Eds. Note — Bess Lovejoy just wrote a wonderful and spooky guidebook on where to find PNW ghosts, Northwest Know-How: Haunts, available now through Sasquatch Books. We asked her to give us a quick tour of some of those spots. (We also recommend you listen to her interview with KUOW’s Seattle Now podcast.) Happy haunting!
Seattle’s got more than its fair share of ghosts. Some say it’s the rainy weather that lures them out (apparently ghosts love the damp), while others point to our rough, resource-based economy of yore, which was prone to violent accidents amid all that logging, mining, and fishing. One thing’s for sure: many of our ghosts make for great stories, whether it’s the local women activists of the former Harvard Exit or the screaming blue face that likes to manifest itself on the wall at the U-District’s Neptune Theatre. In a city that’s seen so much change, many of our ghosts are poignant reminders of days gone by—memories of the many layers beneath our shiny modern city.
📸: Adam Kubota
Built in 1902 to accommodate a major salmon canning operation, Pier 70 underwent a big remodel in 1999, a year after it served as the set for MTV’s Real World Seattle. It’s now home to sleek office buildings, restaurants, and a tiny but adorable Uptown Espresso.
The most famous ghost here is that of a bearded young sailor—possibly one who was murdered back when Seattle’s waterfront was significantly rougher and home to fewer $7 lattes. “Paddy,” as the ghost has been named, shows up in a peacoat and slouched cap, and used to be seen around closing time and in restroom mirrors back when the place was home to a Pier 1 Imports. Even though Paddy’s end might have been grisly, he’s also known for bringing a message of hope: He appears to depressed folks who come to the pier thinking of ending their lives, chatting with them until they feel better. But when people turn around to thank him, Paddy’s long gone.
Other strangeness has been reported around Pier 70, too: ghost ships floating around the harbor (supposedly a portent of disaster); a Native American man walking along the water’s edge before suddenly vanishing (supposedly witnessed by dozens of people in 1933); and a pillar of smoke swirling above a chair in a shop, like an “entity trying to manifest itself.” We’re not quite sure what that means, but it seems like bad—or at least very spooky—news?
Pike Place Market
📸: Adam Kubota
The market might just be the most ghost-packed place in the city, which may not be surprising considering it’s been around since 1907. Once upon a time, shop owners saw an older Native American woman wearing her hair in braids and sometimes surrounded by a glowing white light. Some who saw her assumed she was living, only to then notice her feet weren’t quite touching the ground. Others have described her as translucent or wearing a dress that changed hue from lavender to pink. According to a 1983 column in The Seattle Times by Rick Anderson, there’s a curse attached to this figure: supposedly, everyone who’s seen her has died or mysteriously disappeared.
The market has also been home to frequent sightings of Princess Angeline, who may or may not be the same woman just described. Princess Angeline was Chief Seattle’s oldest daughter; she was born Kikisoblu but later renamed by pioneer Catherine Maynard. (In a racist move, Mrs. Maynard reportedly deemed Kikisoblu “too beautiful” to “carry around” her birth name.) Princess Angeline/Kikisoblu lived in a shack on Western Avenue near the market, where she brought handicrafts to sell. People sometimes see her today near the flower vendors, sitting on the floor and selling her wares. But when they go to buy something, she vanishes.
Of course, the market is not just haunted by Native American women. There’s also a World War II-era swing dancer, a little boy who tosses around beads in the Bead Zone, and a “fat woman ghost” who haunts the lower levels. Legend has it she’s the ghost of a barber who used to rob her clients, and she fell through the floor to her death.
Comet Lodge Cemetery
📸: Adam Kubota
Originally a Duwamish burial ground, Comet Lodge—right off I-5 near Georgetown—was a cemetery for the city’s early settlers in the late 19th century. The last recorded burial took place there in 1936. Since then, the place has had a tumultuous history. In 1987, much of the cemetery was bulldozed and sold for redevelopment, including the area where children had been buried. Today, there are reports that the cemetery suffers from a bad case of that classic horror movie trope: “You only moved the headstones!”
There’s nothing more unnerving than a little-kid ghost, and the grounds around Comet Lodge are reportedly full of ‘em. People who visit the cemetery these days sometimes hear the tinkling of little kids laughing. And the residents of homes around the cemetery have seen children dressed in 19th-century clothing pop up around their houses at night. One woman who collected dolls said she’s frequently found them strewn about the house as if they’d been played with. And one poor little (living) boy was repeatedly admonished by his parents for leaving his toys around the house, only to explain that the disarray was caused by another little boy who would visit him in the middle of the night in old-fashioned clothes.
Sadly, the cemetery has also been the site of repeated vandalism. On a recent visit, many of the remaining 20 or so headstones were spray-painted or papered over with posters yelling at Bruce Harrell.
📸: Adam Kubota
For some reason—maybe it’s the buttered popcorn smell?—ghosts seem to love theaters. And the ones at the Neptune, built in 1921 in the University District, are pretty memorable. There’s a “smoking ghost” who leaves clouds of tobacco around and likes to “flirt” with women by pinching their behinds; a screaming blue face who births itself out of the wall; and a woman in a dark gown who floats around just a few inches off the floor, randomly terrifying people.
A few decades ago, a janitor reported that he liked to summon up the ghost of a gray lady to follow him around as he cleaned, because her cold spot functioned as a portable air-conditioner. (No word on how he summoned her, exactly—maybe janitorial supplies have previously unknown occult powers?)
Then there’s the organ loft, where people have reported an “inhuman presence.” Others have described the figure as a woman with dark hair, wearing white and surrounded by white light.
The men’s restroom, like many men’s restrooms, is known as a place of indescribable fear. People report being overcome with a sudden sense that they have to get out of there—to fresh air, perhaps?
📸: Adam Kubota
The Mexican Consulate on Capitol Hill may not look like much right now, but it’s got a wonderful history. The building was constructed for the Woman’s Century Club in 1925; the organization was founded in 1891 by local women activists working to secure the right to vote, among other causes. Bertha Landes, Seattle’s first female mayor, was club president from 1918-1920, and the group sponsored a visit by Amelia Earhart in 1933. In the 1960s, the building was transformed into the Harvard Exit, which for decades was one of Seattle’s most elegant and artsiest theaters.
When it comes to spooks today, the site is mainly known for its Century Club ghosts. Landes is said to haunt it (she’s also been seen as an apparition at the Smith Tower, by the way). People have seen women dressed in turn-of-the-century garb roaming the halls, and in the 1970s, one theater manager opened up one morning to find the fireplace burning and the chairs drawn into a circle—as if the club members had just finished holding a meeting.