steal money and valuables out of their pockets. Today cleaners at the market say they have heard someone singing lullabies to them when they are alone at the market.

Arthur Goodwin was a nephew of the developer of Pike Place Market who later ran the market as its director. Some say you can still see Goodwin upstairs in the library, looking down on the market or swinging a golf club where his office used to be.

Celebrate its birthday

Those who visited the market Wednesday enjoyed pastries from Pike Place Bakery, watched fish being thrown at the Pike Place Fish Market, got fresh berries from Sidhu Farms, indulged in Pacific Northwest seafood from Jack’s Fish and Chips or grabbed a bouquet of local flowers from Lee Lor Garden. A complete directory of the market’s artists, vendors and restaurants is on the market’s website.

The market offered free donuts, coffee, hot chocolate and tea from local vendors to the first 115 visitors on Wednesday to celebrate its birthday. Visitors at the market tent below the historic market sign and clock at 9 a.m. got the free breakfast.

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