Should you find yourself on the lower level of Seattle’s Pike Place market and happen to see a bent elderly Native American woman in archaic clothing vanish next to a rough wooden column, don’t be too alarmed, you’ve just seen one of the most famous ghosts in the Pacific Northwest: Princess Angeline.
Pike place market has been a fixture in Seattle since it opened in 1907, and has become a world-famous tourist attraction along with being a great place for Seattleites to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and a plethora of other foods and products. Although the place had become run down by the sixties, and there was talk of demolishing the marketplace, a grass roots initiative grew in support of Pike Place during that decade and the Market was refurbished in the seventies. Today, the Market is as popular as ever and over 10 million people visit Pike Place every year.
The living are not the only people to visit the market, though, if the reports are to be believed. Several spirits are said to haunt Pike Place Market, but the most famous of them is undoubtedly Princess Angeline.
Princess, so named by the white settlers of the area because she was the eldest daughter of Chief Seathle, the Duwamish Indian leader that the city of Seattle is named after, once lived in a small cabin located where the market place now stands. When the government told the Duwamish that they were going to have to move to a reservation in 1855, Princess Angeline simply ignored them and went on living in her cabin, until her death of natural causes in 1896. She could often be seen, slowly walking around the city with her cane in hand, before her death, making ends meet by selling hand woven baskets and doing peoples laundry. She was a very popular old woman, and when she died the city gave her a very nice funeral and burial. Today, her grave can still be found at Lake View Cemetery.
Although she never realized it, Princess would become world famous, a photographer named Edward S. Curtis took an interest in her, often photographing her and paying her a dollar for each picture that he took. His photographs spread far and wide, bringing fame to both his and his subject. When Angeline died, everybody was sorry to see her go, but before too long it became apparent that maybe she hadn’t gone so far after all.
The Pike Place Market first opened in 1907, eleven years after Princess Angeline’s death, and there is no truth to the stories that say she used to hang out there while living, doing laundry for the marketers that ran the stalls. While she never visited the market while alive, however, she has been seen at the market from the time that it opened. By all accounts, she always seems to be a real, solid, living person, and old Native American woman wearing an old fashioned shawl and the red bonnet that she was well known for wearing when alive. She moves slowly, just like she did when alive, and has the disturbing habit of vanishing into thin air. She is most often seen near the wooden column on the lower floor of the market, and even when she is not there visibly, people often remark that the air around the pillar is colder than it is elsewhere in the market. Other places that she appears include the flower market (another part of the Pike Place complex), which is very close to or on the place where her cabin stood. She has been seen sitting on the floor surrounded by blankets, and baskets as if she is running a stall of her own, only to vanish when somebody approaches to try to buy something.
So, if you find yourself confronted by an aged Native American woman in a red bonnet while visiting Pike Place Market, don’t be too afraid. It is only the spirit of the Indian Princess taking a look around at our modern world. All just another day in Seattle.