Pike Place Market

I started to write about our mixed feelings about a recent visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market but the feelings weren’t mixed – they fell all the way off the fence splat into a cow-pie. Not going back. Not with the kids, anyway.

I grew up thirty miles South, near Tacoma, and spent untold hours roaming the streets of the downtown. This time, older and towing children, my wife and I went for a fun family day, and I was astounded – flabbergasted – by the crowds. Driving down the rolling hills toward the water, I kept wondering if there was an event going on as nicely dressed families and grunged-up nineties hold-overs were practically running down the sidewalks. We found parking a few blocks away and walked to the Market. Once there, it was hard to go anywhere without shoving. The three places I wanted to see – Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky, and Beecher’s Cheese – all had lines half a block long, and I wasn’t interested enough to wait. Mal’s goal of a bag of goodies from Le Panier and flowers for the moms was easier to achieve. While we pushed through the crowds, never letting go of the girl’s hands, I stopped and chatted up a woman selling wire jewelry who said that this was a typical Saturday crowd. Ugh.

Pike Place Starbucks

Where it all started. Starbucks on Pike Place.

I can’t guess at how many times I’ve made the trip to Seattle for a day of fun, but this just wasn’t it. It was almost impossible to walk through the main floor of the Market, and any stretch of grass was taken up with the homeless or hapless. The smell of weed and urine permeated the air. At one point, just as we were leaving, a greasy man shoved a path open through the crowds shouting ‘get out of my way, or I’ll kill a few of you fuckers!’ Mal and I looked at each other and at the girls. “Time to go,” we said. I talked later with a friend who spent Friday there. He said several people cleared out an area when some white guy started shadow-boxing on the walkway telling passers-by that ‘today would be a great day to murder a few niggers!’ I love me some good fun and have been in my share of questionable situations on a late-night Seattle excursion, but this is just no place for the kids.

I wonder how much heartache and hurt could be avoided with better mental health and addiction recovery programs? Or programs to help people keep homes and jobs?  I ask that knowing that Seattle is one of the most forward-looking cities in this regard and they are obviously still inundated with problems. You have to want help to accept help, I suppose.  How many families are one or two lost paychecks away from losing their homes? I’ve been there. Let me tell you: I would be living in a tent downtown if I needed to. I haven’t a clue about what is available, but I’m sure it’s not enough. We passed a couple of tent-city areas on the way downtown, and I was surprised at the number of apparently homeless living at the Market. I haven’t a clue what should be done and don’t know if anyone does. But it creates an angst in me thinking of how much sadness and loneliness must fill these people and their families. I’ve been haunted by this thought ever since reading Elena Gorokhova’s A Mountain of Crumbs about growing up in the Soviet Union. When young Elena announced that she was moving to America, her mother recoiled, asking “Why would you want to live in a place where they let their comrades live under bridges and die without health care?” I don’t know. And we do.

Pike Place

A familiar scene on Pike Place.

On a happy note, we learned that Madi is a fan of raspberry croissants and discovered that Northwest Woodworkers Gallery has moved nearby so we enjoyed some gorgeous woodwork and furniture.


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Here the Pike Place website for a most positive outlook.

The 90s Seattle music scene:

And here’s some MAGA I can get behind. Might need one of these…

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