Pike Place is haunted by the ghosts of children.
Mercedes Carrabba is a second generation vendor at Pike Place. She says the nine acre Pike Place district “is the most haunted location in the city, if not possibly the state.”
Carrabba owns Ghosts Alley Expresso. And she’s the keeper of the Pike Place ghost stories, because she knows them first hand.
“My espresso shop has been haunted since day one,” she says.
Carrabba says it’s haunted by a man who used to spend a lot of time at dancehall at Pike Place during World War II.
There are men who haunt Pike Place, but Carrabba says there are also actually a lot of child ghosts here too.
“People see children up in the main arcades wearing knickers and little white shirts and they’re darting between people or crossing Pike Place. There are children that are seen on the lower levels, quite a few of them actually and some of the shops have named them,” Carrabba says.
One of those shops is Merry Tails. It’s a shop for animal lovers, filled with stuffed animals and animal themed purses, wallets and socks. The shop’s owner, Becky Lindley says a 4-year-old boy haunts her shop. She’s named him Jacob.
Lindley says he’s broken clocks before and moved around things in the shop.
Lindley’s employees nod as she tells me about Jacob. From behind the cash register, Nikkie Jabro Wentz says she’s felt someone poking her legs before and tugging on her apron.
“It’s just very weird, unexplainable, no one around me,” she says.
Carrabba leads me behind the cash register and past a draped sheet that divides the shop from the dark storage area, also known as “Jacob’s Room.” Back here is a bed. The store’s owner has dedicated it for Jacob the ghost, as a way to pacify his spirit. It’s an antique blue wagon cradle with some toys on it.
“You’ll see there’s all sorts of little stuffed animals and balls and some coins, bouncy balls, Slinkys, notes. These are all gifts that children in Seattle have given to the ghost of Jacob. What’s amazing about some of these items is they do not stay here. They’ll be found in the other room we just came from, unexplainably,” Carrabba says.
And there are more child ghost stories at Pike Place. Like a girl at Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub.
“She’s a cute little girl with red hair who scares everybody. She haunts the stairs that go between the levels,” Carrabba says.
Or a boy who has been seen by the night janitor and a teacher when the Pike Place Childcare & Preschool was on the third level of the building. They used to see a little boy hiding in the shops.
“He’s all the time playing hide and seek, but when you see him, he’s got brown hair and he has no eyes,” Carrabba says.
There are others.
Carrabba takes me to the market theater, where a corner is devoted to the ghosts of children that were in theater.
“It is said that you can hear them laughing in the back corner and those seats are empty for them at every show,” she said. “The piano that is next to the stage in the theater, when people are practicing on the stage and doing rehearsals sometimes, it’s like a small hand moves over the keys and there’s just a little tink tink tink tink tink.
“Like a very small hand is playing the keys of the piano. And it’s though that those children were probably orphans.”
Where do these children come from?
Carrabba says in the early 1900s, when Pike Place was in its infancy, men outnumbered women in Seattle. The men were transient.
“This was a working man’s town and those men were going on to timber, to fishing, to eventually gold rush, so it was this constant motion of people in the city and there were a lot of children that just found themselves on the streets and by 1901 the YMCA actually had a mission to help orphan children and they used what is now the market theater to house some of them,” Carrabba says.
Carrabba says that history explains why there are so many child ghosts at Pike Place Market. They are left over from our Wild West days when the city was growing, everyone was trying to make their way, and many children were left to fend for themselves.
And some of them are still here, haunting the shops, hallways and corners of Pike Place Market.