Goodnight, Seattle. A story in pictures
And three KUOW reporters, setting out to explore a darker side of Seattle — the one that comes to life after most of the city tucks in for the night.
They rode the 4 a.m. ferry with construction workers, walked Pike Place Market with the night watchman, and found out where dogs go when police arrest their owners at night.
Below are photos taken through the night (several nights, actually) in the Seattle area.
7:54 p.m. Bedtime at overnight daycare
We met people who work the graveyard shift, who told us about the trade-offs they make with family life, sleep and safety.
Tiffany Montgomery drops her five children at childcare around dinnertime. She works overnight at a liquor distribution warehouse and sometimes grabs a nap before her shift starts.
Her husband also works nights. Montgomery’s oldest child is nine; Avalon, who is 10 months old, is the youngest. After a month on this schedule, the family is still adjusting.
Above, Aqbal Kowaie rocks Avalon to sleep at overnight daycare.
7:59 p.m. The octopus is awake
Michelle Arnett, night biologist at the Seattle Aquarium, works in semi-darkness, because it’s nighttime for the animals, too. Simulated moonlight shines into some of the tanks.
Arnett talks to one of the harbor seals, asking why up it’s so late. Bailey, the octopus, is also sleepless. Some fur seals appear to be awake, too.
[Read the story and see more photos: Why's the octopus awake? Night at the Seattle Aquarium]
8:36 p.m. She doesn't mind the drunks
Melinda Miner, above, usually hits the road around 11 p.m. and drives until sunup. She keeps a basket in the back seat stocked with water bottles, candy and little packets of Tylenol.
“I love my drunks!" Miner says. "I appreciate the fact that they're not driving.”
In the dim glow of city lights, passengers vent their worries, and rides sometimes end with a motherly hug.
"I think there's a lot of rawness late at night," she says. "Humanity really comes out late at night.”
[Read the story: It’s carpool karaoke (and free Tylenol) with this Seattle night driver]
9:34 p.m. Sundown in Seattle
Across the U.S., 16 percent of workers do not work daytime schedules, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top jobs on the night shift include janitors, registered nurses, cooks, truck drivers, cashiers and waiters.
We searched the listings for night jobs in Seattle and found intriguing prospects: beer brewer, security K9 patrol, bail bondsman, mobile phlebotomist. (Mobile phlebotomist!)
9:37 p.m. Security and marshmallows at a tiny house village
Volunteers guard the front gate 24/7 at the tiny house village in Georgetown. At night, that means people who learned to 'sleep with one eye open’ on the street can let down their guards and get a good night’s rest.
“Lack of sleep among people experiencing homelessness is a silent epidemic,” said Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
[Read the story: ‘One eye open.’ Sleepless in a Seattle tent]
10:05 p.m. In the night kitchen
Guy Patrice stacks trays during the night shift at Franz Bakery on 6th Avenue.
Inside the plant, there is a bread line and a bun line. Conveyor belts wind past dough-mixing machines, ovens and packaging lines, with workers at each station. Temperatures can reach 100 degrees inside the factory during the summer.
Production Supervisor Dave Gallegos estimates they bake 48,000 to 50,000 loaves of bread during the 8-hour night shift.
Rob Ross, a second-generation night shift baker, grew up in this industry.
"My father Andrew Ross started in this industry in 1955. I remember sticking my hand in the bread trough, 2 or 3 years old, picking up bread and eating it," he said.
He got hired right after graduating from Aberdeen High School in 1981. "I've been working here ever since," he said.
12:03 a.m. Back at the aquarium
12:50 a.m. He keeps playing that song
If you think dating in Seattle is tough, try the night shift. Most overnight workers heaved a big sigh when we asked. Although we did find a few night nurses who met at work and started dating. One couple recently married.
We also spotted a female police officer on a midnight lunch date at Denny’s. It looked promising. She had a hot chocolate; her date ordered black coffee.
2:16 a.m. She empties 600 wastebaskets
We started this project after learning that immigrants — and women in particular — work more nights and weekends.
Many, like the woman above, told us they sometimes feel invisible to “day walkers,” who may not consider the overnight work that keeps the city running.
Night shift workers can also face extra health and safety risks.
Sofia, the janitor pictured above, massaged her hands after her cleaning shift, working out the aches. She's thrown out her back on this job. We spoke to another female janitor who felt stuck with a supervisor who continuously sexually harassed her.
[Read about Fatima and Sofia: Who runs the night shift? Seattle's immigrant women]
4:00 a.m. Here come the riders
One of the earliest ferries bound for Seattle is the 4:10 from Southworth. During warm months, a swarm of motorcycle riders crowds the front-loading area.
Most drivers snooze in their cars, but the men (and one woman) on their bikes head for the warmth of the passenger deck. Most know each other — if not by name, then at least by what they ride.
4:18 a.m. Beecher's before dawn
Here's something we were delighted to see: The Seattle Freeze thaws after dark. People we approached at their night jobs were eager to talk.
Between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., we stopped in unannounced at a cheese shop, bread factory, vet clinic, grocery store, gym, casino and many other places where workers welcomed us in.
Not everyone wanted to be interviewed, but nobody brushed us off. And people who told us to call back tomorrow did not flake out.
Perhaps because there’s a solitary feeling at night, and also a feeling of camaraderie with anyone who's awake, company and conversation are not so easily turned away.
4:25 a.m. Back on the ferry. There are 144 people aboard, nearly all men.
On board, it’s a sea of Carhartts, fluorescent hoodies and reflective vests. Many here are part of the early morning construction workforce, ready to pick up where the night shift ends.
4:36 a.m. Ferry friends
Joe Anthony, Tim Radebaugh, Wayne Hegg and Jesse Lee-Walsh lounged in their usual booth.
“Over time you get to know people,” said Radebaugh, who commutes on his Harley. “It's a whole community.”
Radebaugh and Hegg, both truck drivers, met through work. They described Jesse as “a loner” who sat by himself until the crew invaded his space one morning.
“We basically adopted Jesse,” Radebaugh chuckled.
“And you’ve been kicking yourself ever since,” Jesse teased back.
5:14 a.m. Here comes the sun
Most of us see our city in a similar light, by day and by night. But when we flip the schedule, like a snow globe turned over, another world is illuminated.
The Night Shift team includes reporters Esmy Jimenez, Casey Martin and Kate Walters. Megan Farmer took the photographs, and Liz Jones conceptualized and edited the series. Read and listen to the Night Shift series.